Thursday, October 27, 2005

In the eye of the beholder

Our family's favorite weekend haunt, UCC Connecticut, has placed Dove poll placards on their tables, the ones that let you choose between "extra-large" and "extra-sexy", "aging" and "ageless", "flat" and "flattering". They sparked a debate among my family, with my brother and mom insisting on "extra-large" and me defending "extra-sexy". My mom also went for "aging" while I was for "ageless", but my brother said it was relative to how old the woman actually is (his logic: if she's 80, then she looks pretty good for her age; if she's actually 30, then hell yeah she's aging!). However, we all managed to agree on "flat". :p

Margaux, Kat and I had the same conversation topic a week ago when we had coffee at UCC. We wondered if the Dove campaign "for real beauty" has been successful in the way the company envisioned, or if the Filipino market is ruining the entire concept for them. We are a people fixated with physical appearances, and our standards are sometimes unreasonably high (and our colonial mentality doesn't help matters). From the results of at least one of the polls, as reflected on the huge billboard by the Guadalupe bridge, it appears that Filipinos' concept of physical beauty is still pretty narrow (literally): fat just ain't attractive. Margaux suggested that maybe that was the whole point of the Dove campaign, to make the public react to the poll results and go, "she's not THAT large" or "so what if she's flat?" Whatever the people at Dove were thinking, I don't think they're going to be changing the popular notion that "beautiful" refers to young, skinny, busty girls... at least not for the next few generations.

What is "real" beauty anyway? Does such a thing exist, or is it all relative? There was a time when Rubenesque women were considered alluring and waifish women were not. There are cultures wherein dark skin is appreciated as exotic, and skin-whitening products are unheard of. There are men who aren't turned on by butts of J.Lo proportions, but like flat tushes on girls. Factor in socio-cultural influences, including the impact of history and media, and you'll get very diverse ideas of what is beautiful and what is not. Sometimes you just can't explain what makes someone more beautiful to you: for example, I find Queen Latifah gorgeous, while I don't understand Julia Roberts' appeal. Go figure.

Ultimately, I believe it's all a question of personal preference, even if my brother argues that beauty is simply a product of what society in general decides is beautiful. I still think that even in a tribe of people who find big boobs attractive, there will be that one deviant who wants his women as flat as ironing boards. There's no one correct concept of beauty; it changes with time, from culture to culture, and from person to person. Beauty just can't be boxed in, even by idealistic ad campaigns for the "real" thing.


At Thursday, October 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really dont know what Dove hopes to achieve with this campaign for real beauty thing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder--cliche but true (at least for me).

Just because our concept of beauty is not at par with reality does not make such concept less real. Are we supposed to just change our notion of what is beautiful just because people around us do not fit into our concept of beauty? I dont think so.

Ideas, concepts... they simply cannot be equated with reality... They're just too different.

If indeed Dove hopes to change our concept of what beautiful is through this ad, well... i dont think they'll see results in the near future... But then again, we have to start somewhere, and at least thats what they're doing... (so maybe i do know what Dove is trying to achieve, after all... or so I think.) :-)

At Thursday, October 27, 2005, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

My sentiments exactly. :)

P.S. May I know who you are?

At Thursday, October 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets just say Im an avid reader... :-)

At Thursday, October 27, 2005, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Fair enough. :) If your insights are any indication, then I'm flattered to have such a great mind (for we think alike ;p) reading my blog. And you're a good writer to boot. Your comments are welcome anytime.


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