The Real Truth About Beauty

In 2004, DOVE launched an exciting global study on what women around the world are saying about beauty ideals and self esteem. Because the report is wayy too lengthy for many of us to plough through, I’d like to share some key insights from this enlightening study with my dear readers and friends!

  1.  Modern definitions of beauty are too narrow, many women worldwide are protesting. Not only do many women feel that beauty ideals are too myopically focussed on physical attributes instead of encompassing so much more of who they are as women such as their happiness, kindness, confidence and dignity, many expressed their strong desire for the media to better represent women of diverse physical types, body shapes and ethnic backgrounds. (And Mariko says amen to that! 🙂 )
  2. Beauty beliefs learnt early in life between the ages of six and seventeen have a huge impact on how women feel about themselves and their lives.
  3. Nine in ten women want to change some aspect of their appearance – with the greatest dissatisfaction being expressed over body weight and shape. (And Mariko says, “Well, looking at the fashion industry today, that doesn’t come as a surprise, does it?”)
  4. A woman’s sense of self worth varies with her appearance satisfaction. (And Mariko is thinking that it’s so sad that a woman should peg her self worth to her appearance. Yet, it’s a painful truth, isn’t it? That a large part of a woman’s identity, especially a young woman, is her sexuality and attractiveness. Can the hypersexuality of women in the media be blamed for this? Or is it an inevitable manifestation of traditional gender roles? )
  5. When women feel good about themselves, they are more active as a result of feeling more confident and loved. On the other hand, when women feel bad about themselves, they express feelings of insecurity and tiredness and seven out of ten women actually withdraw from normal activities because they feel badly about their appearances! The activities they avoid when feeling bad about themselves include giving their opinions, going on dates, physical activity, going to school or work and going on job interviews! Instead, they turn to extreme self modification (such as disordered eating), watching TV, sleeping or napping and staying home. (Mariko can’t agree more with this finding because she remembers withdrawing for a period of time immediately after her break up when she was feeling bad about herself. 😛 )
  6. Family and friends are extremely important for a woman struggling with a low self esteem. That’s right, women worldwide have confessed that when feeling bad about themselves and their looks, their first step is to reach out to family and friends for support, understanding and encouragement. Mothers and girl friends, they say, are the most powerful shapers of a girl’s feelings about beauty and body image. (And Mariko says, “Amen to that because family and friends so so rock! They really do. I don’t know where the hell I’d be if not for their love and support!”)
  7. Last but not least, what exactly do the women of the world wish to say to their fellow women??? Yes, it is their wish that parents and schools will talk to young girls early on in their lives about what real beauty is. Not only do they hope that young girls will eventually adopt a more realistic and healthy body image, it is also their vision that women of the future will learn to eat heathily rather than dieting and embrace the idea that beautiful women come in different shapes, sizes and colors! (Mariko says amen to that!! But she’s also wondering how long it would all take for that vision to come true…)

For more on the Campaign for Real Beauty by Dove, do visit:


 “What really stands between you and your beauty? Actually, nothing more than the courage to believe you possess it.”


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18 Responses to “The Real Truth About Beauty”

  1. The Voice of Truth Says:

    Who are you to decide what the defination of beauty is? Do you think the media unilaterally decides what beauty is? The fact is that men and OTHER women think being slim is beautiful as well.

    Is it unattainable for the majority of people? Perhaps, but it is a fact that it is society and the majority of the human population who has decided on the defination of beauty.

    There are also some very important genetic factors why being slim is desirable. Fat people may be fat due to bad genes and this will likely be passed down to their offspring. Is it so bad that men want to ensure that they spread their seed only to worthy mates?

    It is a fact that fat people have a predisposition to produce fat offspring. Furthermore, fat people have a higher risk of cardio-vascular illnesses.

    Regarding the lack of self-esteem women may have because they are physically desirable, I’ll say just one thing: Deal with it. It is nobody’s fault that you are not pretty. Some guys don’t want to date ugly/fat girls. Others don’t want to date stupid girls. The choice should be ours and I resent you trying to tell me my views are “wrong”.

    We want to be able to choose my mate based on their intelligence, physical gait, facial symmetry and a slew of other criteria. If you don’t like it, try looking for someone closer to your physical and mental development and social status.

    That is all.

  2. Belle Chua Says:

    Hey Mariko, it’s some interesting point to bring up and I can truthly understand why beauty is defined so differently by each and every individuals.

    Ultimately, I felt every girls are pretty by nature but how they perceive beauty all lies with their self-esteem and confident level which everyone possess with or without knowingly. Even for me, I see self-esteem as binded with confident to create the kind of belief for one to seek and feel beautiful.

    So, all most girls out there, always remember…there’s no UNPRETTY GIRLS, but LAZY GIRLS…so if you want to be beautiful, you can be beautiful…just need to work harder a little bit more!

  3. summerloving Says:

    Hi babe. Would just like to say that beauty goes beyond just the appearances. We’d all grow old one day and what used to be beautiful to you or me may deign to be beautiful any longer. Furthermore, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – you may consider something good looking whilst the other person may think another attribute of a person (e.g. facial appearances, body size) looks better.

    Have we considered other definitions of beauty? What about beauty that stems from within? Can someone be considered beautiful because of who she is? The value or worth of a woman does not stem from her looks or physical appearance, but from her innate qualities?

    I believe that chivalrous men of our era would look for women with true beauty, women who possess qualities like goodness, gentleness, faithfulness. These are attributes of a woman or wife in which a good husband who look out for as well? 🙂

  4. TeE Says:

    There’s no definition of beauty anyway. Even for guys perspectives of girls, everyone has their own preference and it’s definitely not true that everyone likes them thin.

    But of course, the people whose looks come into what a sizable proportion of the population considers ‘beautiful’ are luckier in a way, but that’s not the end of the world.

    But a relationship simply based on pure erotic sexual attraction will not last (ever wondered why there is a need for so much variety and many changes of celebrities in porn or FHM photo features?), so even not-so-good-looking-girls can take heart at it. A person’s character is so much more attractive, and this is something that doesn’t wear out easily…

  5. amal Says:

    I blame media , half those woman in magazines are air brushed ! so they to are normal . I say take care of yourself , love yourself and be confident , what you emit from yourself will go on to others , people will automaticall be attracted to you .

  6. notjustskindeep Says:

    Hi Voice of Truth!

    What I gather from your comment is that you feel that perceptions of beauty are subjective? And that everybody has his or her own ideas about what beauty means to them or what kind of mate they are looking for? Correct me if I’ve interpreted your comment wrongly or inaccurately, alright?

    Yes, I agree with you that we have our own subjective standards. But is that also perhaps mediated by the fact that we are inevitably influenced by the culture we’re immersed in and that perhaps is determined by
    (1) Other man and women (that I agree with you)
    (2) But also the media which is undeniably an integral part of modern living?

    If we were all isolated individuals then I would have to agree with you that standards of beauty are entirely subjective and relative. But in a world where we are more interconnected than before by technology and being the social creatures that we are as human beings, can we entirely deny the influence of culture in our perceptions? And can we also deny the role that media can play in shaping culture and mindsets?

  7. notjustskindeep Says:

    Hey Belle!! 🙂

    Yes I have to agree with you that confidence is attractive. And that’s probably why people say we have to learn to love ourselves before we can expect anyone to love us! :))

    Even for girls, confidence in guys (although over confidence is an entirely different issue altogether) is attractive, we must admit, yar? The same probably applies to women. There is a certain allure about confident women… An allure that is inexplicable but nonetheless powerful :)).

    As for there not being any ugly woman and only lazy ones, are you saying (and do correct me if I’m wrong) that beauty needs hard work? Make up and other self enhancing products do work wonders yar??!!! So if women truly want to improve their physical appearances, I have to agree with you that there are many many ways. It’s just about whether they wish to put in the effort to search for these alternatives and persist in using them right? :))

    But I do also believe that the natural look (without any beauty enhancements) can be very very attractive too. Because there’s an authencity or “realness” to it and many of us do look out for authencity in others too :)) What do you think, pretty belle????

  8. notjustskindeep Says:

    Hey summerloving!!! :))

    I do agree with you that inner beauty should be factored into the equation as well when considering beauty standards.. I can’t agree with you more! :)) In fact that’s one of the findings from the Dove Study. Many women, like you and I, do indeed feel that beauty standards have been too narrowly focussed on a few physical attributes when other aspects of being a woman such as kindness and dignity should be considered as well. I can’t agree with you more, summerloving!

    I also agree with you that there are certainly men who will look for qualities such as goodness when looking for a wife.. But at the same time, I also believe that there are all sorts of people in this world. In the same way, there are many kinds of men out there :)). Some may be more looks oriented than others. It depends on the individual I guess.

    I used to have a very good guy friend who admitted to me that the initial attraction factor would be looks for him but eventually whether the relationship lasts depends on the girl’s character.. Still, the initial draw for him would be looks. Because in his opinion, he has to be sufficiently attracted to the girl in that special way for him to chase her and want to get to know her better.

    What’s your take babe on that?

  9. notjustskindeep Says:

    Hey Tee!!!!!

    Yes yes I do agree with you that beauty standards can be relative to the guy. I guess it’s the same with food preferences or any form of preferences though it is weird to compare perceptions of beauty to food preferences! hee hee.

    It’s interesting that you say that girls who conform to the majority perception of beauty do have some benefits.. Are you saying that you feel that girls who are “conventionally” beautiful have things easier in a sense, and that people do give more leeway to them? I do have to agree with you on that though I do also feel that being beautiful conventionally can have its downside yar?

    At the end of the day, though, yes, I have to agree with you that a relationship based on a sexual attraction will certainly not last but how about the possibility that what started as a sexual attraction can evolve into love? :))

  10. notjustskindeep Says:

    Hey Amal!!!!

    Maybe you should check out one of the Dove Self Esteem Fund ads where an average looking woman is airbrushed into the glamorous model we see in magazines!!!!

    You can find it at:

    I think you’d probably relate with that because it’s precisely what you’re talking about :))

  11. amal Says:

    oh my gosh just got it checked out , The woman did not look like ‘her’ , have you seen the faith hill one .

    check this website out , I check it out every now and then

  12. notjustskindeep Says:

    Hey Amal!

    I know!!! It’s scary ya? To see how “amazing” the transformation was! It just goes to show that we’re all chasing unreal beauty standards which are impossible to achieve! No wonder so many women are dissatisfied with the way they look!

  13. yippiy Says:


    i would like to share this youtube video as part of e dove campaign with you.

    the video shows how the media transformed an average looking jane to a super hot looking model featured on a billboard. Their tools? make up & more important, PHOTOSHOP. geehz

    i especially like the line just before the video ends : no wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.

  14. yippiy Says:

    WOW! you gotta check this out!
    the video is titled “Beauty is a product of photoshop”, after watching the video, you would agree with the title of the video.

    It’s amazing what photoshop can do to.

    However, somehow deep down even though we know alot of the pictures we see on the media are being edited to rather unachieveable standard of beauty (esp their size), we still strvie to look like them. haiiiz…

  15. notjustskindeep Says:

    hey yippiy!!!

    thanks for the video! you’re right – it’s scarily amazing what photoshop and make up can do!

    but i have to agree with you that even though we know that these images are doctored, we will still crave to attain such beauty standards!

    perhaps it’s just part of our human nature to constantly strive towards ideals. that’s how we humans have achieved such levels of modernization and civilization today, isn’t it?

    still, i commend dove for producing this video. because even though we cannot quell the desire to attain such beauty standards, the knowledge that these images have been altered helps at least to counteract that desire and prevent it from blowing out of proportion!

    what do you think?

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