The Dove Real Beauty Sketches took Facebook by storm last week:

filling my newsfeed with passionate comments about how TRUE it was and how all our daughters needed to see this.

I have some thoughts.

Baby Jack posing with some rival soap.

1. This is an ad for soap.  

2. There are things I like about it.  Specifically, that other people are often a lot easier on us than we are on ourselves.  My favorite part was the very end, where the women are embraced by the people who love them no matter what they look like.  

It made me think I’d love to see one where our children describe us.  Not that they’d create lovely sketches of us, I just think it would be funny to watch.  They wouldn’t be kind and gentle like the strangers were . . . they’d just be perfectly honest, because our kids DON’T CARE AT ALL if we fit any sort of cookie-cutter definition of beauty.  I’m beautiful to my children not for how I look at all, but just because I’m their mom.

Which brings me to my main concern with it, which is that it seems to me to be a terrible idea to define ourselves or gain our self-worth by what we happen to look like right now.

3. Beauty is a transient thing in general, and YOUR beauty was never for YOU to begin with.

Consider that God did not make us able to see ourselves.  He made it so others can see us, but we can’t see ourselves. 

Consider that for thousands of years everywhere and in many places today, most people could see themselves only reflected in water or in some other imperfect way.  And I don’t think anyone but Narcissus considered it especially important to happiness. 

Because YOUR beauty is not for you.  And I’m going to talk to women here, because this ad was made for women, but I think it applies to men also.  My beauty is for my husband.  It attracted him to me.  That’s what it was FOR.

It was never for me.  It was never intended to be something I would dwell on, or base any sense of self upon, or even think about.  My husband was attracted to ME, for how I looked as well as for my personality and my perceived future ability to tell funny stories about horse meat baby food.

Like sexuality, beauty draws men and women together.  And as with your sexuality, your beauty is for your husband, not for your own use or gratification.  AND like your sexuality, your beauty fades and goes away.  Before your marriage does.  Before your love does.

As husbands are reminded in Proverbs 15:18-19 (before it takes a PG-13 turn!):

Let your fountain be blessed,
    and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19     a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

No matter how beautiful I ever was . . . God willing, I will live a long life with my husband and children, and my beauty will fade away.  But my husband will remember the girl that he married, who was just the right beautiful for him.  And my children never cared a bit what I looked like to begin with. 

I’m certainly glad to learn that strangers would be less critical of my perceived faults than I would be, but I still think we all have SO MANY more important things to base our self worth on.  And those things are more lasting and more critical to my happiness.

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t try to look pretty for my husband and pulled-together for the outside world.  But really, that’s what it is.  I try to dress in a way that shows my husband that I’m still trying to impress him every now and again.  And I try to present myself to the world in a way that makes people think, “Well, she managed to brush her hair and put on a bit of makeup and some clothes that are pretty stylish and mostly not covered in spit up . . . so I guess it’s okay that she has all those kids.”  Because, honestly, I think that’s how it works.

But I make an effort NOT to dress in a way that would make it appear that I’m trying to be sexually attractive to people who are not my husband.  If my sense of self-worth were tied up in something as silly as whether *I* think I’m beautiful, I don’t see how that could be the case.  Since beauty is utterly subjective and based on personal preference, I would HAVE to constantly be trying to attract people physically.  And I’m not, I’m just trying to look like I’m up to the challenge that is my particular life.

Which is officially the weirdest intro ever to What I Wore Sunday, hosted by the lovely ladies at Fine Linen and Purple.

View: San Diego (we’re at my parents’ house this weekend)
Dress and sweater: Anthropologie
Espadrilles: Naturalizer
Necklace: Lava beads from Pompeii!

I feel like I “know” most of the people who read my blog, either in real life or because you have a blog of your own, so I’ve read all about you.  So, allow me to say to you all that maybe you are more beautiful than you say, but you’re also better in other ways which are more lasting and important.  You have wonderful children and exciting adventures, you have inspiring successes and cautionary (and hilarious) failures and THOSE things, unlike your beauty, you get to keep right to the end.

Happy Sunday everyone!

p.s. 10 geek points to anyone who “gets” the title of this post . . .