I was watching the Today show this morning, when a segment about the Dove sponsored documentary,”Selfie” came on. It’s a short documentary that premiered at the Sundance Institute’s Women at Sundance brunch this week. It focuses on the idea that daughters predominantly learn about beauty and insecurities from their mothers, and tries to get girls to confront their insecurities and overcome them through selfies. Something one of the young girls said in the interview really stuck with me:
It’s really difficult for me to see my mom feel uncomfortable about herself – because I think she’s my biggest role model and the most beautiful person I know and it’s just such a compliment when people tell me I look like her. For her to criticize herself – it’s almost indirectly criticizing me because I came from her.
This is the most poignant statement I’ve ever read about mothers, daughters, insecurities and beauty. Sure, I’ve read the studies that say that our daughters get their insecurities from us. But I never thought about the fact that insulting myself could be perceived by my daughter as inadvertently insulting her, as well. It makes sense.
According to a survey done by Dove, 72% of daughters learn about beauty from their mothers. My mother was so obsessed with maintaining her weight and looks. I ended up with a list of insecurities about my physical appearance. It’s funny, because even knowing this – when I think about raising my daughter to love herself, I never really bring the way I speak to or regard myself into that equation. I’ve thought endlessly about how I will never insult her or her looks, always try and boost her confidence and never harp on her weight, but I’ve never thought about modifying my own behavior towards myself.
My mother’s obsession with dieting sent a clear message about how important it was – without saying a word. Hearing a teenager say, “For her to criticize herself – it’s almost indirectly criticizing me because I came from her,” really made me think about the messages mothers send their daughters everyday – through acting on their own insecurities.
The documentary itself is about using self-portraiture to discover your own beauty. It encouraged the girls to look at those things they didn’t like about themselves, and feature them in their “selfies.” It’s heartbreaking to hear the girls talk about the parts of themselves that they don’t like – I just want to swoop them all up and scream “You’re BEAUTIFUL!”
The selfies the girls and their mothers took were presented in a gallery setting, and viewers were able to stick post-its to the pictures, with notes about what they liked about each of them. The girls were able to see that the things that stood out about themselves – the things they were self-conscious about – were often the things that made them unique, and the things about them that people liked most.
I was looking through my selfies last night, and I realized that I am beautiful. I’m pretty cute.
I love this idea.