Dove Controversy: Real Beauty Gone Viral

Some like it. Others hate it. Dove’s latest ad campaign video about a wearable beauty patch has struck a nerve and gone viral.

(Spoiler alert!) The women highlighted in the experiment feel their beauty and self-worth increase, while thinking drugs are helping them get there. As it turns out, the patches are only placebos. The video concludes: “Beauty is a state of mind.”

Gina Boswell, executive VP for personal care at Unilever, who works on the Dove campaign to redefine beauty, explained that catch phrase. “If you act with confidence and are more authentic to yourself, you radiate happiness and confidence as a result,” she told me in an interview.

Research has found only 4 percent of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful, an issue compounded by media images every day. Beauty is just one element of our self-worth, but anything that lifts it is beneficial on many levels. For instance, according to the MacArthur Foundation, low self-esteem is linked to depression, anxiety, and other health issues.

Recognizing our worth can be tough when nagged by constant self-criticism, but subduing it is crucial to being authentic to ourselves. Many times a disparaging voice chatters in our head saying we’re not smart enough, good enough, or attractive enough. This feels like our own line of reasoning.

But is it? Or might it be based on misguided impressions of ourselves that ultimately don’t have anything to do with who we are?

Over the years I’ve found that voice is based on fear and I can catch it and kick it out, because it’s not based on any objective reality.

At a recent Third Metric conference focused on redefining success, Arianna Huffington suggested you should “live as if life is rigged in your favor,” an idea she credits to Sufi poet Rumi.

For me, this means more than just thinking positively — it’s looking beyond those negative influences to make a discovery about what really defines us.

What kind of discovery? Well, think about what makes you value your friends. Chances are, you would describe their best qualities, like strength, intelligence, or joy. That’s not something that needs cosmetics to be seen or affirmation from others.

Such qualities already exist in us, too; they’re just waiting to be recognized and give us a more authentic view of our self-worth.

It’s not always easy to see that, but I’ve found a helpful way to subdue that negative voice. It’s to go the source of our true rigging, you might say, to gather information about who I am. I think of this true rigging, or higher source, as a divine power that instills and maintains good in us all, unconditionally.

So how does this help us to perceive, stay focused on, and prove our self-worth?

1. Begin with a better model.

Having this different starting point empowers us to look with confidence to find those deeper, good qualities in ourselves that we see so easily in our friends.

2. Stay focused.

Don’t listen to that inner voice comparing you to others. Instead, once you have a better model in thought, hold on to it, as a favorite writer on spirituality and health recommends.

“We are all sculptors, moulding and chiseling thought … We must form perfect models in thought, and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy.

3. Live it.

Take a moment to identify one great quality in yourself. Value yourself for having it, and make a point of watching how you live it during the day. Acknowledge successes you have, and don’t beat yourself up about any failures. Your inner critic may not cheer on this exercise, but know she can’t stop you!

As we start with a better model, remain mentally focused on it, and increasingly live the good qualities of a life “rigged in our favor,” we’ll disarm the cycle of self-criticism, displace fear and uncover our inherent worthiness.

Then we’ll be carving out those “grand and noble lives,” which will reveal our true beauty.

Sharon is a practitioner of Christian Science and works in media relations for The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Follow Sharon on Twitter:

Originally published in The Huffington Post.