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Images & Voices of Hope | December 2, 2020

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Dove’s new ‘Selfie’ film shows how social media is redefining beauty

Dove’s new ‘Selfie’ film shows how social media is redefining beauty

During Monday’s Sundance Film Festival, Dove unveiled a short film that shows how social media is reshaping the way we think about beauty.

In the film, called “Selfie,” photographer Michael Crook visits a group of female students at a Massachusetts school. “I’m going to ask you to take a risk that could change the way that people define beauty,” she tells the students. “What if we figure out a way, when you guys were taking a selfie, to actually incorporate the things about us that we don’t like?”

The camera flips to the girls, who look worried. They start talking freely about psychical attributes they “hate,” but have trouble identifying ones they like.

“I worry a lot about, I guess, my positioning in the picture because I have a really round face, so it’s kind of hard to take a good picture.” 

“I hate my rosy cheeks because people always say I look like a tomato.”

“I hate my braces and I hate my glasses. … I want to say I hate my whole face. I look like a 12-year-old, I look like a boy.”

“I was surprised when I heard the girls talking about their insecurities,” one student says in the film. “When they said they were insecure about things, those were things that made them different. But the things that made them different made them unique, and that made them beautiful.”

The film, which was produced by Sharon Liese and directed by documentary filmmaker Cynthia Wade, points out that some girls’ self-esteem issues stem from their mothers. “Your mom can redefine beauty just like you can,” Crook tells the students.

Together, the students and their moms take selfies and expose what they don’t like about themselves — their big hair, bushy eyebrows, rosy cheeks, and more. They then go to a photo exhibit where they see blown-up versions of all the selfies and share compliments about them.

Some of the moms said the experiment made them realize that social media can empower girls to rethink the way that Hollywood and the fashion industry define beauty.

“Social media is widening the definition of what beauty is,” one mother said. Another agreed, saying: “Social media is putting the reins in their hands. The creativity of social media is definitely allowing you to start to define for yourself what beauty is.”

The film’s ending suggests that beauty isn’t just about looks. “I think beauty if being strong and being brave and being happy with yourself,” one of the students says. “And I think that’s really beautiful.”

You can watch the film, which is similar to Dove’s viral “beauty sketches” ad, here:

Related: “What I’ve learned from the #365FeministSelfieChallenge” (BlogHer)

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