My friend Victoria’s mother once told her to take in all the physical praise she could because after a while flattery fades. Victoria not only followed her mom’s advice, she lived it. From homeless men on the street commenting on her ‘ghetto booty’ to construction workers’ wolf whistles, Victoria gave a cheery and genuine ‘thank you’ to each and every cat call, lip smack, backhanded compliment and car honk that graced her path. She took these all in stride and downloaded them onto her backup system of self-esteem. Victoria isn’t egotistical or stuck-up or any of the other untrue titles we give to people who can look in the mirror and be proud of what they see looking back. She’s beautiful because she knows she is, both inside and outside.
In Dove’s new advertisement using a police sketch artist to draw different women’s perspective of themselves is not only a viral hit, but it’s a viral lesson. After each woman has given the artist their descriptions of themselves, another recently-befriended person gives their own personal account of the same woman’s attributes. The two sketches are then put up side-by-side for the women to soak in, revealing that the sketch from the acquaintance is much more flattering and more honest to each woman’s view of her own looks. Dove’s tag line for this campaign is fittingly, “You are more beautiful than you think.”
With this message I call upon all of us—including myself—to take a page from Victoria’s handbook. Instead of deflecting, dismissing or degrading yourself after given a compliment, say ‘thank you’ instead and take a minute to confirm the fact that yes, your outfit is cute, you do have nice hands, your hair is beautiful because YOU are beautiful just as you are.
Here’s our challenge: Try to soak in any compliments and praise for one week without rebuttal— even if you have to bite your lip to keep from turning a compliment into a complaint. Repeat these the worthy ones back to yourself in the mirror and add in a few of your own. After seven days of this, I bet you’ll notice a feeling of radiating gratitude from within sending a whole new wave compliments your way. And all you have to say is, ‘thank you.’