We never know how we look through another person’s eyes. A year ago today, Dove published a video showing women describing themselves to a sketch artist. Then another person who had just met them described them to the artist. The two pictures of each woman were very different. The experiment focused only on women, many of whom appeared really upset when confronted with the two different images. You can see the original experiment from Dove here.
Just a couple days ago, BuzzFeed posted an article with a variation of this experiment. They brought in a group of people to stand in front of a mirror and talk about themselves. They did not know it was a two way mirror with another person making observations about them. A few days later they were brought back in to look at the video footage of the people behind the mirrors. One big difference from this and the Dove experiment is that some of the participants were men. The men had just as much negative talk about themselves as the women did.
What struck me most, was one man saying that the mirror lies. The mirror cannot lie. It can only repeat back to us what we have told it. The mirror is simply an amplifier. The problem is our perspective of what we see in the mirror. So many people have a skewed self-image that they only see the negative. Many have been told their entire lives that they are not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough. They’ve been told that they will never measure up to someone else, and spend their lives trying to reach a goal that at best is not theirs to reach and at worst is so far out of reach as to be impossible.
When we hear the negative often enough we start to believe it. It becomes our reality. Most people don’t recognize the negative self-talk they use everyday. Not unless someone points it out to them. These experiments are a wake-up call for these people. The truth of how other people see us is right there in front of us. It can be very hard to accept that reality. It’s scary. It’s not the familiar that we’ve become so accustomed to. Letting go is not easy. It is confidence building to hear what someone else thinks about your body and realize that they may be right. Maybe my cheekbones are shaped nicely. Maybe my hair is not as mousy as I thought it was. Maybe my thighs don’t look so bad. But even this thinking can be detrimental if spoken in negative terms.
It’s important to always look at yourself and find something positive. Even if it’s just one thing, celebrate that one thing. Then the next day, find and celebrate another thing. Keep working at it until you believe those positive things. Keep celebrating the beautiful things about yourself and others will notice them, too. We are all more than we think we are. We just need to change our perception in order to see it. The full article is here on BuzzFeed. The video is below.