My friends have been talking about the clip from the Dove Real Beauty project. In the clip, a forensic artist asks women behind a curtain to describe themselves.
“Tell me about your hair,” he says, sketching. “Tell me about your chin. Your eyes.”
In typical girl fashion, they describe their features harshly -- they have fat faces and mean little eyes and big chins.
Then the artist asks other people to describe the women and he draws the things they say.
When the women come face to face with the two portraits of themselves -- the one they described and the one a stranger described -- they cry.
Because their own descriptions of themselves look nothing like them. And the portraits as described by others look almost exactly like them.
I wish we had the same forensic artist for military spouses and partners and MilSos. So often when I talk to these women (the males don’t seem to have this problem), they are full of the things they are doing in their military lives that are not quite good enough.
They confess that they didn’t serve a vegetable with dinner. They feel guilty over not looking at the papers in the backpack for two weeks. They apologize that they could not hold down a job AND deliver all three teens to band, ballet, Lacrosse and swim practice during a deployment.
Just like the women describing their own faces, military spouses describing their own lives often see only the minor flaws. They blow them out of proportion until the spouse’s version of her life and the world’s version of her life are two totally different things.
In the Dove Real Beauty project, one of the participants says: “We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the the things that aren’t quite right. We should spend more time appreciating the things we do like.”
How I wish we spouses would walk outside our doors one day to confront the same kind of evidence. I wish we could see a written description of how we handle the latest thing the military demands of us verses how other people see us rise to the occasion.
I bet the description from the outsider would be far more accurate that the one we make up ourselves. So maybe we do need a Dove Real Beauty kind of day. Where for once we are allowed to see the beauty in how well we are really doing. And how that is the only picture that really matters.