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September 11, 2014 —

If you haven’t seen it yet, there was a “Before and After” project thought up by U.S. journalist Esther Honig that went viral shortly after it was completed. Esther examined how beauty standards varied across cultures by contacting artists in more than 25 different countries and asking them to alter a photograph of her and “make her beautiful.” Esther believed that Photoshop represented America’s unattainable beauty standards. She wanted to see how the cultural backgrounds of individual artists from around the world influenced their perceptions of beauty.

The images of what was beautiful varied greatly, exemplifying the idea that beauty can come in many forms, and proving that, around the world, there is no standard definition of “beautiful.” Esther was not the first to show that beauty is viewed in all different ways, as evidenced in the media by The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which began in 2004 with the purpose of getting women talking and helping them realize that we are all beautiful. The campaign has gotten mixed reviews and complaints from some people that Dove has “barely widened the definition of beauty.” However, in the past 10 years, Dove has significantly widened its portfolio of skin care and beauty products and gained stronger brand recognition, much of which was driven by this campaign.

Within the past several weeks on Facebook, I’ve seen women post a set of five photos in which they feel beautiful, tag five female friends and challenge them to do the same. I’ve also seen friends pass around blog posts about body image, being comfortable in your own skin and an article called “Here’s What Thigh Gaps Looked Like in 1945,” bringing attention to the fact that even Miss America contestants weren’t thin as a rail and that we should love ourselves as we are.

According to, 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and go on diets in an effort to achieve the body they want. While the average U.S. woman is 5’4″ and weighs 140 pounds, U.S. female models are, on average, 5’11” and only 117 pounds. No wonder so many of us have unrealistic expectations about how we want to look! It is important to be healthy, but maybe it’s time we all stop being so hard on ourselves when it comes to body image

The sharing of hopeful stories and blog posts via social media is a positive change. Campaigns that show celebrities confidently being themselves without makeup and projects that show that beauty can look all sorts of ways are refreshing. After all, authentic and encouraging campaigns speak to women much more successfully than those that are clichéd and unrealistic.

Do the topics of beauty and body image impact your brand? Have you personally noticed recent changes in how the media portray beauty? To continue the conversation or learn more about Frank About Women, contact Chief Marketing Officer Shaun Stripling at 336.774.939 or by email.

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