Dove, as part of its Campaign for Real Beauty, gets behind a project that positively reacts to the constant barrage of messages on beauty. Authored by famed fashion photographer and model Sara Black, the “When I Look in the Mirror” book project is a pictorial representation of how diverse and distinct authentic beauty can and should be.  

“When I look in the Mirror” is yet another positive addition to Dove’s growing roster of projects to build a world of positively-empowered women who will not be boxed into society’s limited and limiting definitions of beauty. 

Here’s a picture I downloaded of Sara, shot by Kai Huang, which is actually fitting with the theme of ‘looking in the mirror.’

A model herself, here is Sara, radiating her natural beauty, freckles and all, without a thread of shame.

“This book is my reaction to working in an industry that can sometimes be so overly obsessed with perfection.  Sometimes, so many alterations are made to a person’s face to remove “imperfections. These perfect images of women put a lot of pressure on other women who end up thinking that it’s their benchmark or standard of beauty, but in reality that really isn’t how the model looks,” says Sara.

 

The stories behind the faces featured in this book are indeed inspirational.  While the roster of featured celebrities may read like a page from the latest fashion or society magazine, the stories they tell are those all women can easily relate to.  They are, essentially, the story of us all.

Wilma Doesnt is an icon of her generation, partly because of who she is but more so because of how she is.  This supermodel turned TV host and actress was discovered by fashion director Robby Carmona while sweeping her front yard in her native province.

From humble beginnings, she was the first and only Filipina-African-American to grace the cover of Preview Magazine in the 90s. The issue was not only controversial and beautiful but also a positive turning point for Philippine fashion where fair-skinned models were the primary preference. 

Wilma remembers: “When I was starting, “You have to be white! You have to have big boobs! I didn’t have that! I was just lucky because instead I was really unique. In an industry that obsesses over whitening products, all of the sudden, there’s this dark girl.  So I love my color, I love myself! If you were to take away my skin color, it’s not me.”

Ana Pulido believes that the change that happened to her goes beyond the scars on her face. After getting into a car accident back in 1994 that led her to undergo a great deal of facial reconstruction, she finds that her attitude in life is better than ever.

For Ana, the emotional bearing on her was never long term. “Back in college, I remember how rumors sparked that I died and other things happened to me because of the accident.”

When she returned to school, she had to wear a mask to cover up the rest of what has not been operated on yet. With the ordeal, Ana recounts her experience and believes a transformation occurred inside and out. “Your flaws don’t wholly make you. They’re only a small percentage of who you are. If you give much emphasis on them, it’s like devaluing the rest of your being.”

She remembers the first time she saw herself in the mirror after getting confined in the hospital for recovery, and how the surgery had significantly changed her figure. Instead of mulling over how the incident negatively affected her, “The first thing I noticed was that I looked sexier!”

 Had she grown up a socialite, dripping luxury brands and hogging the party scene, it would have been typical.  She, afterall, looked the part.  Daughter to the former First Family of the land, Aimee Marcos had enough physical assets and pedigree to take the safe path and become what everyone expected her to be.  But this young woman sees things differently.

Her alternate perspective permeates everything about her.  Take her teeth, for starters.  “Apparently, my teeth are a flaw. I never knew that. So I don’t really care. It never bothered me. I never thought of it as a flaw, I thought it was a character thing,” states Aimee.

Then, there is her very fair complexion – the kind that other women endure pain and suffering to have.  But for Aimee, having fair skin isn’t all that.  In fact, “I used to be called Casper because I’m so white.  I don’t think I have melanin. It came to a point I’d get putik (mud) so that I can be dark because I was so white. But now I’ve accepted who I am.  I think it’s about time I accepted myself.”

 

As unorthodox as she is about everything else though, she echoes every woman’s message to other women regarding our relentless pursuit of perfection:“Lighten up, man! Everyone has imperfections. You really think the most beautiful person in the world doesn’t worry about some flaw that she thinks she has? You’re wrong, because everybody has them. So be at peace, be happy with where you are, be as healthy as you can be, and be good to people.”   

Now, who do YOU see, when you look in the mirror? Go on, take another look…

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