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The True Beauty Myth

defaced billboard

We talk a lot of about natural beauty products here and how to make your beauty regimen safer for yourself and kinder to the planet. It’s great to highlight companies that are getting it right, but I think it’s also important to remember that the cosmetics industry is setting an unattainable standard of beauty.

I’m not a fan of the idea that you can purchase beauty in a bottle. I don’t think you can paint it onto your face, and I hate that companies spend billions of dollars making us feel like we’re not pretty enough.

A while back, Dove launched a campaign that shed a bit of light on what it takes to transform a real person into the images you see in magazines and on billboards. This video isn’t new, but when Rhonda Winter shared the 60 second clip over on our Facebook page, it reminded me of how good it is. Take a gander:

I think that confidence is beautiful, and, like I’ve said before, true beauty is in our actions and our interactions. I’d love to hear from some of you! What do you think constitutes real beauty?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by _saturnine

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .


  1. While I agree that we can choose to define beauty in more expansive ways, more “spiritual” ways, I don’t think that the question can be truly addressed without looking at Nature.

    If by “beauty” we mean physical attractiveness (as defined by a given, breeding population of humans, and/or by prospective breeding partners), then such beauty does indeed have a more concrete basis, or meaning.

    In nature, physical beauty indicates, or signifies, genetic fitness. Even if this is not always, necessarily the case (a male peacock with great looking feathers could be sterile, or carry a deleterious mutation), in general, near universally, the more “beautiful” the courting gender is, the more likely they are to get the attention of the off-spring-bearing other (typically the female, in non human species). Thus, more opportunities for mate selection, and/or sex.

    In breeding humans, while there are certainly male “peacocks”, the beauty role seems to be mostly adopted by females. And, however, “hyper-trophic” (that is, evolved beyond their practical utility) these beauty rituals and behaviors may be, their purpose is the same: to attract a wider range of potential mates.

    If the female in this case is not polygamous, or promiscuous (a behavior exhibited by some female hanuman monkeys to confuse the issue of paternity, as a survival strategy), and will choose but one mating partner, her beauty (as defined by the majority) will allow her, through a greater selection spectrum, to select the “best” or ideal male (who is, presumably, equally attracted to her), and thus pass on her genes (diluted by one half, but with “superior” genes) into the next generation.

    Also, mutual attractiveness (in humans) may add that something extra that keeps breeding couples together longer–just long enough to properly raise their young to the point that they can survive on their own (and likewise reproduce).

    Yes, as you may suspect, it’s all about mating, pair bonding, and gene pool propagation.

    What we see on TV, in magazines, is the hyper-trophic end of this ancient and pervasive practice. It spreads and grows because it (beauty advertising) is mesmerizing to watch (don’t we all immediately look at a picture or image of a beautiful woman?), it appeals to one’s vanity (and the need to be found attractive), and, it all makes lots of money…so, we get more of it, and the feedback cycle keeps going and growing.

    From the Film La Femme Nikita: “Two things are infinite: femininity, and the mean by which to exploit it.”

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