An FBI-trained forensic artist is brought in to draw a facial sketch of a woman he has never seen. There was no crime, but what you are about to read clearly describes a victim of assault.
The woman being drawn is behind a curtain so that the artist can’t see her. But the artist asks questions such as “Tell me about your hair. Tell me about your chin. What would be your most prominent feature?” And so on. Based on her answers, the expert artist sketches a picture. There is just one problem.
The picture is awful.
Not awful in the sense that the ink is smeared. And not awful in that it improperly captures how the woman described herself. The ink is perfect, and the captured image superbly matches the woman’s description.
Rather, awful in the sense that none of the woman’s positive features and aspects were captured. The focus was on the qualities she didn’t like about herself, and the drawing certainly reflected that.
This “experiment” was repeated across countless women with the exact same results.
But here’s the amazing twist. Prior to being sketched, each woman was asked to spend just a couple minutes with a complete stranger. And the artist drew a second sketch of each woman based solely on the stranger’s description.
While both pictures are clearly of the same woman, the two couldn’t be more different in terms of energy and happiness.
Thus is the brilliant beauty experiment conducted by the folks at Dove to poignantly present the dramatic difference between how a woman sees herself and how others see her.
As each woman has a chance to view the two photos side-by-side, their mouths are agape at the difference. As one woman described her two pictures: “She looks closed-off and fatter. Much sadder too. But in that second one, she looks more open, friendly, and happy.”
And so is the nature of self-perception. From the wrong-minded thought system of the ego, we not only are our own worst enemy, we not only incessantly beat ourselves up, but we have a very dark picture of ourselves. These dismal lines from the Course powerfully capture our self-image:
You think you are the home of evil, darkness, and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. (W-pI.93.1)
How could happiness ever result from such a picture of ourselves?
Yet we have an opportunity to cast aside that wrong-minded perspective and choose to see ourselves in the light of truth. From that right-minded thought system, we see ourselves (and everyone else) as gloriously beautiful. From such a perspective:
In no fantasy have you ever seen anything so lovely. (T-17.II.1)
From which follows an entire world-view of beauty, confidence, and happiness. It is ours for the choosing. And echoing the trailing tagline on Dove’s video, a statement of right-minded truth applicable to everyone: You are more beautiful than you think.