Look into the mirror. What do you notice first? Do you immediately notice your flaws — that big nose, crooked teeth, a birthmark, freckles, wrinkles or lines?
In our society, beautiful women are those who are considered flawless. Beauty products are geared towards eliminating such flaws or at the very least, concealing these. The beauty standards women are held up to often make us feel uncomfortable going out in public without doing something about the flaws that make us un-pretty.
But last night, C1 and I attended the launch of an unusual collection of pictures and stories of ordinary women by famed fashion photographer and model, Sara Black.
Dove, as part of its Campaign for Real Beauty, collaborated with Sara Black to produce the book When I Look in the Mirror.
Featured in Sara’s first book are 50 women who, at first glance, are beautiful. A number of women featured in this book are familiar to me: Maan Hontiveros, Cris Villonco, Wilma Doesnt, Aimee Marcos. But a large majority of those featured are ordinary women just like me. And it is only upon close inspection that you realize that they are far from flawless. Each one of them has a facial mark.
The amazing thing about how they were captured by Sara though was that she captured each woman’s true beauty essence. Each portrait picture showed the woman’s unique and individual beauty. Every page of the book had the woman’s story. I leafed through some of the stories and I identified more and more with them. These women were real women with natural beauty.
We bumped into a young lady about the age of my girl C1. C1 was immediately attracted to her. “Mom, I LOVE her Oxford shoes!!!” So I approached the young lady and asked if they could have a picture wearing their Oxfords.
It was only later that I realized KC Nina Pusing was one of the featured women in Sara’s book and it was because she had a birthmark.
In yoga, my teacher told me that it was acceptance of one’s body (flaws and all) that we needed to learn. Instead of being impatient that we were inflexible or could not execute a pose as well as the one beside us, we just had to accept that this was where we were at this point in time. We are taught to push our bodies only as far as we could make it go and in time, the body would just naturally bend with more flexibility.
Sara Black’s focus on women with flaws is a definite statement for us who can enumerate a litany of defects whenever we look at our face and body in the mirror instead of seeing the beauty that stares back at us. Sara told me, as she was signing the books I held out for her, that she really admired the women for allowing her to catch them up close, flaws and all, for this book. Sara, who so often captures the beauty of people in fashion, admirably states: “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.”
I attended this event primarily to accompany C1, who was the REAL guest of Dove Philippines here as she is one of the bloggers featured in their Real Thoughts page. But after talking to Sara and after meeting a real person like KC, I came away knowing I could confidently look myself in the mirror and see my flaws but still be able to look beyond them and come closer to what yoga teaches — acceptance, contentment, love.
The photo exhibit of Sara Black showcasing the women of When I Look in the Mirror will be at The Gallery, second floor of Greenbelt 5 till March 22.