Is Beauty a State of Mind

Does it surprise you that 9 out of 10 women feel bad when they look in the mirror? 9/10 that is an incredible about. Ironically I’m surprised, even though I’m definitely more often than not one of those 9. It surprises me most because we are obsessed with projecting ourselves to the world be it through instagram selfies, twitter shout outs or #OOTD blogging we want the world to see us, yet we hate seeing ourselves? 

1 in 3 one feel anxious when they look in the mirror and hardly ever smile back (I’m not sure I’ve ever smiled at myself in the mirror – I do find that kind of creepy), while 1/5 say they have never  been happy with their reflection. Globally 17% of women say they actively avoid looking in mirrors but in the UK that figure is much higher, 30%. Essentially ladies what we now is that we have really low self esteem and quite frankly that is not ok.

When you’re very little mirrors are fascinating. You see babies marvel at their own reflection, yet as we get older, slowly but surely we forget how much a mirror used to be the source of a giggle, now it’s the source of tears and frowns.

Dove has gathered the above information as part of their Dove Self Esteem Project. A social action project in many ways that works with children of all ages, in school workshops to improve their self esteem and give them a self place and way to talk about their bodies and how they feel. Now ladies they are coming for us. Dove highlight this in the brilliant video ‘Mirrors’ showing the real difference between grown women and little girls reaction to a mirror.

Remember little girls, look to us to work out what to do. If all they see is pained expression and negativity in front of a mirror, guaranteed they will copy those actions in no time at all. Us grown ups that should know better… but don’t and we are the only way those little girls are going to grow up to be body loving grown ups. So if we want to smash that 30% figure. We better start loving ourselves a little more.

Easier said than done right?

Dove has teamed up with Selfridges for its Beauty Project to encourage women to recognise their own beauty when they look in the mirror. Running a series of talks as well as putting up a hell of a lot of mirrors, Dove want us to realise that we need to relearn how we see and define beauty and make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety.


Throughout May, Dove is running a series of talks, debates and workshops in The Ultra Lounge to open up the debate on Beauty. One of which was entitled ‘Is Beauty a State of Mind?’ The panel was chaired by Cherry Healey, and the panel included Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke a leading psychologist and New York Times best-selling author, who has spent thirty years conducting scientific research around women’s body image and self-esteem, Nathalie Thomas – a UK based life coach psychologist who has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Chris – who took part in the Dove project ‘Patches’ (more on this in a minute) and Dove brand director Lucy Attley.

If you haven’t seen the video for ‘Patches’, watch it here: Personally it gives me goose bumps but I’d love to know what you think. Essentially the social experiment saw Dr Ann, work with a group of women with low self esteem. She spent an hour with each woman discussing their issues before asking them if they would try this new ‘Beauty Patch’. Along with the patch they needed to ask themselves a set of questions and keep a video diary everyday that looked at their choices each day and how they were feeling. They had to record their findings. The video documents snippets of just some of the women’s journeys during this period. At the end of it, they returned for a second session with Dr Ann to record their results. Both she and the participants were amazed at how good they felt. How much more beautiful and confident they were feeling and how their decisions were geared towards feeling good both inside and out – including healthier eating and dressing and shopping more confidently. Dr Ann then asked them to look at the ingredients of the patch… that’s right, you guessed it… NOTHING.

The above experiment wanted to show women that beauty is a state of mind. The way we define beauty in modern, selfie obsessed times is, pretty much rubbish. Because beauty can not be defined by one image or one person alone. Of course we can argue that some people/women are just beautiful – but if you look at the range of women we put on that one pedestal – they all look different. Again calling into question the way we have now begun to validate beauty. If one believes they are beautiful and can recognise their beauty, in all its forms, from achievements, to looks and personality, then surely that is a far greater skill than that of excellent selfie taking skills?

Dr Ann admits she was shocked at how well the women did, although some argued that there must be something in the patch such as caffeine (because she had so much energy) or serotonin (because she had felt so happy) – what it really shows is how much time and energy we are wasting in feeling awful and anxious about ourselves where as if we learned to love ourselves a little more we’d actually just be happy and achieve more.


The whole panel  agreed that actually beauty is a state of mind and it is all down to how we choose to channel our energy. No one claimed it was easy, and i’m not suggesting that we can all just stop all the negativity towards ourselves but if that video shows you anything, is that it is definitely possible to feel better about ourselves and that we can make that change.

So here is a quick round out of the key things we learnt!

– ‘For women how you feel about your body is very intertwined with how you feel about yourself’ (Dr Ann) – in other words you can be the top of your game professionally, or popular socially, but if you can’t deal with what you see in the mirror and can’t except your body, your other achievements are diminished.

Ladies if you are one of these women, it is time to say NO… look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself what you have achieved and why you are beautiful! You may feel a little silly, but do this everyday, morning and night, for 21 days… it takes your brain 21 days to readjust and form a positive opinion.

– Start defining your own boundaries of beautiful, forget whether it fit societies standard of beauty – who really wants to be the same as everyone else, check out the #effyourbeautystandards from @tessmunster on twitter.


– Widen your definition of beauty, identify your strengths… work them… life takes place in our brains.

– Beauty is a source of anxiety for too many women. And are you surprised? We hate on beautiful women and pull them apart because we can’t bare to see confidence or anyone having the audacity to stand up and say ‘HEY I’M AWESOME’. You know what, we need to stop that right now and jump up and down with them and say ‘I’M AWESOME TOO – AND THAT IS NO BAD THING TO BELIEVE IN YOUTSELF’. ‘People are scared to really love themselves, they find self acceptance hard.’

– Talk to your friends, or talk to someone, even a pro – there is no shame in seeking help – if Rihanna can have a life coach and psychologist so can you. ‘Not feeling beautiful is like our own private prison that we don’t even tell our best friend about’ – lets talk.

– Drop the guilt. Stop comparing yourself and putting yourself down. You deserve better. It’s that simple.

– Include yourself in the definition of beauty. It is not something specially held for all others.

And I think Chris who took part in patches said two of the most profound things… Chris said that there were a few light bulb moments even though she had been skeptical from the start.

1. Look for positivity in other women too… If you put down other women, you’re putting yourself down too. Stop looking for the negative. Find a positive.

This was pretty poignant. How often do we look at other women and mock their hair, their make up their choice of shoe. Or reassure ourselves that we are better, curvier, fatter, thinner, taller than them. We fill our brains with negative thoughts, only being able to draw a positive about ourselves by belittling others.

And while some people have suggested the ‘Patches’ experiment tricked women. Chris says she was so happy to find there was nothing in the patch because that meant that all the changes and the way she was feeling was all down to her and that she had the skills to improve her own self esteem and this was a legacy and skill she could teach to her daughter. And let’s be real. It is up to us to set an example and the fact that we have those skills and abilities within ourselves, they just need to be unlocked is pretty darn cool.















-- Editor-in-Chief SLiNK Magazine