Gina Mei
Updated Apr 08, 2015 @ 6:56 am

Self-love can be a fickle thing.

When we’re constantly inundated with images and examples of the “ideal,” it can be easy to forget what makes us beautiful. As much as we try to practice kindness with others, it’s somehow always more difficult to be kind to ourselves. We are our own harshest critics, after all — but it’s just as important that we also try to remember what makes us so wonderful. Learning to love yourself is a personal journey, but it’s also a conscious decision. And in Dove’s latest video, they ask the compelling question: what if feeling beautiful is a choice, too?

The short film, called “Dove: Choose Beautiful,” takes place in five cities — San Francisco, Shanghai, Delhi, London, and São Paolo — where Dove set up marked doors for “Beautiful” and “Average.” The camera crew then observed how women reacted to the choice, and how they ultimately labeled themselves in their everyday. Some made the choice quickly, others seemed to give it some thought, and one even walked away.

Most women — perhaps unsurprisingly, but no less dishearteningly — chose to label themselves as average. When asked why, their answers brought light to something huge. One said calling herself “beautiful” felt too far out of reach, another claimed she didn’t even hesitate in labeling herself as average, another said she wasn’t at all sure why she didn’t choose beautiful. But their answers all led to the same question.

“Am I choosing because of what’s constantly bombarded at me and what I’m being told that I should accept?” one woman asked. “Or am I choosing because that’s what I really believe?”

According to the Huffington Post, along with releasing the video, Dove interviewed women from 20 countries around the world on “how they perceive beauty in themselves and other women.” The results are staggering: 96% of the women surveyed said they don’t consider themselves beautiful, yet 80% believe that all women have something beautiful about them. The research just further proves how difficult it is for us to accept and acknowledge our own beauty.

“It was a bit confronting, actually, to be honest; to see these big signs and feeling like you had to choose and be self-conscious of how you perceived yourself and perhaps if it lines up with how the rest of the world sees you,” another woman in the video said.

All it takes is one look at any magazine rack to see that women are constantly objectified — but when we find pleasure in our own beauty, we are swiftly criticized for it. Women are all too often judged or put down for loving ourselves, but each and every one of us is deserving of that self-love. The video makes some incredible commentary on how women perceive themselves, but it also offers all of us some major inspiration. The women who chose the “Beautiful” door felt empowered by their choice.

“It was quite a triumphant feeling,” one woman said. “It was like telling the world, ‘I think I’m beautiful.'”

The video ends by asking which you would choose — and, full disclosure, I still struggled with picking beautiful myself, which just goes to show how essential the campaign’s message is.

“Beauty is a choice available to all of us every day,” Dove said on their #ChooseBeautiful website. “However, it’s a simple truth that women all over the world don’t feel able to see themselves as beautiful. Mindfulness is a way of helping us all think more positively about ourselves by learning to appreciate our own unique beauty.”

As one of the women in the video said, “Beautiful is a great word; so why not see what’s on the other side of that?” Watch the video for yourself, and join in on the discussion on social media with the hashtag #ChooseBeautiful.

(Images via, via.)