By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
And the most beautiful woman in the world is, drum roll please, actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
I would have said my bride, but apparently People Magazine thinks differently.
Sorry, dear, they chose Paltrow to head their annual “Most Beautiful” list. There’s no accounting for some people’s taste.
“I can’t believe it,” Paltrow said of the honor. “I kept thinking, ‘This can’t be true.’ I’ve never been more surprised or flattered.”
Paltrow is not alone in expressing her surprise at being told she’s beautiful. Most women think of themselves as anything but.
Dove, the soap and skin products people, recently released a short film called “Real Beauty Sketches,” in which seven real women were asked to answer questions about their appearance to an FBI-trained forensic artist who was stationed behind a curtain and thus couldn’t see the women.
The artist, Gil Zamora, then produced sketches of the women based on their self-descriptions.
Afterward he drew a second sketch of each woman based on the description of a volunteer who had visited with each one.
The sketches drawn by Zamora based on the women’s self-description show them with wrinkles, shaggy eyebrows, puffy cheeks and dark circles under their eyes.
The sketches based on the volunteer’s description were much more flattering, and more accurate, to boot.
These women focused more on their faults than on their good points.
Which brings to mind the words of the Bard of the Highlands, Robert Burns, who once wrote, “O wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” which, in English, means “Would some power give us the gift to see ourselves as other see us.”
I think most of us would be surprised at how we are perceived, in terms of looks and otherwise.
Of course, the Dove video quickly sparked a parody in which men were subjected to the same experiment.
Except in this case the men err on the side of their own magnificence.
The self-described sketch of one guy looks curiously like Brad Pitt, while the sketch based on the stranger’s description of the same fellow shows a bald, wrinkled, bearded dude.
One fellow’s self-described sketch looked remarkably like George Clooney, while the one sparked by the impartial stranger showed a guy with buggy eyes and a goofy, gap-toothed grin.
One guy described himself as a “white Denzel Washington,” while another says, “I would say the older I’ve gotten, the more stunning I’ve gotten.”
Meanwhile, the strangers, all women, described one fellow as looking like a “lawn gnome,” while another said her gentleman “looked like he smelled, really bad, actually.”
One woman described a man’s eyes as “creepy.”
Needless to say, the two sets of sketches are radically, and hilariously, different.
The parody video concludes, “You aren’t as beautiful as you think,” the polar opposite of the real one, which urges women to remember, “You are more beautiful than you think.”
Both sexes should heed the words directed at them, though I suspect there are plenty of men who have their own self-image problems. I was scarred and shattered when, in grade school, a little girl called me “frog face.” But I got over it.
Dove’s goal with its video, said a company executive, was to “create a world where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety.”
Anxiety about their looks shouldn’t be a problem for three men from the United Arab Emirates, who were recently deported from Saudi Arabia for being “too handsome.”
The men, who were in Saudi Arabia as delegates at a heritage and cultural festival, were singled out and rounded up by the Mutaween, or religious police.
They were taken away and kicked out of the country because they were too handsome and the Mutaween “feared female visitors could fall for them,” according to the Arabic language newspaper, Elaph.
I suppose I’d better scratch Saudi Arabia off my list of potential vacation spots.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.