Aside from the feminist issues with the fact that Dove’s “Real Beauty” videos assume physical attractiveness is the sole path to happiness, the basic premise broadcast in them–mainly, that people see themselves as less attractive than they really are-–is also just plain wrong. Scientific American reports that instead, people believe they’re far more beautiful than they are in reality. In fact, as SciAm writes, “Most of us think that we are better than we actually are — not just physically, but in every way.”
In one study, two university scientists took portraits of people and enhanced them to make them look more attractive. When they showed the modified picture and the original portrait and asked people to identify the original, most people chose the photo that showed them as more attractive. Of course, when choosing between an original and a modified photo of a stranger, participants correctly identified the modified one–meaning that though we tend to see ourselves through rose-colored glasses, the same courtesy isn’t applied to others.
The whole phenomenon is called “self-enhancement,” and it probably has a lot to do with why we take so many selfies. But don’t worry, we still think you’re beautiful–even if science doesn’t.