A former San Jose police officer is the star of a new video that has women rethinking the way they judge their own appearance.
Gil Zamora, 52, is a forensic sketch artist who has been contracting his skills to law enforcement agencies in Santa Cruz County and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since he left the San Jose Police Department in 2011. He was tapped earlier this year to work on a video for Dove, as part of the company's Real Beauty Campaign.
The commercial was shown to the public for the first time April 16 when it aired on the "Today" show. Released to the public the following day, the video, which is available in 3- and 6-minute segments, has gone viral and has been seen by millions around the world.
The father of six, including a daughter and three stepdaughters, Zamora knew firsthand how hard women can be on themselves when it comes to their appearance.
"They don't see themselves as others see them," he said. "They can be their own worst critics."
The theme of the "Real Beauty Sketches" video campaign is that women are more beautiful than they realize. To make that point, Zamora spent nearly three days in a studio sketching women's faces. He drew facial images of 20 different women without seeing them for himself.
Instead, he asked them to tell him about their hair, nose, eyes, chins, cheeks and other features after spending some time building rapport with the models to help them relax and feel comfortable talking to him.
"I only got to speak to them from behind a walled curtain," Zamora said. "None of them were overly confident. On average, every one had something that they weren't happy about that definitely resonated in their descriptions" of themselves.
One woman described a scar below her nose. Another said her mother had told her she had a big jaw. A third mentioned her nose was slightly off center because she had broken it years before.
Later, he created another sketch by asking people who had met the model in the studio to describe what they saw. The two sketches were hung together and shown to the models, illustrating the big gap between how people view themselves and how they are seen by others. In all cases, the sketches created by witness description showed a more beautiful image, and were far more flattering.The realization that others saw them as better looking than they saw themselves brought tears to the eyes of many of the models.
Many viewers reacted the same way when they watched the video. Zamora has received thousands of email messages from women and men describing how moved they were by the videos.
Hundreds of women who saw the ad also posted their responses on Facebook, and thousands of people have shared the ad online."My husband showed me the video tonight," wrote Eva Gonzalez. "For years he has heard me complain about my weight or the way I perceive myself and his response has always been you are beautiful to me. Tonight I finally get it."
While there were a few critics, most of the comments were positive.
"This is an amazing video and an even more amazingly valuable lesson," posted Erin Irvine Lynch.Zamora won't say how much he was paid to do the videos, but he is happy to talk about the Dove Real Beauty Campaign.
"What a great message," Zamora said. "It's resonating with a lot of people."
Zamora, who was born in Texas, has lived in San Jose since 1965. He joined the San Jose Police Department in 1985. He began working as a forensic sketch artist in 1995, after being trained by the FBI.
Despite his recent brush with fame, Zamora is not looking to pursue more advertising campaign work. Instead, he is focusing on his career as a forensic sketch artist and assisting law enforcement agencies throughout the region. Zamora has produced more than 3,000 sketches of suspects in high-profile crimes throughout the region.
"When you're looking for unknown subjects, it's the best way to get a lead," Zamora said. "I definitely want to continue to work with the great investigators in the Bay Area."