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defending dove’s real beauty campaign

A lot of controversy has arisen in Dove’s recent advertisements of their products. But it isn’t their body care items that are turning heads, rather, the people showing them off. One ad that really sparked my interest was The Real Beauty Campaign where women went to a studio and were sketched by a forensic artist according to their descriptions of themselves and then compared to how someone else views them. It really is a beautiful ad that captures the negative tendencies some women have towards themselves and their bodies.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. Many have argued that with Dove’s inclusion of self-conscious women is stereotypical. But really, think about it: how many women would change aspects of their appearance? It’s not stereotypical – it’s just reality. These arguments have people asking where the insecure men are in this footage. Do you really know any men that would publicly display their insecurities? I don’t think so. If they do have self-doubts, they don’t show it, so why address it? Again, this isn’t gender stereotyping; it’s just unfortunately the way the world is at the moment. I think people are becoming a little too sensitive with this whole gender situation. If you are comfortable with your own body then well done, but obviously these women in the advertisement aren’t and are therefore being creatively shown how beautiful they really are.

Critics have pointed out that the ad is merely focussing on just appearances and not pointing out what is more important about a person. It’s only an ad, guys, it’s not a mini movie. The focus is on how women perceive their looks compared to how others see them; it’s not intending to go any deeper than that. It isn’t a therapy session; it’s just an ad to get people talking, and it’s a very thoughtful and educating one at that.

The ad hopes to mend the relationships women have with themselves. I think it’s a great initiative to get women discussing their insecurities and worries about their bodies in order to raise awareness of body dysmorphia. It just goes to show how distorted our views of ourselves can really be compared to how we look in reality.

A new Dove body wash print advertisement (below) has also caused controversy. This advertisement is of three women: a woman of colour, a Latino woman, and a white woman. People are arguing that it is nothing but racial discrimination because the woman of colour appears to be a lot bigger than the white woman shown – she is shown in front of the image of dry and cracked skin whereas the white woman is shown in front of the glowing skin that is the outcome of using their product. This has caused an outrage and has somehow led to accusations that Dove perceives culture as a definition of what is beautiful and ugly.

Dove have fought back responding against the allegations that they had no intentions of any discrimination. They just wanted to include real women to represent their products and that appearance was not a part of the selection.

‘The ad is intended to illustrate the benefits of using Dove VisibleCare Body Wash, by making skin visibly more beautiful in just one week. All three women are intended to demonstrate the “after” product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience,’ they said.

I think it’s time to put all this criticism away. It seems to me that some people just aren’t happy unless they are attacking a company or anyone to do with the media. Dove has an awesome relationship with the Butterfly Foundation and help raise awareness of eating disorders. I don’t think Butterfly would be such good pals with a company that does nothing but discriminate against women. The reality is that women are vulnerable to body negativity. Males are alike but aren’t the target market for Dove. I’m almost positive that men who are struggling with themselves would benefit from the advertisements Dove produces to help with their own body image issues. Dove aren’t a part of the media’s scheme to destroy everything in its path; they are merely ambassadors of self-love and acceptance.

You can view the Real Beauty Campaign here.

 (Image credit)


4 thoughts on “defending dove’s real beauty campaign

  1. Actually, the inference I took about the darker woman in front of the ‘before’ and the lighter woman in front of the ‘after’ was that the product will change your skin colour. I know, I know, I’m ridiculous.

    • This inference isn’t actually that ridiculous when you consider that Dove actually makes skin whitening creams and markets them to women in countries where white skin is considered more beautiful than black skin, which you can read about here or pretty much anywhere on the internet.

      My original piece emphasises this racial discord, noting women of colour have a fraction of the screen time.

      I realise it is ‘only an ad’ and that it’s a marketing tool, so sue them etc etc but that’s kind of just a cop out excuse. Dove is quite happy to perpetuate these kind of movements and empower women in the west (who are for the most part white), but then also wants to shame women of colour, by reinforcing the idea their skin colour is inferior?

      On top of all this, Unilever also owns (and makes big bucks) from Ben & Jerrys (eat those feelings, gurl!) and Slimfast.

      This is not about getting some satisfaction from being critical of big corporations and the ways they try to make us part with our money. It’s about using a feminist lense to critically analyse these sort of ads and call bullshit on their sentimentality.

  2. “The focus is on how women perceive their looks compared to how others see them”, and this focus is functioning as a means to sell a product. The ultimate intention of this ad is not to encourage women to accept themselves exactly for who they are and what they look like, and to judge themselves less harshly, because if that were truly its aim then those viewing the ad would hardly feel encouraged to go out and buy beauty products. Which, by the way, is its fundamental aim. “It’s only an ad, guys,” well, and there’s the flaw in your argument. Advertising controls and manipulates our desires, fears, and our collective search for happiness. One of the main reasons why body dysmorphia is such a common occurrence amongst women is because women constitute an incredibly lucrative consumer market; for most women, clothing, makeup, beauty therapies such as waxing, tanning, laser surgery, etc etc SEEM entirely necessary, because advertising has led them to believe that such products and measures will ensure them happiness, self-confidence, security, validation. However, there’s always a new product on the market; whatever you already own or use isn’t already enough. Consumerism relies upon consumers to keep spending. Insecure women do just that. Women suffer terribly at the hands of consumerism, and this ad is only further proof of this sad truth.

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