Is Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign Sketchy?

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Real beauty sketches by Dove | A campaign to improve self-esteem and body imageThere’s a lot of buzz on the internet over the new Dove ad, “Real Beauty Sketches.” If you haven’t seen it, take a look.

Many are questioning whether the commercial in its attempt to address real women’s issues around self-esteem and body image is actually depicting the average woman at all. Some are asking us to look a little closer in an effort to really evaluate the authenticity of their message. And others want to know if we can hold responsible a company like Unilever (which represents hundreds of brands) to a higher standard.

Questions being asked about the Dove ad include, are the women in these ads really ‘real’, or paid models or actresses? Regardless, do they accurately depict real women of every size, shape and color? Is there too much emphasis on thin features vs. rounder features, for example? And finally, does it matter to you that the company that owns Dove (Unilever) also owns AXE and puts out ads such as these?

From Dove’s website:  In a world in which girls are too often held back by low self-esteem and anxiety about their looks, Dove’s Social Mission is to help encourage girls to develop a positive relationship with beauty, helping to raise their self-esteem and thereby enabling them to realize their full potential.

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, but I’m most interested to hear from you. How does the video strike you? Does it matter that there are inconsistencies with brands owned by large conglomerates? Can we just be happy that one brand is stepping up to make some kind of positive impact and celebrate baby steps? Tell us what you think.

Image by Happy Doodie Land

5 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Melanie says:

    I have mixed feelings about the ad also. From my perspective, I was disappointed that no one “plus size” was depicted in the ad. The ad missed the mark with a majority of women in this country.

  • April Deming says:

    I loved this video. If we concentrate only on – ‘do they accurately depict real women of every size, shape and color?’ – I feel the negative response sounds like reverse prejudice. Do we need women of every shape to have the message be heard? I have known many women – of all ages and sizes that see themselves negatively. Wish we could just enjoy the positve message of look at yourself as others see you – as well as how you see yourself. As an ‘artist’ myself – I don’t care if they were paid actresses – I think the point is worth making.

  • I had all the same questions, plus this one: why do we buy into “beauty as empowerment” when there are so many other ways we can choose to empower ourselves (talent, intellect, compassion, athleticism, etc.)?

  • Mog says:

    Honestly I thought the point of the ad was “hey, how you represent the world, (including yourself) to yourself is not the objective Truth, so stop believing it as though it were” – I have been really surprised at people getting up in arms over it not being diverse enough and by people feeling threatened when features are described as ‘thin’. Yup, you CAN read all of that in, but I just took away a whole different message.

    My main criticism of the ad is that police sketch artists work WITH the people describing the image, so there would be some checking back against what they produce.

    I think it would be more interesting if they had worn a bag on their head or something so they could see the sketch and feed back for a more accurate ‘look’ at how they see themselves rather than the sketch artist having no other input to know if he is on the right track. And of course due to the set up of describing self vs other he knows which one to exaggerate and make more of a caricature, and which one to make more beautiful.

    I still think it is a powerful thought experiment about internal representation vs external ‘reality’.

  • Cindy says:

    All of your comments have resonated with me. My initial reaction to the video was a positive one. I did observe at some point that there was not a lot of diversity represented in the commerical, but I chose not to stay in that headspace for long. Instead, I allowed myself to see my own reflection in the story and was reminded that I am guilty of representing an image of myself to myself that is not always based in reality, so my reaction was a positive one. I figure, how bad can a little commercial therapy be?

    Baby steps.

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