The Dove “Real Beauty” debate

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign purports to replace idealized (skinny) images of women with more realistic ones, with the tagline.   “You’re more beautiful than you think.”

MS Magazine’s Danielle Nelson analyses what else is going on in the Dove ad video.

“At first glance, this video seemed comforting, almost therapeutic as an antidote against our airbrushed versions of beauty typified by Hollywood and glossy magazine covers. Instead of telling women to lose weight, apply makeup correctly and  dress for our body


shapes, Dove (which sells skin and hair-care products) reassured us that we are beautiful despite our self-confessed flaws. But there was something deeply distressing about the message behind this Dove ad:

“With soothing music playing in the background, the ad traces various women as they describe themselves to a former forensic artist. From behind the curtain, he sketches, following their lead while also completing a second portrait—one based on how a stranger describes the woman. At the end, the artist unveils the two portraits side-by-side. On the one hand, it is quite moving to see the women tear up as they see that others find them more attractive than they see themselves. What woman doesn’t want to feel empowered and confident in her own skin? But among many other problematic aspects of this ad, Dove wants us to know that being beautiful is still what matters most. And by beautiful, they mean society’s narrowly defined cultural perception of beauty — i.e., white, thin, young, blonde.

“This is a problem.The blaring flaw of Dove’s rationale is the company’s expectation that it is a woman’s responsibility to feel better about herself. Society doesn’t need to change; we do. Really, Dove? In response to the ad, Kate Fridkis, a body-image blogger, wrote: The world has to meet us halfway by convincing us that there’s a lot more to us than the way we look, and that those things are, believe it or not, even more important than the way we look.Dove is well known for their “real beauty” feel good ad campaigns. Inspired by a company report in 2004 and again in 2011 that found only 2-4% of women consider themselves beautiful, Dove launched a series of ads to spark dialogue and challenge definitions of beauty as part of their greater “social mission.”After the success of the viral video “Real Beauty Sketches”, Dove released another ad earlier this month. While “Camera Shy,” a short montage style video, still reminds women that being beautiful matters, they add a follow-up question:

“When did you stop thinking you were beautiful?”


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