Monday, April 15, 2013

Not Buying It

So, Dove Soap has released the newest instalment of their "Campaign for Real Beauty," with this video called Real Beauty Sketches. In it, women are asked to describe their own faces to a former police sketch artist, who sketches them sight unseen based on their description. 

Then, they have a chat with a stranger, who also describes their new friend's face to the sketch artist. The new sketch is much more attractive than the sketch based on the women's own self descriptions, since they told the sketch artist about all the things they don't like about their own faces, but the new friend only thought they looked great. 

On the surface, this seems like a nice message. Of course we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves and we should recognize our own beautiful qualities. 

However, I just can't shake my cynicism when it comes to this campaign. I can't help noticing that the ad begins with the women listing things they don't like about their faces. They have crows feet, or they have dark circles, or their face is fat and round, or their lips aren't full enough. You know when I start to feel that I don't like my face? When other people start talking about all the things that might be wrong with it. 

Even when the more attractive sketch is revealed, the women portrayed describe them in terms that are more "Hollywood Beauty" than "Real Beauty." For example, the positive descriptors include "thin," "small chin," "short, cute nose," "much younger," etc. 

The ad goes on to emphasize how important it is to be grateful for your natural beauty (much easier when you're young, thin, have a short, cute nose, full lips, and no crows feet), stating that "It couldn't be more critical to your happiness!"

I can think of a few things that are more critical to your happiness than fitting into culturally dominant beauty standards, and the people I know who focus on them are radiant regardless of the shape of their nose. 

As well intentioned as this campaign seems, at the root it's still about instilling insecurities into women, thereby manufacturing an artificial need to compel them to buy products (that are incidentally full of unhealthy chemicals). 

Sorry Dove, NOT BUYING IT!


  1. Thank you for this post! While I was watching the video I felt torn between "aww, how nice is this" and feeling really...icky inside. I started to think "I wish I had HER nose" and "ugh, ya, I hate the bags under my eyes"...all thoughts I had had before, but were in this case brought to the forefront of my mind by the campaign. Why does a video that is obviously intended to make me feel good about myself make me suddenly all the more insecure? Because it once again centers my value on how others perceive me based on my appearance. ette, thank you for this post - I am also not buying it.

  2. I can’t stand hearing phrases like “I have some work to do on myself,” in this ad. I get it that she is talking about being less hard on herself, but still, why is she taking blame! Why does she believe that it’s HER that needs to change. One of the main reasons she feels inadequate about herself to begin with is that companies like Dove sell products to women to make us look younger, have smoother skin, smell better, etc. And now women are being encouraged to apologize for being too hard on OURSELVES?! WTF! Stop selling us products we don't actually need, Dove.

  3. Another article that offers another, similar, perspective on Dove's ad: