Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign and the need to acknowledge a harmful beauty culture

I was going to write a post about the Dove beauty campaign, but this reblog says my thoughts exactly. I had mixed emotions about Dove’s beauty campaign. At first I was like, “oh that’s nice”, then I was like “hmm, so we’re supposed to cry when we find out strangers DON’T think we’re ugly?” Wow. What about “*I* don’t think I’m ugly?” No? I wear makeup and other beauty products, etc. OF COURSE like every woman, I’ve struggled with my image, but truthfully very little, except in the middles school years. Of course, if someone were to verbalize their distaste for my looks it would sting. But for the most part I really don’t care, and not because I’m vain, I just somehow accidentally developed self-esteem. Even when I gained weight (which I’ve now lost) it effected my self-image very little if at all. When I watched the campaign, I wondered, if I had a sketch artist draw me and my self-perception looked WAY more awesome than reality, would that be wrong? Lol. If a stranger’s version of me was “uglier” I’m not sure I would care. That’s the truth, so I guess I was raised wrong! I was telling my husband about this campaign the other day, and I said “I’ve never struggled horribly with body image, maybe there is something wrong with me?” He said “I don’t struggle with your body image either” (I cried with gratitude of course, lol jk) If I’m ugly I hope to stay comfortably in denial 🙂 Oh, and readers out there with daughters, please raise them to have self-respect and confidence that only comes from within. Raise them just a LITTLE bit wrong: may result with extreme pride in your offspring. Oh, a final thought, I agree that Dove can’t be too graceful about beauty because women with too much confidence would be bad for the economy & beauty industry.

Trial of the Century

I’ve watched the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign with mixed feelings over the last couple of years.

On the one hand, it’s a counterpoint to intense cultural pressures to be thinner and prettier. Women I know have said it’s a relief to see a mainstream voice that praises women, instead of undermining them.

But there’s something troubling about the whole thing: at its core the “Real Beauty” campaign isn’t about redefining beauty, it’s about slightly pushing the envelope on the current definition.

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11 thoughts on “Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign and the need to acknowledge a harmful beauty culture

  1. It’s hard to think where they are going with this campaign. I think that it is great to see how people perceieve themselves, but they are noting that those specific attributes are deemed “ugly.” I have read posts congraulating this campaign and then posts that aren’t very happy with this. I commend Dove for their efforts, but they are also owned by Unilever that owns Axe. Or it’s someway, Dove owns Unilever or vice versa, can’t remember.

    • I honestly wonder if women are so maligned by popular forms of media that when a brand doesn’t completely pile on, it seems graceful.

      I just hate the idea that Dove’s campaign is the best we can do. I know so many amazing and awesome women who they could have used for their campaign instead that would have focused on much more interesting and compelling definitions of beauty (smart, strong, hard working, humorous, etc…). I don’t think they are dumb, it just seems like a cynical ploy to me.

      • Right, I agree. Also, Dove is in bed with Slim Fast apparently….. so they can’t let women get too cocky. Got some shakes to sell! (which are packed with sugar by the way)

    • Right, they are sort of walking the line, It’s great to recognize that women are ridiculously critical on themselves, which is good I think. But it also can communicate that women need to depend greatly on outside approval.

  2. My gut reaction to the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign has always been a positive one. I’ve enjoyed seeing various body types portrayed in their ads and I have been a Dove user for years and enjoy their products. I understand what people are saying in a negative reaction, but honestly, after years of anorexic women walking runways and dominating ads it’s just nice to see something different.

  3. I agree with you that self-respect needs to come from inside of ourselves, not from what others think of us. I think I ticked off some friends in the past when I didn’t comment on their major weight loss triumphs while other people were continually saying to them “you look amazing!” “wow, you look terrific!” One friend called me on my lack of comment and I said, “I thought you were amazing before you lost the weight. Because you seemed to know you were amazing before. So why would I tell you you’re amazing now when you always have been?” It’s the whole issue of whether beauty should be determined by ourselves or others. I say ourselves, and I’m hoping to raise my 2-year-old daughter to believe that. Not an easy task, though, in our society.

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