March 18, 2009

"Real Beauty" is NOT For Me

Dove Real Beauty? Nope. Not to me. I argue that the Dove Real Beauty Campaign is in fact WORSE for my self-esteem than seeing Kate Moss try to see me make-up in all her stick-thin and genetically beautiful made-up glory. Why? Because I don't have to look like that. She's a model. She's presented to me as a model. Her living is to be pretty. She has trainers and nutritionists and stylists and make-up artists and people to do her laundry and raise her kid for her. I, however, blow-dry my own hair and get no guidance about which muscle groups to work when I'm at the gym. I'm fine with this. Models are a class of people apart. They are paid to be striking and that's fine. When I see the Dove "real beauty" campaign, though, it pisses me off.

While I might realize I don't have to measure up to a 6 foot tall Russian model because I just genetically didn't have the material necessary to be 6 feet tall with super long legs, when you show me a group of women who universally have great skin, pretty good physical proportions and cute faces, I might actually feel inadequate when you call this a beauty revolution and say this is what all "real women" look like. This is "real" beauty. Um, no. It DOESN'T reflect diversity. Everyone seems able-bodied. No one is visibly deformed. I see no visible scars. And even when the woman are larger (and the usually aren't that large at all), they still have the type of bodily proportions we find beautiful. They look like plus-sized models, but that's still a model.

When you tell me this campaign is a democratization in beauty but really only show me women I probably would have found beautiful before Dove tried to "expand my mind", you really only make me feel worse. IF this is real, ordinary beauty and I don't measure up, well, surely that will make me feel worse than not measuring up to a supermodel. Now all you've done is just make people who don't feel as pretty as the quite pretty women in the Dove ads feel that they are "below average" because you are trying to pass these Dove Chicks off as totally average and ordinary.

Don't sell me a false beauty revolution. Kate Moss can sell me make-up any day. Sure, the women in the Dove ads aren't as conventionally stunning or Modelesque as she is, but it's not a revolution to pass off pretty girls as "average" and pretend you've created a "beauty democracy."

1 comment:

Lux said...

I still can't move past the fact that it's the same marketing team developing ads for Dove as for Axe Body Spray.

I guess this campaign makes perfect sense from a stark, heartless marketing perspective, though: Make the beauty appear more attainable and thus transfer the onus of looking beautiful away from genetics and onto the woman herself. Position beauty as something accessible, something attainable through simply buying the products. This way, if a woman doesn't buy the products, its as if she's consenting to being less beautiful than the women in the ads, and accepting - no, inviting - the subsequent social hostility directed at her.

Stealthy, Dove, I'll give you that. However, I genuinely believe women read these texts more critically than we give them credit for. They know when there's a product to be sold. They know there's a capitalist agenda shrouded in a seemingly benevolent message. I think your post is a great example of that.