Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty"

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audra trower wi...
Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty"


audra trower wi...


The Dove Self-Esteem Fund

Whether it's models that wear a size 2 or movie stars with exceptional curves, beauty pressures are everywhere. And when young girls find it hard to keep up, low self-esteem can take over.

Why did we create the Dove Self-Esteem Fund?

* Over 50% of women say their body disgusts them (Dove Internal Study, 2002)
* The body fat of models and actresses portrayed in the media is at least 10% less than that of healthy women (British Medical Association, 2000)
* 6 out of 10 girls think they’d “be happier if they were thinner“ (UK Teen Body Image Survey, Jan 2004)
* While only 19% of teenage girls are “overweight,” 67% think they “need to lose weight” ( UK Teen Body Image Survey, Jan 2004)

What do you think of [url=]this[/url]?

If it's marketing disguised as good politics, but it actually has an impact, what do you think about that, too?

[ 12 November 2004: Message edited by: audra trower williams ]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I think it's a good thing, of its kind.

However, I want to know this: Why, on the picture of the small-breasted woman, were the choices "half full" and "half empty"? I wanted to vote "just right". "Half" is the derogatory part, after all...


They are certainly doing it for their own marketing needs but it could be influential.


I noticed one of those billboards in downtown Toronto, near Bay and Dundas. It was a picture of a woman with major, major freckles - and it said something like, freckles or beauty spots? I forget the exact words. It was startling at first, because it's not the kind of model that traditionally graces billboards, but when you looked at the woman for more than a second, you could really appreciate her beauty. I thought it was great.

Yeah, it's all marketing. But it's refreshing to see marketing that isn't just showcasing the .05% of women who are supermodels.

Oh that was it - I just saw it on the web site. It said, "Ugly spots or beauty spots?"

[ 13 November 2004: Message edited by: Michelle ]

Reality. Bites.


Originally posted by audra trower williams:
[b]If it's marketing disguised as good politics, but it actually has an impact, what do you think about that, too?[/b]

Whether a product/service/philosophy is good or bad, people/corporations will cash in on it.

If Dove manages to sell its products while promoting self-esteem, that's better for women and girls than them doing it by promoting negative self-images, but the motive is really profit. I don't see them as deserving either praise or condemnation for it.

Puetski Murder

I have the freckles vs. beauty spots near my place. I guess I like the campaign because everybody looks nice, fresh and normal. I like my supermodels but I know that they don't use drugstore products, so those campaigns have little effect on me.

The Wizard of S...

Actually, the stuff's pretty good. I've switched from K-pak conditioner to Dove. It's 3/4 as good at 1/5 the price. That makes good financial sense.

audra trower wi...

I like it, too! I don't think Dove has ever been one of the big culprits as for as using scrawny models goes, but it's nice to see them doing something so great. I think they're the first beauty-industry place to do something like giving money to eating-disorder treatment.



I like it, too!

I thought that Irish Spring had copyrighted that line. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

My freckles have faded away, not on my arms but on my face. When I was young, they embarrassed me so much. Now, I miss them.

Be careful what you wish for. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]


Everyone guess where I have a freckle.


P'Tachk! Hinterland. Don't go there, or I shall have to cut out of you!

Well, folks, I admit I'm a bit of a sucker for female beauty, including the super-hyped pro models who get paid just to look better than anyone who has to live and work in the real world.

But I also have great appreciation for the more natural beauty and the working class attractive women "real look." I find my wife as dashing now as the day I met her.

While I suppose this new campaign by Dove has some merit in promoting largely un-enhanced beauty, I have a much bigger beef with the fashion and personal hygiene industries.

I find it a real piss-off that kids are being targeted by sleazy ad campaigns to get them (or to get their parents) to spend all kinds of money on pricy fashions that clearly are intended for more mature people.

It bugs me to see 10 and 12-year-old girls, who have barely hit puberty, trying to dress and look like Britney Spears, who is 23. In additional to the monetary rip-off, I think it sends very powerful, and often confusing, sexual messaging to kids who are not mature enough to handle it. This is one way that leads to a lot of unwanted pregnancy and the greater reliance of abortion, like discussed on another thread here.

This absolute sleaze as its worst, and I think it's almost as bad a tobacco firms targeting young kids in their ad campaigns to encourage them to start smoking.

I'm not sure what can be done about this. I don't like heavy-handed state censorship, since that always ends up hurting the average working class person. And when a trend usually starts among large groups of people, including kids, it's almost impossible to discourage.

Any ideas on this?

exiled armadillo

Small aside:


It bugs me to see 10 and 12-year-old girls, who have barely hit puberty, trying to dress and look like Britney Spears, who is 23.

If and when peak oil hits and our economies go into a recession, do you think this aspect of our lives will change as well?


I'm sceptical of all this - of course it's good that they're giving money to worthwhile charities and promoting alternatives to the cookie cutter version of beauty, but you can't ignore that they're only doing it to make a buck. For example, before I left the UK in June big Dove ads were gracing all of the city buses. They were photos of 'real' women with curves in their underwear with some catchy, feel good slogan - and then you saw they were advertising one of those firming skin moisturizer things.

Le T Le T's picture


Small aside:
It bugs me to see 10 and 12-year-old girls, who have barely hit puberty, trying to dress and look like Britney Spears, who is 23.

If and when peak oil hits and our economies go into a recession, do you think this aspect of our lives will change as well?

What the hell does this mean?

exiled armadillo

There is a lot of proof that the world has passed its peak oil production. As we all know our (Canada and US) economies are based on mass consumption. Everything plastic is made by oil, oil is needed to drive it to stores etc. As these shipping et al. costs go up so will the prices of everything as the store owners pass on the prices to the consumers.

So if the price of oil goes up astronomically, its presumed that our economies will nose dive into a recession, some are saying one that will rival if not be 3 times worse than the 1930's depression.

I am wondering what the effect will be in a more social context. Will our society regress so that our young women will buy more durable clothes instead of the spandex and rayon (synthetic fibers) clothes we see now?

So many of us apparently are looking to find fulfillment in a mall, by competing with the jones' but if all this reverses I am wondering what the face of our new world will look like.


That is a problem. I'm not into fashion fads the way the young girls are, but a certain amount of spandex is needed to keep even ... real beauty ... in its place. Not just for beauty (or decency) but for comfort!

Rayon is made from plant fibres, not petroleum, I believe, unlike nylon and polyester...

exiled armadillo


Basic Principles of Rayon Fiber Production — In the production of rayon, purified cellulose is chemically converted into a soluble compound. A solution of this compound is passed through the spinneret to form soft filaments that are then converted or “regenerated” into almost pure cellulose.


Although rayon was a man-made fiber, it was not a pure synthetic since its basic component, cellulose, was naturally fibrous.

Looks like we are both right.


True. Rayon is not a "natural fibre" like cotton, hemp or linen, but it is plant-based.

That doesn't solve the "supportive foundation garments" problem, however. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

audra trower wi...

I'd be more skeptical if it was like, Gucci or something. I don't see Dove being big culprits of forwarding The Beauty Myth. I mean, yeah, I'm sure they're doing it for marketing, but so are all the companies. I'd rather my marketing look like this ...


than this ...


any day of the week.


I just [b]looooooove it[/b] when marketing is separated from labour practices:



Both Hindustan Lever Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of British-Dutch multinational company Unilever[owners of Dove], as well as the American multinational Monsanto are making use of hazardous forms of child labour in cotton seed production in India on a large scale, the India Committee of the Netherlands reports. An estimated 25,000 children, mostly girls, work an average of ten to thirteen hours a day for Hindustan Lever, while around 17,000 children work for Monsanto and its Indian subsidiary Mahyco. These children get no education, earn less than Rs.20 a day and are exposed to poisonous pesticides like Endosulphan during their work. More than 11,000 children work under similar conditions for the multinationals Syngenta (Swiss), Advanta (Dutch-British) and Proagro (owned by Bayer of Germany).

Unilever is one of the chief proponents of market liberalization. I wonder what line of products they would like to sell to the young girls working in their fields?


That's a good idea. People should write to them and ask.


anyone else see a similarity between dove's ad campaign and the fact that nicoteen patches are made by cigarette companies?

create a disease then sell them the cure.

audra trower wi...

You seriously think that Dove products have contributed greatly to the prevalence of eating disorders?

Their labour practices, however, are something they should totally be called on.

remind remind's picture

I think this is a stunning picture, on its own not even opposed to the heroin chick.


Originally posted by audra trower williams:
[b] I'd rather my marketing look like this ...


any day of the week.[/b]


There's something cynical going on, no doubt, and it might even be as bad as "give them the disease then sell them the cure"

but there's a Dove billboard on the Gardiner near the skydome, and that plus-size model is very cute.

I'm in a bad way though. I dig skinny gals strung-out on heroin A-N-D healthy ladies too.
16-60. [not really]

Princess Denise

Unfortunately the Dove ads are evidence of what often happens when corporations take on social issues - good ideas gone bad.

I really like the ads - except the one on the gardiner where people can vote whether the model is "fat or fab". lately the percentages (based on votes on the dove website) suggest that she is "fat". Now i mean really. this completely undermines the whole point of their campaign, and is just another reminder that society is totally fatphobic.



[url= saw this for the first time today,[/url] even though the campaign was a couple of years ago.


It was just a few weeks ago that the Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty" ads featuring recognizably curvy women got plastered on the walls of major metropolitan bus and subway stations. Only days ago, the unexpected media storm about the campaign reached a late crescendo with an Op-Ed in the New York Times. And now, seemingly out of nowhere, come the Nike Big Butts and Thunder Thighs, protruding from the pages of fashion magazines as part of the company's "Just Do It" campaign for fall.

They have links to the advertisements, which are neat, especially the "big butt" and "thunder thighs" ones.

Pride for Red D...

I equally love these adds. However, does anyone here realize that Unilever also makes Axe deoderent with those very mysogonist adds about women being unable to resist men simply because they smell good ?


I didn't know that! Figures, though.


Maybe there's a new campaign on the horizon? Because I've also stumbled over mentions of Dove lately.

[url=]How I Became a Dove Girl[/url]


[img][/img]I liked those Dove ads because I enjoy looking at healthy robust women showing their bodies.
That 'big butt' picture was kinda sexy, too.
Pardon me for indulging my heterosexual obsessions in this forum, I just can't help myself.


An interesting part of the article on the Tyee is Melnyk's assertion that feeling beautiful is a "choice."


And then I remembered. "Feeling beautiful is a choice," I wrote. Indeed, it wasn't a birthright, a natural right of passage or even a gradual swell of self-appreciation. It was a choice I had made only recently in my mid-30s after a full-out navel-gazing tirade that took up precious years and included countless regrets.


Some men also have issues with defining "real' beauty.


Look at photos of celebrities when they first come on the scene compared to later in their careers.They go from healthy to haggard. Dove is just as guilty as the rest of the potion manufacturers for prodding insecurities.

[url=]Here[/url] is another example of manufacturers perverting public perceptions and health risks for their profit.

The subject is breast feeding but I think it also is germaine to the issue of what women will do to furthur the "campaign for real beauty" due to manipulative profit seekers.


The newest ad in Dove's campaign, called "Onslaught"

Polly B Polly B's picture

Wow. I like that.

Pride for Red D...

They should really be putting that on TV- the wider the audience the better.


Yeah, they're all about "real beauty" all right. At least, HERE they are.

In India, however, "real beauty" = white, according to Unilever, the company that owns Dove.

[url=]Fair and Lovely - because apparently fair IS lovely.[/url]

[ 23 October 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]

Pride for Red D...

that maybe has to do with who heads that section ( I'm not justifying anything)- but with reagrds to the first article objections, I think that given what's out there, something is better than nothing. Apart from the dove campaign, Unilever is much like other cosmetics companies that they criticise !


Another thing to think about:

Unilever also owns Axe Deoderant and Slim Fast.

Maybe Dove should talk to THEIR parent?


No kidding, huh? Welcome, btw!

Makwa Makwa's picture

As well as transferring the social responsibility of filtering mysogynist corporate messanges to the parent (while simultaniously presenting young girls in atypically homogeneous attractive images) the ad successfully co-opts and appropriates the critical 'culture jamming' style of resistance without seriously displaying the substance.


[url=! Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" ads actually kind of fake[/url]


Remember the first ads for Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, when it flaunted its defiance of the beauty and fashion industries with images of love-handled and cellulite-prone “real” women? Turns out those photos, according to the May 12, 2008 issue of The New Yorker, were as digitally manipulated as any skinny model-festooned fashion spread. It’s mentioned in a Lauren Collins profile of the toucher-upper himself, Pascal Dangin, who works regularly for Vogue, Dior, Balenciaga, and many others. Hear what Dangin has to say about the Dove project on page 100:

"Do you know how much retouching was on that?" He asked. "But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive."


Having worked in art and design, that sort of retouching doesn't bother me at all. As one of the commenters wrote in:


Julie Dennehy
May 18, 2008 05:02 PM
Not hard to believe at all. I think society likes to pretend we are naive, but we know that no self-respecting art director (or client) is going to feature a "real" model with pock marks, day surgery or bike trip scars, and uneven skin tones - as "real" as those things are, they just don't sell products unfortunately.

You also sometimes have to adjust colour values when you have models of very different skin tones - something we want to see. If not, in photography sometimes the white person will appear as a ghost or the black person as a featurless silhouette.

In terms of people we know and love, day surgery or bicycle spill scars can be endearing, but it is very different when staring at blow-up photos of a perfect stranger.

My problem with the ads is much more the fact that the parent company also promotes utterly opposite values, and even harmful practices such as skin bleaching.


Ah, this whole Dove/Unilever and 'real beauty' campaign rather burns my ass. Giving with one hand and taking with the other doesn't always add up to something socially or morally valuable. I appreciate the links some of the participants have posted. Greenpeace has also put together a video with respect to Unilever:
Talk to Dove | Greenpeace International
[url=][/url] (I hope I've linked that properly, as I am not great at this stuff).

I have a friend who won a Dove "make under" contest -- she came in "first" out of thousands of applicants across Canada. It was a big pampering trip to Toronto, lots of products, a professional photo-shoot, etc. They enhanced (grossly exaggerated) the amount of 'before' makeup so that they could then should her 'real' beauty with the make under. On a day to day basis, she wears no make up and sent in pictures of herself in which she wore no make up as part of the contest application. She was on the cover of some pharmacy flyers, etc -- 'before' and 'after'. It made us all laugh, her included. Is there any corporate marketing scheme that can be taken at face value? I don't think so.


That's interesting, WendyL. I've never heard of their "make under" contest.

I'm not surprised at all about them touching up the photos of "real women". Anyone remember Mode Magazine? It was a fashion magazine catering to larger women. Not only were most of the women a size 12 or 14 (with only the occasional size 18 or 20 or 22), but the photos were clearly airbrushed. I haven't met a fat woman yet (and I'm one of them!) who has had such flat stomachs, absolutely no stretch marks, no cellulite, etc.

I remember reading Mode Magazine and feeling almost exactly the same as I did reading the size zero fashion mags. I thought, "Gee, maybe if I diet and exercise, I could look like these models." In fact, I felt it MORE reading Mode, because it tricked me into thinking the photoshopped women in that magazine were more attainable than the photoshopped women in the skinny mags.