Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dove does it again

Last year it was the ‘Evolution’ ad. Starting with a make-up free model, the woman is then made up by make-up artists, has her hair done perfectly, gets some flattering lighting, and then after all that has her picture manipulated digitally to make it thinner and blemish-free. The message from the ad is clear – the images that you see in magazines and on billboards aren’t real. So this perfect ‘beauty’ that women strive to achieve is unachievable, because even models don’t look like this without help. This is, in part, the whole ethos of Dove’s ‘Campaign for real beauty’. It’s all about letting women, young and old, know that they are beautiful. Whatever their weight, height, race, etc, they should never feel pressure to conform to the ‘ideal’ presented to them on a daily basis through the media, fashion and beauty industries.

I’m always in two minds about these adverts and the campaign in general. Overall, the company conveys a positive image and behind the adverts the company also run a ‘self-esteem fund’ which develops and distributes resources to “enable and empower women and girls to embrace a broad definition of beauty” and also provides resources to organisations that foster a broader definition of beauty. In addition, they also give talks in classrooms across the UK on the topic, again encouraging girls to build up a positive body-image however they may look. And it is not only in the UK and the US this campaign runs, but across the globe. All of which is excellent and I think / hope it does / will make a real difference to some women’s / girls’ self esteem. But then you look at who their parent company is – Unilever – and it all starts to unravel a bit. Aren’t those the same ‘perfect’ models they are using to promote their other products that they just criticised the beauty industry for using over at Dove? Hmm...

Aside from this however, Dove has brought out a new advert to follow on from their Evolution spot from last year. ‘Onslaught’ shows a barrage of the type of images that young girls are subject to every day. And putting myself in their shoes, I reckon it must be fairly hard when you’re young and impressionable not to be affected by them. Even as grown women many of us are affected, so what chance have young girls got?

The message from the ad is to speak to you daughter before the beauty industry does. Although I’m not completely in love the ad itself, the message behind it is very powerful and is conveyed well. Will it win the awards that Evolution did? Who knows? More importantly, will it encourage women to speak to their children about this issue and help instil a positive self-image in their minds? Would they not be doing this anyway?
Still, it does remind us self-esteem begins building, or conversely, being destroyed early on and if the media/fashion/beauty industries seem intent on showing children an unachievable ‘perfection’ it’s our responsibility to let them know that they should strive to achieve it at all, but simply be comfortable in their own skin. Hopefully it will sink in.

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