The Vagenda

Dove Knows You’re Beautiful. No, Really


[Ed. – You can watch the Dove Campaign For Real Beauty sketching advert here.]
Hi ladies,
It’s your friends, Dove! Remember us? We reminded you a while back that you can be beautiful EVEN IF you’re above a size 10 by getting a bunch of Real Women to pose in their underwear? Don’t listen to those other bad, mean ads, listen to our nice ones! We want to talk to you, Real Woman to Real Woman. And we want to tell you that girl, you so pretty! Anyone can be beautiful, even regular old you! The main thing is, don’t forget that beautiful is what it’s important to be.
The message we’re getting at is not that there are a million, equally valid ways to look and be in the world, or even that you gotta use something to wash and it might as well be Dove. The important message is DON’T PANIC, you are beautiful! You still have value as a woman because of your natural beauty that is OF COURSE there, even if you don’t perceive it. Even if you would describe yourself as “fat,” having “dark circles” or, god forbid, “a mole,” actually no one sees that when they look at you, you carefully curated selection of white women under 45!
Did you see how much more beautiful the outsider-described drawings were than the sketch representing the women’s self-image? With just one gauzy curtain and weirdly airy warehouse (plus FBI artist, fancy) we have shown you what years and years of advertising has done to female self-perception: fucked it right up, basically. And wrongly so. “You are more beautiful than you think [use Dove products],” is our slogan. But underneath that, please recall the deeper truth we have presented to y’all, in the words of one of our own test subjects:
“I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices and the friends we make, the jobs we go out for, they way we treat our children, it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”
You see, this story of low-self esteem has a happy ending: she was pretty the whole time! She just didn’t know! Only SHE sees those dark circles, yaaaay! If you happen to actually have dark circles, or a “fat face,” or a small nose or any of the other little quibbles the women in the video had with their appearance, bully for you. Either hope your self-perception is impossibly warped and that’s not the case, or go about your life knowing for sure that you aren’t beautiful. In which case you’re probably also a big meanie with a bad job and lame friends.
Let’s be honest, we might be trying to repackage how beauty products are sold, but at the end of the day we’re still selling beauty products, so the importance of your looks is going to remain pretty paramount. If anything, we’re just casting a wider net on who gets to be beautiful because it means more people who now get to buy Dove! Happiness isn’t beautiful—beauty is happiness. It’s been that way for you ‘gine-havers for a long time, and we’re not about to change it no matter how many goodwill campaigns we put out, soz! Please buy some conditioners, your beautiful hair is looking less shiny than normal and that will probably impact the way you treat your children when you get home from work.
Yours somewhat sincerely,
PS. If you could keep it between us that our parent company is also responsible for this sort of thing, we’d really appreciate it. Luv urself! 

11 thoughts on “Dove Knows You’re Beautiful. No, Really

  1. Crikey, that’s up there with all their bull about having lovely armpits. Helping women to feel confident by giving us ideas for yet another thing to feel self-conscious about- because you will honestly NEVER achieve anything if your armpits are not ‘silky’ or ‘beautiful’. No really.

  2. what if I WANT to be a minger? What if I am okay with looking totally shit sometimes? DON’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME DOVE. DON’T YOU DARE.

  3. PREACH. Dove has no interest in women finding fulfillment beyond their looks. Their campaigns are condescending and dumb – all the more so for the fact that they think are a fresh and valuable alternative to other beauty product marketing campaigns when their basic message is still on of beauty preceding all over concerns. You are boss for writing this, so many of my friends seem to think that these adverts are a wholly positive thing….

    • I think in the perfect feminist world we’d not care as much about looking beautiful thereby not creating a market for beauty products and therefore, no ads for said beauty products. I do wonder what kind of ads we *would* have then though.

    • Not true! I hate the notion that being a feminist means you’re suddenly not interested in your looks. I wear make up to please myself not society, but at the same time adverts shouldn’t give the impression that beauty is the most important thing in a womans life when it clearly isn’t.

    • Certainly. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re not interested in your looks. I too wear make-up sometimes and I do it to please myself. At the same time, I do wonder where one draws the line. I don’t have any research I can quote about the ingredients used in these products and their impact on the human body as well as the environment but that aside, it seems to me that the beauty industry is based on making women feel bad about themselves and then offering a ‘solution’ to fix that problem. Of the millions of products available, how many really help? Is anyone really going to stop growing old just because they use anti-wrinkle products (high-end or not)? And even if they do (unlikely), why is it such a big deal? Why are women supposed to/feel pressured to look ‘youthful’? Or beautiful? I have a problem with the amount of importance being given to only the looks of a woman (and that too only up to a certain age).

      My point was, when we do live in a feminist world, the emphasis is going to be on empowering people (not just women) to look beyond just physical appearance. I sure hope so at least. At that point, things like make-up and looks in general would be just another thing. You could choose to focus on them, or not. And you wouldn’t have the world telling you you’re less of a woman (or human) for not being interested in your looks. Which is what ads and magazines and keep screaming at us women right now.

      In my head, I’m imagining Beauty in a feminist world to be a bit like Comic Con. It’s there, if you’re interested. There’s a whole community of people just as into it as you are. But no one’s forcing it down your throat.

  4. Point taken, these adverts are narrow minded. Its a point that’s been made here and a million other places. But Dove is a COSMETIC COMPANY. They trade in beauty products. I don’t think its fair to get down on them for taking a more enlightened approach to physical attractiveness than, oh, every single other cosmetic company ever. It would be great if no one felt the need to wear makeup or to define themselves in terms of prettiness (I’m sure you’ve seen Kate Makai’s performance on the subject…) but its not Dove’s job to get us there.

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