Sunday, April 21, 2013


I feel the need to exorcise my feelings on the recent Dove sketch campaign that has been floating around the internet.  And since I don't want to get into an endless comment string on facebook, I just need to work out my thoughts in my little corner of the web... which - let's face it - is really pretty private for a "public" space.

Anyway, I posted this link on my facebook page, because when I watched it, the message hit home for me.  I have a very problematic relationship with my perception of my body, and it was a reminder that I can choose how to see myself.  It remains an uphill battle for me, but it was nice.

Of course, then come the backlash posts, proclaiming that this experiment that touts itself as so great and understanding is superficial and sexist because it's suggesting that beauty is the only way in which women value themselves.

So here's my response:

I do agree that the campaign is problematic... but we have to remember that - for whatever else it is - it is a campaign marketing beauty products.  It's not a social movement to eradicate make-up or whatever.  Dove is marketing a product that deals directly with our physical appearance and our perception thereof.  So being angry at them for focusing on beauty is silly.  Their cream is something you put on your face, not your brain or your soul.  They can't help you there.  Their products are designed to make you feel better about your appearance.  They are not designed to make you a better person.  Bare Minerals did a campaign a few years ago where they chose a bunch of "real people" to be their models, supposedly based only on their resume of awesome person-ness... yet somehow they were all still smokin' hot (My favorite was the porcelain-skinned, willowy, ginger, volunteer fire fighter).  I do wish that our society as a whole put more value in things that weren't appearance related, but I think we sometimes lose sight of the pragmatic fact that it's a message geared toward a specific marketing end, and if we expect a commercial - however well-intentioned or whatever the scope - to be more than a commercial, we're bound to be disappointed. So if they go beyond saying "buy our stuff" to saying "stop being so hard on yourself, you're pretty great, and also buy our stuff," then hey... let 'em.  At least the women in the ad aren't soulless stick figures with blowing wind and abrasively cheerful pseudo-runway music.  And at the end of the day, they still have to sell their stuff.  And if it makes a few people feel good about themselves or even just makes one lone blogger pause the next time she looks in the mirror before shifting into self-criticism mode... bonus.  So is it a perfect campaign?  Of course not.  But I don't think Dove is saying "beauty is the only value," I think they're just saying that beauty is their realm... and the message they're putting out about that particular realm is more positive than most.