Tags: bodies, emotion/desire, gender, marketing/brands, media, beauty standards, representation, subtitles/CC, 00 to 05 mins, 06 to 10 mins
Length: 3:01; 6:36
Access: YouTube (clip 1; clip 2)
Summary: For some time now, advertisers have employed a powerful strategy to peddle their wares. They sell men and women on the idea that a woman's value and worth is bound up with her beauty, then, with the aid of lighting, cosmetics, and digital technology, the advertisers construct an ideal beauty standard that is forever out of reach. The media landscape is populated with images of women with flawless skin, perfect postures, and perky busts—a mirage that perpetually lies on the horizon. Dove's "real beauty" campaign claims to address the harm of encouraging women to base their self worth on something which is unattainable by design; yet a critical analysis of the campaign reveals that it is reinforcing the very issue it claims to critique. In one of the campaign's latest videos (there is a short version and a long version), an FBI trained forensic artist sketches a number of women based on their own descriptions of themselves, then the artist sketches the same women based on how others describe them. The finished sketches are hung side by side, and the women subjects examine the difference. Each is shocked to discover that others apparently describe them as more beautiful than they describe themselves. Laura Stampler's article for Business Insider provides a nice summary of all that is wrong with the ad, but it is worth mentioning two of the more common critiques here. First, the video focuses on a small group of women, who are mostly thin, mostly young (the oldest woman is 40), and mostly white (In the six minute clip, people of color are onscreen for less than 10 seconds). Any campaign that seeks to lift the veil on the harm of unrealistic beauty standards would do well to stop perpetuating the practice of excluding fat women, old women, and women of color. Second, while the video is wrapped in a heartwarming message that women are more beautiful than they realize, the deeper message is still that physical beauty can be the basis for true happiness and satisfaction. At about the 5:10 mark, the sketch artist asks one woman, "Do you think you're more beautiful than you say?" She replies, "Yeah," How different the message of the video would be if instead she flipped the script and asked the artist, "Why should my sense of being whole and satisfied hinge so much on my physical appearance in the first place?"
Submitted By: Jeehye Kang
4/7/2014 06:00:31 am
Chemistry and biology-the need for our species to proliferate-hard wires in all us a desire to be beautiful. To ask the question you propose would be far less powerful. The Dove campaign was the most successful viral social media execution to-date. It demonstrates to women and those who love them how unkind they are to themselves. In no way does it convey that physical beauty alone equals happiness.Instead it says stop the negative, inaccurate and unkind way you talk to yourself. You are not alone; other women do exactly what you do, but, you have the power to change that; a first step to altering the unrealistic beauty standard. The Dove Real Beauty campaign is emotional, powerful and on-target. A campaign that asks me to question why beauty is such a big deal to me would be a real Debbie Downer don't you think?
4/20/2014 03:51:11 am
Julie - But you're taking for granted that what people regard as beautiful is stable. The widely accepted ideas about what constitutes beauty have changed over the years, and they vary across the globe. No entity has been more influential in setting the terms of what is considered beautiful than corporate media. Advertisers construct unattainable standards of beauty, then, once you're anxious about not measuring up, they offer to sell you the solutions to your anxiety. Whatever good the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign claims to do, it is NOT surrendering its role in telling women that there is a particular kind of beauty they should strive to obtain. Problematic messages wrapped in inspirational music are still problematic, and "Debbie Downer" messages are sometimes true.
4/20/2014 03:51:59 am
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