What's wrong with real beauty?
You've surely noticed those Dove advertisements all over town and in magazines featuring "real" women (read: not models) in their underwear. I was fortunate enough to go on a press trip last year (one of the famous "private jet" trips) when Dove unveiled their Campaign for Real Beauty. Clever corporate marketing or not, it's a powerful message and all of the editors were moved by the campaign. After the presentations were finished, there wasn't a dry eye in the room; who can't relate to not feeling skinny, sexy or pretty enough? That's why I'm surprised and kind of annoyed by some of the reactions I've heard to the ads: making fun of the big thighs, bemoaning the lack of blonds, wondering who would actually find those women pretty. I guess we've become so celebrity obsessed—and seduced by airbrushing—that we think if it doesn't look like Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson or Gisele Bundchen, it can't possibly be sexy.
This month's Glamour magazine has an interesting article with Aisha Tyler called "I don't want to be perfect!" where Aisha agrees to be photographed, then to have photos of the "real" Aisha and the airbrushed Aisha placed side-by-side. Real Aisha is pretty, but airbrushed Aisha is glowy, taut, sleek and perfect. Of course, she doesn't actually exist—but she sure is gorgeous, huh?
I think the problem with all of these ads and messages is that you have to be in the right mood and mindframe to accept them. If you're at the gym working up a sweat on the elliptical and come across the Nike ads celebrating big butts and scraped knees and strong legs, you might think "Hell, yeah! I'm strong like that! Hear me roar!" and kick up the speed. But if you're on your way to a club, primped, powdered, lipglossed, coiffed and dolled up to look as sexy as possible, you might pass by one of the Dove billboards and think "Thank God I'm skinnier than those women," and feel really pleased with yourself. (I'm guilty on that front, I'll admit it.) I guess the challenge is to get to a place where everybody sees celebrities as too skinny (because, let's be real, 95% of them are walking eating disorders) and can appreciate real women (what does that term even mean anymore?) in all of their, uh, real woman-ness.