Wednesday, August 17, 2005

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.


Blogger Jenn said...

As Johnny Duetsch so aptly put on the Today Show this morning, those women in the Dove ads are STILL not an accurate depiction of the average woman.
Are they a bit larger? Yes. Do they have more curves? Yes. But they still do NOT depict the average woman. The Dove ads are so self serving to the advertising and beauty industry. "Look what we did!!" We put curvier, larger women in a national ad campaign!" So what? The product by Dove is for firming cream--so what, exactly, does that say about these "average" women? Give me a break. Until women consumers stop idealizing what they want and think they should look like, the advertising companies will continue to give them what they want. That's the thing--everyone blames the ad companies for shoving down our throats what they think we should look like. It's more likely the other way around--until women are fulfilled enough to accept what they look like--whether it's more like Paris Hilton or Mrs. Doubtfire, they will likely serve us what we want. This is no more evident then by your own example of being all dolled-up for a night of clubbing whereas we pass a Dove billboard 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.) What???? Is that what it takes to feel fulfilled for a confident night out on the town? That is a very sad commentary on what is wrong with society today.

8/17/2005 2:25 PM  
Blogger UnBelEsprit said...

I have to agree with you 100%. I used to spend hours every night working out, walking, using my elliptical and ab-lounge, only because I want ot look like all of the celebrities on tv. Why? Because it is so ingrained in my that my 5'4", 118 pound frame is not perfect. Now I still do all of those things, but for a different reason. It makes me feel good, healthy. Not skinny. It's all the difference in the world.

8/17/2005 2:27 PM  
Blogger cutiepiebunny said...

When I look at these celebs they are UGLY, no boobs, no form, no butt, just skinny and ugly looking. The only one that is worth a damn in the body department is Halle Berry, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez all non-white women which is interesting. People need to get it together, Nadine people looking "worse" than you shouldn't make you feel better about yourself. And what Nike ad celebrates big butts??? Like what are you talking about? Some dumb actress with no boobs and ass and her face looking all void of any nutrients doesn't ever make me want to eat less.

8/17/2005 3:09 PM  
Blogger Opinionista said...

I was shocked by the negative media response to the campaign - the fact that simply putting women larger than size 2 on a billboard can spark such massive controversy is a testament to the fact that the media has propogated this image of "pretty" women as applying only to early twentysomethings with bodies like 12-year-old boys. I read one article that chided Dove for the campaign, stating "now Dove will become the brand for fat girls!" That's a pretty horrific attitude.

8/17/2005 6:36 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I know plently of men here in NYC who have a thing for those Dove ads. Especially the two women on the right hand side.

8/17/2005 7:05 PM  
Blogger iopine said...

I'm just glad Dove was brave enough to try.

8/17/2005 7:49 PM  
Blogger bobkitten said...

I wonder what we would all say if Dove did an ad campaign using "larger" size males in their underwear instead of the ones we see in magazine ads. Would we have the same attitude? Would we be glad they are using "real man." Just a thought....

8/18/2005 12:49 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

There are good and bad things to say about the Dove campaign. To counter Donny Deutsch & Jenn above, I do think they show women of real size - they are a range of a size 6 to a size 12. Now, I don't know if that is what the real American woman is on average, but we do know that many American women (not sure what the statistic is but probably like 50%) are medically overweight. I don't think it would be responsible for a company to display women who are medically overweight, so given that parameter, they are displaying the real women we should be aspiring or happy to be.

More importantly, I think the problem that many might subconsciously have is that they are celebrating real beauty - implying that you should be happy with who you are - but in the end they are trying to sell cellulite cream. So, they don't want you to feel too good about yourself to not need help from a product. It's a very interesting juxtaposition...

8/18/2005 10:02 AM  
Blogger shimmer said...

meh. My thoughts on this are so mixed it's not even cute. One hand, the ads are bringing forth women who while still not QUITE the most accurate representation of the average american woman, but are the most realistic you're going to get.
In a world of Madonna looking 23 thanks to the magic of photoshop, paintshop, and amazing makeup artists, and paris hilton being airbrushed to actually being...kind of...attractive...if you squint your eyes just right...seeing those women up there is definitely an eyeopener and makes a woman think. "Hey, I'm squishy here and I'm not tanned there...but it's OKAY..."

On the other hand...what's wrong with being thin? Right now, I'm not the weight I want to be, but most would say I look fine. It's not (for ME at least) necessarily about size as it is about healthiness.
I don't like the squishy parts, and once they're firm (due to that 5 am wakeup call from my ever so loving and caring husband...) I'll be happy. Should I lose a few inches in the process...the HELL YEAH I'mma cheer, but I'd rather be HEALTHY and get the benefits that come with it...i.e. being that small size and having the good skin and the nice hair etc.
I don't like the condemnation of the women in the world like me who simply want to bring their bodies to their best, not to please a man.

8/18/2005 10:28 AM  
Blogger Secretary said...

Well, if Dove DID become the brand for fat girls, they would be wildly successful, since America is more and more overweight.

I want to see that 'the real Aisha' spread but I don't subscribe to Glamour...anyone know how I can get a look at that. I just can't wait to see how much difference that airbrushing makes.

The ladies of these Dove ads, above all other things, look HEALTHY. Really, they're not overweight, but they're not underweight, they're just HEALTHY and I'm glad that a company is trying to show HEALTHY women.

8/18/2005 1:32 PM  
Blogger shimmer said...

The aisha spread was really well done. And it's amazing what the tools they can use with the photography now can do for a subject. Check out Mariah Carey's album cover for The Emancipation of Mimi...she got lengthened and skinnied and airbrushed and all KINDS of good stuff.

8/18/2005 10:10 PM  
Blogger curiousblogger said...

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10/26/2005 10:11 PM  

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