Dove has a new gimmick in their “real beauty” ad campaign: Hiring a sketch artist to draw a woman as she describes herself, then as she’s described by a random stranger. “We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite right,” says one of the women involved. “We should spend more time appreciating the things that we do like.”
We’ve written before about Dove’s campaign. On the one hand, it’s ironic that a beauty products company is marketing its wares by telling women they should be less concerned about how they look (plus, some parts of your body—like armpits—don’t really need to be pretty). On the other hand, if a company wants to spend their marketing budget spreading simple messages about loving your body as it is, go for it! I’m not going to stop you.
Assuming the current sketch artist experiment isn’t faked, the results are interesting. The women in the video are much more hard on themselves and critical of their appearance than the strangers.
Here are some of the results and Dove’s video of the experiment:
It’s worth noting that all the women in the project are traditionally attractive—they’re all thin and good-looking. Though there is age diversity among the participants, all of them are very conventional looking.
Let’s look at which descriptors the editors chose to include. When the participants described themselves, these were some of the things that were implied asnegatives: fat, rounder face, freckles, fatter, 40— starting to get crows feet, moles, scars… Whereas some of the implied positive descriptors used by others were: thin face, nice thin chin, nice eyes that lit up when she spoke and were very expressive (my actual favorite), short and cute nose, her face was fairly thin (this was said twice), and very nice blue eyes. So… I don’t know if anyone else is picking up on this, but it kinda seems to be enforcing our very narrow cultural perception of “beauty”: young, light-skinned, thin. No real diversity celebrated in race, age, or body shape. So you’re beautiful… if you’re thin, don’t have noticeable wrinkles or scars, and have blue eyes. If you’re fat or old… uh, maybe other people don’t think you look as fat and old as you do yourself? Great? Oh, and by the way, there are real women who look like the women on the left. What are you saying about them, exactly?
It’s nice that there’s no direct pitch at the end of the video, just the tagline, “You are more beautiful than you think.” That’s a quality message whether or not it leads you to buying more soap and skin lotion. The hearts of conventionally beautiful women can grow a little warmer today.