Friday, April 19, 2013


So a lot of my friends are sharing this Dove ad. You know, the one with the forensics artist? He draws women how they see themselves and the whole thing is suppose to teach us that we are more beautiful than we think we are and boost our confidence and self-worth.

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

This whole campaign is perpetuating the lie that a woman's worth is in her appearance. Dove is saying that women must strive to be beautiful because it is through beauty that we attain strength and power. And when they celebrate "all women," they only show conventionally attractive, predominately pale, thin to moderately thin women in their ads. Thus perpetuating very narrow standards of beauty.

Another huge problem I have with Dove is their parent company Unilever which owns Axe. Don't get me started on the recent Axe Apollo commercials (women portrayed as overly sexualized, ultimately fickle damsels in distress). Dove and Axe are sibling companies, both with campaigns designed to appeal to opposite sexes, both sexist in their own ways.

Have you seen these commercials? What was your initial response?

Dove/Axe 1/Axe2


  1. I DO like that dove ad. I think it was sweet, and the women in it were not beautiful models but just regular women.....and in the Axe ads they weren't over sexualizing the women in either, in my opinion. the girls weren't fickle. the astronaut seemed to be their long lost love who had been out in space...sigh. You think everything is sexist, Lily. I don't get it.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Emma. In my post I pointed out that the women in the video are "conventionally attractive, predominately pale, thin to moderately thin women," which moght seem normal if you have a limited amount of exposure, but is certainly not the majority. Dove is not here to represent all women. Dove is here to sell soap. As for the astronaut, did you see the follow-up commercial?

  2. I'm not so interested in Dove's definition of beauty. I generally, as a rule, don't let multi-million dollar corporations define anything for me. I shared the video as an example of the penetrating affects of shame. People tie their self worth to their physical appearance, and as a result, have distorted views of reality.

    True, Dove is not helping to define beauty properly, but Dove aside, the women in the video are the people of interest. Their experience of shame is having a serious affect on every aspect of their life, not just self esteem, or whether or not they think they are beautiful. As someone who has been the victim of shaming and still struggles with shame, it was a video that can and should be used as a stepping stone to an important conversation about not letting others define who we are.

    So in sense, I agree with you. And find it kind of ironic that Dove, who doesn't help women with their sense of beauty, would produce a video about how women don't have a proper sense of beauty.

    1. I really appreciate you thoughtfulness and compassion. Despite my criticism of the ad, I can totally see your point. But I think those women were actresses.

  3. I just watched it for the first time. I'd like to preface my comment by saying that I don't get overly offended and obsessive about depiction of women in the media because's exhausting and there are other ways to create awareness, empower women, etc., than by pointing out and bringing attention to these kinds of portrayals. However, I do agree with you.

    1. Dove sells soap and deodorant, not psychological therapy for anorexic and depressed women.

    2. Women are not fragile, self-doubting, negative talking bags of insecurities. I don't need someone else to tell me I look good. Dove is suggesting that women do.

    It's a cute idea for a commercial, just for the wrong audience and product. My main concern is not the portrayal of women in the media, but the fact that a lot of women don't notice ( I don't mean get angry and throw a fit, but just critically notice) how it's 'wrong' to be portrayed that way.

  4. I shared it via bitch magazine without prefacing that the article was really what I was sharing, which I think became problematic because people didn't read the article they just watched the ad. This article discussed the ad being problematic not because of the lack of diversity, not just the sexist undertones.

    One of the first things I noticed was that most of the women were tall, white, and thin. In fact, I don't think there were any over weight women in this video at all. Or women with unconventional features. I've always been hyper aware of the lack of representation those things have in media. It would have been a much more powerful commercial if it featured a myriad of ethnicities and body types that are not normally featured in ads. If it had done this, instead of perpetuating this tired mirage of beauty, then the commercial might not have been so off the mark. It's okay to be beautiful, to feel beautiful, but it is not okay to equate women's value with beauty and define a standard of beauty by misrepresenting so many different women as the media is doing. And really, who would it have hurt to put a man in there or two?

    That being said, it was nice to see some POC and some women that are typically older than what other commercials would have chosen. It was moving to see women react to the end photo in such a way, which really just drives the point about the media and beauty home. These women shouldn't have to have other people tell them they are beautiful, and in an ideal world we wouldn't need them to. But unfortunately, the media and consequently our society weighs so much of who we are on what we look like and how we compare to the media's standard that not every woman can feel empowered and beautiful so easily.

    I think that for many women, especially ones that have been affected negatively by the media for any period of time, opening discussion on the topic is the corner stone of empowerment. These discussions allow us to find ways of resistance, whether it's by blogging, creating art or stories, changing the way we talk or act about other women, changing what kinds of things we share on social media, or empowering us to face it all with our head held high. It also allows us to say, "Well, I'm not going to buy dove soap because I don't agree with the message. Besides all of those chemicals are totally bad for your skin anyway."

    And slightly off topic, but dove also did this commercial. So they have been on the beauty revolution wagon before.