Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Real Deal on "Real Beauty".... And Where to Actually Find It


We've probably all seen it by now, Dove's "Real Beauty" video, which means to show that we're much more beautiful than we give ourselves credit for.

And I think that is really, truly refreshing and wonderful.

It's also kind of manipulative.

You know Dove is owned by Unilever, right?  And Unilever owns AXE, which features ads that are unabashedly objectifying.  And Unilever owns SlimFast--and acquired Ben and Jerry's on the same day.  So while there are undoubtedly people behind the "Real Beauty" campaign that believe in what they're doing--Unilever has no trouble with doublethink.

The "Real Beauty" campaign is more than just this video, however.

I first saw the above photo in a Dove ad in Glamor magazine a couple of months ago.  Isn't it wonderful, how it shows bumps and curves and even some aging?

It's photoshopped.  Per The Illusionists:

Well, in a New Yorker profile of photo retoucher Pascal Dangin (in the May 12th 2008 issue), reporter Lauren Collins questioned him about the Dove campaigns:
I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual “real women” in their undergarments. It turned out that it was a Dangin job. “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” he asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.
So, while this campaign is raising great awareness and discussion, I believe we deserve something a little more honest yet.

Jodi Bieber has put together a slideshow of un-retouched women, and you know what?  They are pretty damn beautiful.

Lindsay and Lexie Kite have a site called Beauty Redefined, where they teach healthy, realistic concepts of beauty--and most importantly, that we can be more than just beautiful. 

Or did you read about the Sikh woman with facial hair whose faith and empathy actually changed the mind of the Redditor who posted her photo to mock her--enough that poster apologized?

And here's the best place to find Real Beauty:  in the people around you.  Do the women around you, the women you love, look like the women in magazines and on TV?  Probably not.  But these are the women that are loving/laughing/living in harsh light, with no photoshop, no clever stretched camera lenses to make them look taller and thinner.  They might not always look their best.  And there isn't any damn thing better.

(True:  I need you to tell me what you think.  Do you love the Dove ad?  Does it's flip side weird you out?  What do you think of your body, and the bodies of the women around you?  The best thing that the ad has done is spark discussion.  Let's keep it going.)


  1. I have seen the Dove ad and I really thought it was interesting, although I do think the artist took some liberties and made the women more "beautiful" based on the other person's description than in their own. And I did not know that Dove is owned by Unilever, which does make the whole thing feel pretty hypocritical to me and creepy to me. I also looked at the slideshow you linked to of real unretouched women, and you know what? They are beautiful! But one thing I noticed is that a lot of them look very uncomfortable (which I would be too, if I was posing in my underpants) or even sad. The ones that looked comfortable and happy and owned their body in their underpants no matter what size or shape or colour or whatever they were were the ones that looked best to me. I really try my best not to use any negative language about my body in my house, although I could definitely lose a few pounds and get into better shape, because I don't want my daughter to be exposed to that. She will get enough out in the world, I don't want her to hear me getting down on myself, even though it is hard sometimes not to. One of the beautiful ladies I share a blog withjust did a post on a similar topic, I'd love for you to check it out! Sorry for the super long comment. This is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately, and it's exciting to me to know that other women are having the same thoughts and discussions. It gives me hope that we can make a change in what we consider beautiful!

    1. I noticed some of the models looked uncomfortable as well, but when I got to thinking about it, I decided it really doesn't bother me. Most models, like in magazine ads, have these "come-hither-SEXSEXSEX" expressions while they're in pretty racy poses. So the models sort of stop being individual people, and start being the personification of SEXSELLS. Pretty much the definition of objectification, in my book. But the fact that the women in the slide show do look a bit uncomfortable sometimes seems very natural to me. I'd be a bit nervous in my underoos in front of a stranger, too. These women are not magazine models, and their personalities do show through the photos--and sometimes, people do feel awkward and uncomfortable. I think those women are all the braver for it.