Best of 2009: Real Beauty

Today: What advertisement made you think this year?

I know it’s not new this year, but I continue to be awed and moved by Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. The top video is the one I know best, and every time I see it I find myself almost breathless with a combination of anger and panic. I feel angry and also sad about all of the hours and energy that I and many wonderful women I know have wasted worrying about what we look like and whether we fit into the impossible mold that society presents us. I feel panicked about how to arm my seven year old daughter to go out into this world’s relentless onslaught, how best to shore up her own self-esteem so that she is rocked as little as possible by these influences.

I think it is tremendously brave of a big beauty company to advertise in this way. With the caveat that I don’t really know very much about Dove (though their parent, Unilever, was many years ago a client of mine) my impression is that this is precisely the combination of doing good and doing well that I more passionately wish more of the business world would aim for. This company seems to be using their brand and their clout to speak out against the norm, to stand in the torrent and face the other way. I admire this tremendously.

Dove makes a powerful statement by showing women, young and old – though I imagine it is with the young that this may have the most germane impact – images of beauty in which they can see themselves. They throw open the definition of beauty and challenge the viewer to think more expansively about what it means. They seek to illuminate the societal cues about attractiveness that many of us have internalized for what they are: merely a single, narrow view on what is really a much more polymorphous and complex issue. Bravo, Dove.

8 thoughts on “Best of 2009: Real Beauty”

  1. yes. yes. this is so big for me, i hardly know where to start. you were much more eloquent than i because my words and thoughts kept tumbling all over each other like puppies in a box wanting to get out. to think that i weighed 98 pounds and saw a blimp when i looked in the mirror. to think i felt awkward and embarrassed about the me below my neck. we didn’t just pick this stuff up on our own, out of thin air. yes, i, too, say bravo, dove. bravo.

  2. I dare say a much larger percentage of women in this country struggle with their sense of beauty, their self-esteem invested in their appearance, and a love-hate relationship with their appearance than those who do not.

    Personally, I have never met an American woman who did not feel physically unacceptable in some respect. Bravo to Dove. And to you, for reminding us to teach our daughters and sons what is truly beautiful. And to recognize those companies and brands that can – as you say – do good and do well.

  3. Lindsey,
    Thank you for so eloquently sharing about Dove and their campaign. I have been sitting with this #best09 prompt for over a day now, and have become somewhat discouraged by what I have seen this year. You have reminded me, here, that there are good works being done in this arena. As a mother of two grown daughters, I completely ‘get’ your panic; but, seeing you light up the world with your strong, wise presence, I have a sense you will teach her well.

  4. This campaign is one of the few ad campaigns that I have truly enjoyed. I even follow the Dove Self-Esteem Fund on facebook.

    Thanks for posting this. Also, as a mother of a daughter, I highly recommend “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls” by Mary Pipher.

  5. Just beautiful. Touching. Brilliant. These ads make a case for unmuting the commercials I usually can’t stand to listen to. At least, the Dove commercials.

  6. You’re spot on about this. My only wonder is that Dove has probably, ironically, used Barbie-like airbrushed models in past years/decades to model to women, too.
    But maybe (hopefully, from these vid clips) they’ve had a change of heart.

    I like their point, “Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does.” I have & I will again.

    My daughters do not like Barbies, probably b/c since their babyhood I’ve explained they are fake, dumb, and impossibly porportioned.

    I’m also the mama who turns over the fashion mags in the grocery store b/c all the lipo & fake cleavage & air brushing give me a headache. Seriously!

    Let’s hope the rising generation of kids will “get” that beauty is what’s on the inside, not some impossible outer “thing.”

Comments are closed.