Beautiful or Average? We Pick Door #3!

Laurie and Debbie say:

What’s wrong with these options? Liz Dwyer, writing at Take Part, discusses “Choose Beautiful,” a commercialized “positive body image campaign” from Dove, in which “women participating in a social experiment suddenly had to decide whether they’d walk through a shopping center entrance labeled ‘Beautiful’ or one labeled ‘Average.’

Dove has been on the commercialized, dishonest “positive body image” trail since 2005, and we have been right there calling them out for just as long. This campaign, however, sets a new, even lower, bar.

The basic assumption of the campaign is that women with a positive body image will walk through the “beautiful” door, and there is something wrong with women who choose the “average” door.

If a woman didn’t want to label herself as beautiful, according to the ad, she might have low self-esteem. Indeed, in the clip we see and hear some of the women explaining their decision. … Causing a woman to doubt herself doesn’t exactly seem empowering. Yet plenty of women are applauding Dove for the feel-good-about-yourself-no-matter-what tone of the ad. There are comments across social media that the clip had people in tears. Meanwhile, other women see this latest campaign from the company as a driver of poor self-esteem.

Of course there is value in encouraging women (people!) to feel beautiful. However, there are so many ways to love your body without identifying as beautiful. Our favorite is, “I’m just fine, thank you!”


Maybe I’m “striking.” Maybe I’m “fascinating.” Maybe I’m not the least bit conventionally attractive, but the people who know me well can’t take their eyes off me and I like what I see in the mirror. Maybe I’m beautiful in some way that isn’t generally recognized.


Maybe I’m in some category (old, disabled, disfigured) that automatically exempts me from “beautiful.” Maybe I have some feature or characteristic that is generally considered to be not beautiful but I’ve learned to use it creatively and turned it into a form of beauty. Maybe I’m considered beautiful in my country and not in yours.

Maybe, although Dove would be terrified to hear it, I don’t give a rat’s ass how I look. Maybe I’m beautiful in some contexts and some styles, but not in others. Maybe I’m actually “average,” even though Laurie and I don’t know what that means.

Most important, maybe I’m just fine the way I am and I don’t care about your damned door labels, or your dollar-driven social engineering.

And let’s not forget who’s doing the social engineering. Remembering that one of the five cities where this experiment was tried is Delhi,

Dove’s parent company, Unilever, has a long history of wanting some women to feel downright unattractive in order to move its products. In India, Unilever makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year selling bleaching creams for skin under the brand name Fair & Lovely. The brand’s notorious advertisements have long depicted darker-skinned women whose lives are miserable—they only get jobs or dates after they’ve whitened their faces with the product. 

So which door should these women with darker skin walk through? How about after they use bleaching creams? What would happen to Unilever’s products if they were “just fine, thank you.”

What would make more women feel beautiful, or just fine, thank you? Stop pouring billions of dollars into trying to make us worry about which door we should walk through. That would be a just fine start, thank you.