Opinion Poll

Dove Cosmetics has launched a ““Campaign for Real Beauty”. Both of us are trying to figure out what we think and how we feel about this campaign. Apparently, Dove has been working for a couple of years at finding out how women feel about their bodies, and taking their cue from their customers’ responses. Now, the San Francisco BART is papered in ads for a cream that will firm your thighs, illustrated with a picture of six scantily-clad women of various races, some of them definitely fatter than women one generally sees in ads. The photographs have far more reality than you ever see in advertisements, although they are still somewhat manipulated.

On the site, you find no ads. Instead, you find a series of polls showing individual women different characteristics generally lumped as unattractive: fat, wrinkles, small breasts, etc. You are asked to vote: “is she gray or gorgeous? is she wrinkled or wonderful?. Small insets talk about other Dove initiatives, including a fund for self-esteem for girls.

We’re taking a poll based on their poll: is Dove doing good here, or are they making a profit by selling beauty products in the name of “real beauty”? What do you think? Help us figure this out.

13 thoughts on “Opinion Poll

  1. Hum, well I don’t think firms spend large sums on these sorts of campaigns unless they are trying to get people to buy or think favorably of their product.

    That said, it’s less damaging to sell an idea of beauty through a bar of soap than an image of a woman skinnier than 99.999% of the rest of humankind. But it’s advertising nonetheless.

    I’m a fan of Doctor Bronner’s peppermint castile soap, myself.

  2. I like that Dove is using models from a broader spectrum than normal. They certainly aren’t models one would see in a catalog for BBW clothing or such, but it’s a step. The thing I don’t like is their poll. The choices they present seem to ask the respondents to reclassify their thinking rather than change their thinkings. “Grey or gorgeous?” Why not both? There’s nothing inherently wrong with grey hair, or wrinkles or any of the other “flaws” they highlight in their poll. By even collecting responses to the “negative” they open themselves up to being spammed by false respondents. Imagine the blow to a woman who thinks of herself as flawed because she has one of the characteristics polled on and, upon tentatively choosing the “positive” choice, sees the results showing a majority think the model has the “negative” choice.

  3. So annoying that you can’t choose “wrinkled AND wonderful” etc. — the very text of their ad campaign underscores the beauty standards they profess to be fighting. If you choose “gorgeous” are you supposed to be pretending she’s not “gray”?

  4. If you’re going to define “doing good” as “not making a profit”, you can stop ever expecting corporations to do anything good; and while that suits the hippie anarchist mindset nicely, it makes it hard for us to talk about the differences between, say, Dove & Shell Oil. I assume that Dove isn’t doing this as a pro bono effort to raise the self-esteem levels of women at large, they’re doing it because they want to sell expensive lotion. So what? Bebe doesn’t run their advertising campaign as a pro bono effort to glamorize heroin, abuse of women, and anorexia, but we get the side effects for free anyway. What’s wrong with better side effects?

  5. It kind of annoys me that they’re using average-looking models and a campaign centered around “real beauty”…

    …to sell a “firming” cream.

    There’s clearly a mixed message there. They might be widening the range of acceptable, but not enough to encompass *my* ass, that’s for sure.

  6. Meh. Deconstruct the question. “is Dove doing good here, or are they making a profit by selling beauty products in the name of “real beauty”?” is, I think, a binary-opposition question precisely as meaingful as “wrinkled or wonderful?” – that is, the question is only meaningful if you accept in advance that the two terms are binarily opposed, in an either/or way that excludes all other possibilities — possibilities like “wrinkled and wonderful,” or “Dove is attempting to do well by doing good.”

    There is obviously a profit-motive involved (they aren’t in business to lose money), but it is possible — though I do not assume it true — that Dove is attempting to harness profit-motive to benefice.

    Without having seen the ads, I can’t say much more.

  7. I don’t understand how Dove can present images of “real women” as some sort of “campaign for real beauty” and then suggest in the same breath that there is something about those women that needs “fixing” – with the help of their firming cream and other beauty products. Not cool as far as I am concerned. I don’t like it.

    Smells fishy.

  8. I liked the picture of the three women in the ad I saw, but the entire concept of a “firming cream” is both ridiculous (they don’t work, people!) and offensive.

  9. I think Lara pointed out the paradox of the whole campaign…….if the “real women” are beautiful as is then they have no need for Dove’s firming cream, or many other Dove products. So unless Dove wants to stick to only selling soap (we do all get dirty after all) then they (and their profit margin) have a vested interest in feeding female insecurity.

  10. I think its contradiction. True beauty is natural beauty. No creams, soaps, make up or surgeries make a woman “beautiful”. Only the inner light she has, the acceptence of herself, and the love she gives can make her a “natural” true beauty.

    Pushing products to change the gray hair to brunette, or firming creme’ to tighten wrinkles are not natural. I personally await each coming year of my life.
    I will be accepting of each gray hair.
    I will be content with each wrinkle.
    The are a mapping, or landmarking, of each year and event in my life.

    We as women should learn to acknowledge who we are, and accept it with harmony.

  11. You can’t do good while simultaneously doing evil, even if you have good intentions.

    This type of compromise, manipulating humans to accept messages of the media mouthpiece as to what beauty is, while projecting an image of changing social landscapes, is evil. Possibly well intentioned, but evil in its misleading of the viewer.

    It’s like lifting a veil to reveal a painted mask.

  12. On the back page of the “Life” section in our local newspaper on the week end of Feb 18 was a picture of a naked woman advertising Dove Pro-Age. I take care of my body by exercising, eating properly, etc. I certainly would not depend on your advertisement. It is going in my trash can; it doesn’t derserve recycling.
    The ad was offensive and in very poor taste. I detest what advertisers are doing today by subtlely entering more and more nudity into everyday people’s lives. If I want to see a woman’s body, I can look in the mirror. I am a regular user of Dove products and have been for many, many years. However, I will not buy any Dove products until the nudity (nevermind that her arms and legs cover her privates-it is still offensive) is completely taken out of advertising of your products. You have lost a loyal customer.

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.