Last month we talked about Dove Cosmetics’ “Campaign for Real Beauty”, which got lots of attention both here and around the blogosphere and the world of news. Now that campaign is receding into obscurity, Nike has begun an astonishing campaign called “What Story Does Your Body Tell?”, very interestingly discussed in Salon, by Rebecca Traister.
Dove used a very different group of women on their website than in their ads. Nike uses the same women on its site and in its ads. Fascinatingly, the women are actually all hard-bodied, young, and very muscular. Each one is discussing a particular body part (shoulders, hips, thighs, knees, legs, and but) and each one is photographed to exaggerate the size of whichever body part is in question. You have to go to the website to realize that Ms. Thighs actually doesn’t have “thunder thighs” by any standards other than that of the advertising industry and those who’ve bought its line, or that Ms. Butt actually has a hard, muscular butt rather than the giant one in the ad.
So the ads are actually far less “flattering” than the whole women. And the unflattering pictures are accompanied by personal narrative that discusses how women feel about their butts, legs, shoulders, etc. And unlike the Dove ads, the campaign shows body parts only; you have to go to the website to see whole women.
So, once again, we’re pondering. How does this campaign compare with the Dove campaign? Are we on the brink of a real new trend featuring real women’s bodies? Is advertising coming to terms with something different than the air-brushed size 2 model? And what does that mean in terms of body image, and body acceptance?