It’s Thursday and I am happy to bring you this week’s AI. Today, we are going to talk about advertising and in particular a Dove Soap commercial that has gone viral.
Watch my video for more:
Here is the Dove Soap Commercial called “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” so you can decide for yourself.
My initial impression and why I liked the commercial was that I assumed almost every normal person perceives themselves as uglier than they actually are. Men included. I thought that the commercial did a lovely job of illustrating that universal feeling. Upon initial viewing I didn’t think that all of the women used in the commercial were your average TV beauty standard which was nice- though upon second viewing I had to admit most really were. They were primarily thin and young and white. Still, my first impression was that they seemed identifiable (to me) and sort-of diverse. Although again, upon second glance the key players were primarily white women.
My world-view that probably shaped my initial judgement of the commercial is that I happen to think that there is beauty in (almost) everyone regardless of the ideals set by society- but I have trained myself to look at people that way as it helps me as an artist and as a decent human being. I think a lot of people forget that, or never know how to see that underlying beauty to begin with. It’s not about freckles or weight or wrinkles though we have been absolutely conditioned to think that it is. We are taught from a very young age to be very critical of our looks as women. We are taught to compare ourselves to others. We are taught to be pretty and quiet. We are also taught to compare ourselves to other women and to unattainable “ideals” like Barbie dolls and that’s BS that we can’t help but to internalize and no one is exempt from it. It shapes our views even if someone like me tells herself she is trying NOT to be influenced by it. It’s part of why it’s plausible that women would report that their features were distorted or they would be fixated on the negative aspects of their features. It’s also not considered polite to brag about how great you think you are.
Then there is the question as to how much of the commercial was staged and edited. Who decided what was a beautiful drawing? The producer? The artist? But staged or not, I still liked the (I assume) intended message that others tend to see the good in you and you are more beautiful than you think. It’s a warm and fuzzy idea that will probably sell a lot of soap.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. What is considered attractive is all a mental and social construct. All you have to do is look at art history to see how what was considered the ideals in beauty, fashion and the human form has changed over time as different social ideas were popularized and disseminated to the culture at large. I enjoyed the part of the commercial said, what you see isn’t necessarily what others see and there is more beauty in each of us than we sometimes acknowledge. HOWEVER, as I have mentioned, on a second and third look at the commercial I noticed a WHOLE LOT OF of body shaming sprinkled with agism that we could do much better without. “Fat” is considered negative as is freckles. WTF? Freckles are adorable. Wrinkles are considered “ugly” which only is a shaming point it seems for women. Wrinkles on a man are distinguished. Wrinkles on me should be fixed. I call bullshit.
SO what do YOU think? Was this commercial sending a positive message or was it just another manipulative use of the mental state of women in general and more body shaming? Was the message feel good about yourself cuz you are more beautiful than you know or shut-up and be traditionally good-looking cuz society says so? Was it, hey YOU, you better start convincing yourself that you are beautiful because EVERYONE is judging that beauty and it’s what makes you valuable as a woman and even though you are raised to be humble and not braggy about your good points you just never know when some forensic artist might sit your ass down in a warehouse and start drawing you and so you better describe yourself in a way that is in line with society’s standard of beauty OR you will be shamed for having low self-esteem?! Also? WASH YOURSELF.
Here is a link to Dove’s official page about this advertising campaign complete with the artist’s sketches: http://realbeautysketches.dove.us/
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.