“Beauty is a choice”
That is the message of Dove’s new beauty campaign. Simply, you can choose whether or not you want to be beautiful. The ad, which includes a viral video advert and several printed versions, depicts women choosing whether to slot themselves into the ‘average’ category or the ‘beautiful’ category. Unsurprisingly, this is followed by the shocking statistic that a large number of women don’t think they are beautiful. I am shocked. I never would have guessed that, thanks Dove for enlightening us. Take a look at Dove’s groundbreaking statistics if you don’t believe me. You can also see the video itself here.
Dove’s main tactic is to make women believe that they themselves are the sole reason that their insecurities exist. You can change your mind about how beautiful you are just by simply choosing to be beautiful. Nevermind the systematic ways in which hoardes of teenage girls are taught that there is a particular way to be beautiful. Let’s disregard the strategies employed to ensure that women are known for their looks and men for their brains/talent. You need to look no further than The Sun’s Page 3; side by side on the same paper a man will be praised for his achievements whilst a woman is stood topless – her biggest talent. Let’s not even begin to discuss headlines that feature on women’s magazines that scream on Monday that X celebrity is ‘grotesquely fat’ and by Friday she is ‘disgustingly anorexic’. This does not even begin to scratch the surface of the beauty code women are expected to live up to. We must be hairless, stretch-mark free, white and we need to wear make-up but not too much because we must look natural.
Dove’s answer to this is to simply tell us to believe. Believe you are beautiful. Choose to be beautiful. Choose to ignore the constant stream of instructions from the media on how exactly one can be beautiful. Instead of instigating a debate about what it means to say someone is beautiful, or attempt to dismantle the reasons why women feel so goddamn awful about how we look, Dove conveniently reminds us that it’s probably because we’re all just a bit mean to ourselves. If you would like an indepth look at how women are constricted and contorted to fit an ideal image, I’d highly recommend ‘The Beauty Myth’ by Naomi Wolf. Once you begin to understand the indoctrination into beauty ideals, Dove’s campaigns can be likened to trying to put a plaster on someone who has been shot in the head.
It also intrigued me that the women walking through Dove’s self esteem doors generally emulated our ideas about what beautiful women are supposed to look like. They weren’t too curvy or too short or really anything outside of our consciousness of beauty. Show me a someone society considers to be obese, someone who doesn’t shave their legs or someone over the age of 50. Those women are beautiful but Dove’s extra sentimental campaign isn’t going to change our patriarchal society’s markers of beauty.
You can choose to be beautiful, if you play by the rules. It’s worth noting as well that Dove’s parent company – Unilever- also own a number of companies that directly contradict Dove’s heart warming (or vomit inducing) campaigns. Axe and Slim-Fast are just two of Unilever’s companies. So before you paint Dove with the equality-and-beauty-for-all brush, remember that they are part of an operation which demands that women be skinny and fall at men’s feet.
Really though, Dove’s entire approach to selling products is ultimately banal anyway. If we all actually stood up one day and believed the Dove message then we would have no need to buy Dove products. If I am beautiful the way I am then why do I need to purchase anything from you. We’d all like to believe different but the truth is that multinational co-operations do not care about your feelings, they just want your money. Welcome to capitalism 101.
So the next time you’re out buying beauty products, either for yourself or because you feel like you should be, remember that Dove wants to place the fault for your self esteem issues onto you. If only you could choose to see yourself as beautiful. It’s that easy ladies.
*also, should we really be placing someones worth entirely on their physicality anyway? Beauty can come from within, y’know
(this post was also published on Feministing, you can find it here!