I’ll be the first to admit that at one point in my career, I worked on Dove. And yes, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has received a lot of merit and attention. And yes, the campaign has been helpful in bringing awareness to the media’s role in self-esteem issues. But let’s face it, Dove will never truly be an activist brand fighting at all cost on behalf of women’s self esteem. And for all the money it has and all its good intentions, Dove will never truly be able to get to the heart of the issue because it simply does not get it.
How could it? It plays in the exact same category it alleges to take a stand against. It profits from the same exact women it alleges to advocate. At the end of the day, you cannot dip your heavy marketing hands in and out of an issue as deep and complex as this.
This has always been my criticism of this campaign, even when I was involved in it. There has always been a heavy handed lack of depth, one which makes the people at the core of the campaign think they can take a stand against beauty stereotypes by lifting up what is stereotypically un-beautiful – fat, dark, flat, gray, old.
There is also an almost defensive self-consciousness that misses all the subtleties and nuances that comprise beauty diversity at its best. An inclusive view of beauty recognizes all beauty and does not pit one kind of beauty versus another, in this case it is the beauty stereotype vs. the un-beauty stereotype.
This is because they simply don’t get it. This is because they still somehow believe (as most Anglo entities do) that they have a messianic part to play. I have news for you, Dove. Our self esteem is not yours to save. If you truly want to take a stand, then you need to stop hiding behind marketing and match your rhetoric with actions of consequence.
Stop using photoshop and post-production to airbrush out and correct what your graphic designers deem to be unsightly.
Stop assuming that the stereotypical non-beauty doesn’t own bangin’ underwear.
Stop focusing on imperfection and prying on insecurity, we already know we aren’t perfect. We don’t need your big media dollars barraging us.
Start having real conversations with no other agenda than to understand.
Start celebrating true diversity by opening your minds to a broader understanding of what is beautiful.
The more you pretend you are part of a fight that you aren’t prepared to go the distance with us on, the more we see that all this is marketing. No more, no less.
We see you, Dove. And despite all this, we are rooting for you to do your part in raising children with healthy self-esteem. We are rooting for you to get it, and to get really real.