What Real Women Think About Dove's Real Beauty Sketches

Real Beauty Sketches from John X. Carey on Vimeo.

Dove's latest advertisement has been floating around social media as of late. While I understand the jubilant reactions from women I couldn't help but feel something was a bit "off". The first thing that came to my mind was, "This is just another marketing tactic so people feel more positively about the Dove brand." As poignant as the ad seems this is precisely what marketing and advertising is all about  swaying consumer judgement about the brand and its products and ultimately affecting consumer behaviour. 

Yes, it's a well-produced ad but all I'm getting from it is: What you look like is important and it will always be important no matter what age you are.

Brave, strong, smart? Not enough. You have to be beautiful. And “beautiful” means something very specific, and very physical. Essentially every movie and tv show and commercial shows us that, right? It doesn’t matter what other merits a woman posses, if she is not conventionally attractive, she is essentially worthless (go watch Miss Representation for more thoughts on this). And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is. It doesn’t really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is, and it doesn’t really tell us that fitting inside that definition isn’t the most important thing. It doesn’t really push back against the constant objectification of women. All it’s really saying is that you’re actually not quite as far off from the narrow definition as you might think that you are (if you look like the featured women, I guess)
{source: Why Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” Video Makes Me Uncomfortable… and Kind of Makes Me Angry, little drops}

I liked that the writer touched on the issue of the objectification of women because let's face it, we live a visual-saturated world which conditions us to believe in certain definitions of attractiveness, ugliness, normal, abnormal, and so on. The portrayal of hyper-femininity and hyper-masculinity in the media is a big problem. If we think we don't fit the standard and look acceptable in other people's eyes it affects the way we feel about ourselves. You have to read the full write-up, by the way. It's really good.

The first problem, clearly, is that the artist knew the intent of the project (and no doubt was being paid handsomely by Dove). That’s strike one. What’s more, in every case he knew whose face he was drawing, be it “I” or “she”. That’s strike two. Strike three is that the artist couldn’t help but be influenced by the varying tones used to convey, on the one hand, mild self-criticism and, on the other, a warm admiration for others’ features. 
{source: Cool Ad Watch, The Dish} 

I didn't think of that! We don't know this for sure but it's possible because Dove aimed to create a specific outcome for the ad. See this is why I love the Internet :) I hope the week has been good to you so far. It's almost Friday. Can you believe it? Check in with you guys soon, God willing.

p.s. Don't be offended by the title of this post. Its purpose is to illustrate that the idea of "real beauty" and "real women" is ridiculous. Who is to say what constitutes as "real" beauty and what doesn't? Unless we're talking about plastic surgery... let's save that topic for another day, shall we?


husna said…
ppl r overthinking..
u too hehe..of course real beauty comes frm within, good akhlak etc
but i think what the ad is trying to highlight, of which i admit is true is that women think to think that theyre unpretty, with physical flaws, keep complaining my eyes are too small my cheeks are too labuh..so yea...its quite evident kan..hehe
Mona Zenhom said…
All good points. I was thinking the same when I watched that as well.
Naqya Kamsan said…
Salam Sha.

When I watch the video, I was thinking of my art classes in secondary school back then where I studied toning and shadings can illustrate expressions of the person drawn. The artist in the clip can choose to do his own toning and shading to define the drawn person's expression. Although I kind of agree majority of women do feel insecure about their looks but upon comparing the two different sketches that differs much on shadings and toning, I could see the purpose of the project going wrong a little since he knew it (reiterating from your point!). Would love to read a post on real beauty of your view!

Much love
Laila said…
I'm going to be honest, at first I did like the ad, in fact I liked how it somehow showed us that we see us in a way while ppl see us in another. But then I read what you wrote and realize it's true, this ad was made to make women feel emotional, to make them identify with the womens in the ad and at the end buy the brand.

Marketing works like this, this is how brands earn money.