“Woke” is a colloquial term that signify that one is “aware of social justice issues. Dove is a master at this. They have multitudes of ads under their massive conceptual “real beauty” campaign that has been going on for over a decade.
The irony in that they feel cellulite cream isn’t lost on many, though. That frizzy hair is something to be tamed. Or that their parent company happens to be a contributor to many ad campaigns that objectify women, which is in direct contrast to the goals of Dove’s ad campaigns.
Does dove the company itself objectify women by selling an array of products that seem to contradict their mission? Could it be possible that below a facade of goodwill there might be an undercurrent of exploitation?
Although their campaigns have been widely acclaimed and praised, there have been missteps made by the company. For example, they released 6 bottles that was supposed to encapsulate all women’s shapes. Instead it seemed to box women in, made them feel uncomfortable choosing a bottle that was not their own shape, and generally just made women more self-conscious.
Another one that hit close to home was a “Dove Firming” campaign. Never mind that they felt the need to tell women they need “firming” up, but it also said “As tested on real curves”. And right in front of me were gorgeous women with “real curves”. Which gave me the impression that I, at a measly 100 pounds did not have “real” curves. Time and again, Dove falls into this trap. I notice it because I don’t have the body of Victoria’s secret angels, and I also don’t have the body of the “real beauty” that Dove emphasizes. Frankly, it makes me uncomfortable and also makes me question my womanhood. There’s a subtle point here. Dove is trying to be subversive, but the only tool they have is binary. Nothing is clearer than the image below where we compare Victoria’s secret models to the dove models. Although there is slightly more variation in the Dove sizes, it’s not all that much more than Victoria’s secret.
Some liken dove to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In this case, a conglomerate in diversity’s clothing. Rather than emphasizing what makes strong women, such as pursuing goals, making choices, pushing for equal rights, dove has to still go back to selling their products. So instead they emphasize and focus on letting women know that finding oneself beautiful is and should be a major indicator of their self-worth.
I certainly applaud Dove for taking a step forward in a positive direction, however, I can’t fully believe that it is in entire support of what it says its mission is. After all, they are a for profit company under a massive conglomerate that supports brands with a history of sexist and objectifying undercurrents. That’s why it’s not possible for capitalism to solve these problems as they are the cause of these problems. It’s like a smoking company trying to promote fitness.
My jammed up versions tries to encapsulate everything that Dove does not focus on. I wanted to encourage women to look past just the surface and beauty to find their self-worth. That just because “real beauty” campaigns tell you otherwise, that it does not have to be the exterior, but rather their interior. We don’t have to constantly have us be told that we’re beautiful to move on with our lives. Our looks shouldn’t be a hindrance to what we want to accomplish and who we want to be. In fact, it shouldn’t matter at all. Your beauty should not define you. It’s not an us versus them. It’s not skinny vs fat, real vs not real. It’s we’re all women, we all should support each other, and we should all just focus on things that do not objectify us. Beauty does not just mean how you look. It’s who you are as a person/
I wanted to also emphasize that beauty isn’t binary. I found that many Dove campaigns (if you’re not in one of these bottles then too bad for you) box women’s shape into very clearly defined divisions. You might not be in any of these shapes, but it does not matter and again it’s not relevant.
I also wanted to show the hypocrisy of the dove firming ad. Aside from not including women of mopre body shapes, I thought about how women with those “supposed” real curves felt. That they are the only ones who need firming?
Finally I want to end this by saying that all women are real and valuable and just wonderfully incredible.