Dove recently launched a new ad that complimented women on their natural beauty. “Women are more beautiful than they think” the ad said. Quite predictably, thousands of women updated their Facebook and Twitter statuses with “We are more beautiful than we think we are” and “Treasure yourself, you are beautiful.” What many read to be a flattering source of self-respect and realization of the self, can be seen as unmistakably condemning to the women race- a shamelessly shallow justification of beauty, I would argue.

Are we really defined by our outer appearances? If you watch the ad, you will see that the experiment conducted by Dove in the ad involves a tall, blonde woman who doesn’t see herself as beautiful enough. People around her describe her to be more beautiful than she perceives herself. She leaves the room in tears, convinced that she is more beautiful than she imagines.

A happy ending.

Image

Not really. It’s astounding how unquestioning and shallow women can sometimes be. Blogger Jazz Brice correctly points out in her blog (http://jazzylittledrops.tumblr.com/post/48118645174/why-doves-real-beauty-sketches-video-makes-me), that the ad is racist and close-minded. What she doesn’t mention—is that the ad is also sexist. I’d like to see a man put up there, as a puppet, being made to talk about his outer appearance and being made to believe that he is more handsome than he thinks he is. For centuries, society has stressed on the need for women to be “beautiful,” and to treasure their outer beauty. If the ad really does promote women to think highly of themselves, why does it even bring up the fact that beauty is essential to self-respect.

It is essentially our need to please—mostly members of the opposite sex—that makes us want to be beautiful. If we didn’t feel the need for our appearance to question our definition of ourselves, we won’t be questioning our beauty in the first place. Dove really does reinforce the fact that women should be seen as man-pleasing, good-looking creatures that need mirror—or other people—to define their notion of the self. Personally, I would be really offended if someone else was asked to define what constituted beauty in my body. I don’t know how those women could leave the room moved by this act of disgrace.

Women have always been seen as sexual objects. “Beautiful” women find it easier to make friends, get jobs, find husbands and even make it to Hollywood. A “beautiful” woman has the path paved for her; she has half the battle won. Even her kids can go to pre-school every morning and boast about how their “mama is the prettiest.”  Are they ever asked how good-looking their daddies are?

I don’t blame women of my gender for thinking the way they do. They don’t have a choice.

“[Beauty] impacts the choices we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children,” says the “beautiful” blonde woman in the ad. Really?

I don’t know about her, but I certainly do not look into the mirror every morning before making life choices. I’m pretty sure my mom, who I think is beautiful, didn’t raise my brother and I based on how beautiful she was. Her parenting would have been no different had she been any less beautiful.

It is because of companies like Dove that women are constantly made to feel the need to be beautiful, to constantly impress and show off their outer selves. We probably are more beautiful than we think we are, but why should we have to reinforce that time and again? Is it not sufficient that we are beautiful people—inside and out—and that we know it. By constantly having us estimate the magnitude of our outer beauty, such companies reinforce the importance of good looks.

Who really judges what constitutes good looks? I might argue that having a fat chin or brown eyes is beautiful. You can’t take that away from me by establishing that a think chin and blue eyes is the accepted notion of beauty. We women aren’t a statistic, and we certainly don’t need to cross a benchmark that constitutes beautiful. We can be and feel beautiful even if we think we don’t look as good as we think we do. Because that isn’t important. And it certainly isn’t “critical to our happiness.”

At this point, the only thing essential to our happiness is our belief in ourselves. We need to believe that at no point in time do we need someone to tell us that we have a thin chin. If we think we have fat noses, then so be it. Because I don’t believe that you saying I have a thin nose is beautiful is going to make me feel any better. We all are capable enough to rely on our own intuition. If we can evaluate our own skills and make our own decisions, we certainly do not need people to tell us how we should see ourselves. We deserve to have the power to think for ourselves.

Beauty is what we define it to be.

It’s beautiful to be able to define myself without a company telling me how to.

It’s beautiful to be me.

I’m beautiful even if I’m not a tall, white woman.

I’m beautiful even if I have a fat chin or a fat nose.

I’m beautiful even if my hair isn’t silky.

I’m beautiful and I don’t need someone to tell me that.

You are too.

As for Dove—they’re going to have to rethink their marketing strategies once women begin to wake up to themselves.

 

 

Share your thoughts

6 Responses

  1. “Women have always been seen as sexual objects. “Beautiful” women find it easier to make friends, get jobs, find husbands and even make it to Hollywood. A “beautiful” woman has the path paved for her; she has half the battle won. Even her kids can go to pre-school every morning and boast about how their “mama is the prettiest.” Are they ever asked how good-looking their daddies are?”

    Beauty is also how others define you. I am 55 and still maintain my “beauty”, or blond bimbo looks as I refer to them. I don’t wear make up, or dye my hair, and dress up consists of jeans, button up mans style shirt and maybe some heels. I’m the one who walks into a room and heads turn. Yep. Of course the room gets quieter as the men steal side glances at you while their wives stare them down and you just know a few folks won’t be enjoying their ride home.

    Yes, women have always been seen as sexual objects, and beautiful women are shown NO mercy.

    Beauiful women do NOT find it easier to make friends. Not an actual REAL friend, one who wants to go to lunch with you, or one who is on your side and is there for you, like you would be if you had a REAL friend. But “beautiful” women do not usually make REAL friends. The “friends” I have had over the years are of the opinion that as a “beautiful” woman, what problems could I possibly have. All I have to do is bat an eye and some man will run to help me. It was a girlfriend I was looking for to confide in. But it wasn’t my “friend” who helped me.

    Yes, they want to hang out with me, BECAUSE I attract a LOT of male attention, mostly unwanted, or because they want to use me as some kind of model to remake themselves, right down to buying a pair of jeans just like the ones you bought the other day, and then wearing them while around you and making it sound like you copied them. They NEVER come to my parties and they don’t invite me to theirs. I did have a “real friend” once. She asked me to be her maid of honor at her wedding. So I did. Wore the dress she wanted me to wear and paid for it. Imagine the horror when her rude guests kept saying over and over again what a “beautiful” maid of honor she had, but NEVER ONCE mentioning that the bride was beautiful as well. I have not spoken to her since, as she did not appreciate it and although not actually blaming me for anything decided she does know me anymore. After all, a “friend” such as a “beautiful” woman is merely out to sleep with YOUR husband.

    And then we have our jealous female family members….like the cousin who invites you to visit her 1500 miles away, and so you do–for the first and only time–while you are on a road trip, and the minute she sees you she becomes hostile because she has put on 50 pounds and you have not and she introduces you to her friends as “my free spirit cousin who just rolled in from California”, while rolling her eyes, or she makes you walk the 6 blocks back to her house after you walk across the parking lot during a freak rainstorm that dumps so much water on you that your crotch is soaked, when you went to retrieve your sun glasses from the car, because your cousin has to make a stop at the Humane Society across town first and then the grocery store, and your crotch is wet and you’re cold and acting like a prima donna because you want dry clothes. She then spends the remainder of your visit on her cell phone or computer.

    Which brings me to men. Yeah, we can get whatever guy comes around us. That’s a fact. But what does that mean?

    Yeah, the guys who come around us are mostly pigs who want to get laid. I’m 55. IMAGINE THAT COMING FROM SOME 65 YEAR OLD! Heck, imagine it coming from a 35 year old. It gets NO better, only grosser. Do these guys want to chat. Oh sure, about menopause and my safety in being able to have unprotected sex without reproducing. Oh yippee. Do they want to know that I like to fix old VW’s and know how to build an engine and actually have tools? Or that I like to take road trips in said VW? Or that I like to garden and sew or like Greek food and museums? Absolutely NOT. Because they don’t want to do “those activities” with me. Oh no.

    And the guys I actually DO want to meet? Ha. After all, blond bimbo can get any man she wants, and she looks like she has a good time all over the place and well, I don’t want to meet a woman like that. NEVER MIND THAT YOU NEVER SPOKE TO HER WHEN SHE SMILED AND SAID HI. SO HOW WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT SHE IS.

    Getting the job, sure. 9 times out of 10 we’ll get the job, especially if the boss is a man. BUT, if you think you will enjoy the working environment, think again. If there are any other women in the office they will be cold and you won’t be joining them on your lunch break. And should you appear in the coffee room when they are in there having a happy conversation, and smile and say “good morning”, there will be instant silence. Actually, that part is kinda fun as it’s like being magic.

    As for Hollywood, yes that is absolutely where a beautiful woman can make it. For sure. And if she has no talent, they may even send her to acting school.

    So yeah, I guess there is a paved path, special just for beautiful women. And if you aren’t into the above, you can have a solo hike, too, while trying not to be bitter.

    The rest of your article is so true. I wish everybody felt that way. I didn’t see that Dove commercial in the same light as you did…at first. But your points are right on the money. They make it seem like these women have some sort of psychological issue, when they don’t….Or didn’t before.

    Carry on.

  2. These are all valid points.
    However, I quite liked the ad. It’s aim was to reflect how women see themselves and seeks to debunk body dysmorphia. Remember Dove is a company trying to sell body lotion, not a feminist movement for social change – as such, it was refreshing they took the angle of wanting women to discover their true beauty rather than hold up an air-brushed ideal that none of us can reach.

  3. Jasmine, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I also got a bit of a bad feeling after seeing the add. Although their hope is to make women feel better about themselves, it doensn’t deconstruct any of the social norms that reign in our societies today, which define how women and girls should look, act, and behave. Dove actually just continues to contribute to strengthening these norms of sexism and this idea of beauty , and that it is their idea of beauty that defines a woman. It is what Dove is saying that they are trying to work against that they are just strengthening. The norms that lead to millions of teenage girls having eating disorders, unhealthy relationships and the norms that lead boys and men to believe that what gives girls and women value is their looks. These norms is an incredibly dangerous infection in societies around the world, leading to discrimination and violence towards women and girls in all sectors of society.
    Thanks again for highlighting this important topic Jasmine. We shouldn’t just accept and go on, but join in deconstructing these norms.

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