Mascara, concealer, more volume, more padding, these are not the items women are buying after seeing beauty product advertisements, but rather an improved self-image. How can women and young girls truly feel confident about their appearance when they are constantly being sold beauty products that will help them lift something, cover something else, and give them that ‘thing they’re missing’? The truth is, many beauty advertisements have been successful at not only selling women their products, but also at setting an unrealistic and unattainable definition of beauty. Dove has shelved the traditional “you need to improve this” approach and adopted a new one that has received waves of positive attention. Dove is seeking to empower their female customers through their products and programs.
Dove, a Unilever brand, released a video on their YouTube channel on April 14. The video, which is produced by Ogilvy, documents a social experiment where an FBI forensic sketch artist is commissioned to draw two images of female participants: one as they describe themselves and the other as a stranger describes them. Each female highlights the flaws of her face in contrast to the strangers that highlight the positive attributes, resulting in two drastically different sketches. The video is eye-opening, placing a spotlight on how critical women are of their physical appearances. The video has received close to 4 million YouTube views in less than a week and has been reposted thousands of times to popular social networking sites. The video has also sparked a debate about how beauty advertisements are aiding in the social problem of low self-esteem among teens and young women.
Dove’s corporate vision is to “imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.” This vision has been translated into their print and television advertisements that now feature real women that are different from their hair, age, skin color, to body shapes. Dove’s print and digital advertisements are confronting the narrow definition our society has placed on beauty and seeking to broaden that definition to be more inclusive of all women. In the “Real Beauty Sketches” video, Dove is not seeking to sell deodorant or body wash, but confidence. The other featured videos on their YouTube channel show that women in America need to be sold confidence, not products.
Dove is not only making strides in helping to improve women’s self-esteem across the world, but is also changing the face of beauty advertising. They are stripping away the fake layer of too -thin models and replacing it with the faces of their consumers. Why has it taken this long for a company to realize that women want to be empowered by their beauty products, not made to feel they have to hide behind them? Finally, a company is being honest and transparent by featuring real life women and showcasing their beauty and happiness as the standard we should all strive to achieve. Dove has changed the conversation in the beauty advertising world for the better and I hope more companies follow their lead.