So Dove followed up their adverts that don’t contain any blatant product pushing and instead embrace the idea that every woman is beautiful. Because, guys, Dove doesn’t just hawk shampoo and soap, no..they are completely invested in making womens feel good about themselves.
Full disclosure, I love all their adverts on beauty and womens’ perceptions of themselves. For me, the best part was when the mothers, friends and daughters pushed their female companions through the door marked ‘beautiful’. That was heartwarming stuff. (Watch here.)
But Dove may not have as good a grip on the anatomy of the female mind as they would like to think. These are my first thoughts:
1. Confirmation bias and its downside
I did not come up with this theory but I found it quite interesting. Basically, you are more receptive to a message if it confirms your original belief. So, if you think that every woman should walk around feeling FLAWLESS, then you will think that yes, this advert is awesome.If, on the other hand, you think that women should not be judged on their appearance, then this advert will be insulting and has probably taken the feminist movement back into the 18th century, because WHY SHOULD WE BE JUDGED BY OUR LOOKS ONLY???
There is a more insidious undertone though: if you feel good about yourself, then, you will be like, of course, I am BEAUTIFUL. But if you don’t, then you will not only be left still feeling unattractive, but now you have the added pressure of feeling guilty for not feeling beautiful. Like I said, mindfuck.
2. Dove may not know what actually makes women feel beautiful
As much as the entire self-help industry would like us to think that all you need to do to feel good about yourself (and therefore live the life you want right now and attract wealth and an angel husband and a perfect physique through the power of your mind-waves and positive energy…) is just repeat self affirming platitudes to yourself until you wake up one day magically transformed.
It may just be me, but no amount of repeating stuff in the mirror to myself ever changed anything.
If anything, it’s a great excuse to stay stuck in the same place and underestimate how difficult it actually is to change anything about yourself. (Except underwear, one would hope.)
If I look back at all the times I felt the most awesome, powerful and yes, beautiful, it was when I was working towards something. When I felt like my everyday shitty struggles were contributing to a bigger goal.
It never really mattered if I was wearing makeup or not. Or if I was skinny or not-so-skinny. If I had the right clothes or the right accessories. As long as I knew that I was in charge, then I felt, quite simply, FLAWLESS.
On the other hand, if I was failing myself and acutely aware of it, in that downward spiral that seems to have no bottom, then no, looking in the mirror was no fun. And that advert probably wouldn’t change that.
Mind you, I did not say achieving your goals. I said working towards your goals.
3. What the hell is beauty anyways?
Seriously, would the world population stand at 7 billion if everyone had the same definition of beauty? I think not.
This is where I agree with Dove though. First I should say that your mother thinks that you are beautiful. And you are/ should be convinced that you shit rainbows and gold. The rest is semantics and you don’t need to ‘#ChooseBeautiful’.
Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter that much.
- Do you think that bleaching your skin will make you happy and beautiful? Go for it (as long as it is safe and you can make sure you don’t run into complications later)
- Think you should grow your hair out, wear Khaki and be all out not female female? (Why the hell not?)
- How about do something to your hair that will piss #TeamNatural off? (yeah, so?)
- Live on tuna and egg whites and look like a waif? (Sure, just check with doctor first)
- Spend hours contouring your face and wearing the right shade of lipstick? (Hell yes, and share your secrets while you are at it!)
Really, this has been said millions of times before, but you will be judged, no matter what you do. So why not do something that you like (well, until you don’t like it anymore, because humans are not like walls, they change…)
At the end of the day, Dove is a company that sells hygiene products, including skin lightening creams, armpit lightening creams (as f you will ever fail a job interview because your armpits are dark. Or your life is so together that the one and only thing that is stopping you from your happy ever after is your cursed, mutant armpits? And of course, those AWFUL, AWFUL smelling Axe body washes )Dove is building a brand, and going about it in a clever and quite admirable way.
Honestly, life is hard enough without the added pressure of feeling guilty because you feel beautiful, don’t always feel beautiful all the time, never feel beautiful ever, worry about your choice at that present moment or all the other combinations that it is possible to experience.
What I can say is that ‘beauty’, whatever your definition, is like a great cover page. It earns you free points that you should definitely collect in the best way you know possible. But when it comes to the real substance of life, what truly matters isn’t meeting shifting goal posts. It’s something else, (i’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think it is ‘she was the most beautiful woman that ever lived.’)
We are waiting for the Parody videos.