I’ve had no less than 68 people send me a link to the Dove #ChooseBeautiful campaign in the past week, asking me for my thoughts. So, for the benefit of those people (and everyone else reading this), I’d like to weigh in:
The Dove #ChooseBeautiful campaign, like every other product marketing attempt at empowerment, is bullshit.
Let me elaborate.
For more than a decade, Dove has been capitalising on women’s insecurities in their Campaign for Real Beauty.Their latest effort, #ChooseBeautiful, sees a handful of women asked to walk through either a door marked as “average” or a door marked as “beautiful”; a very symbolic marketing-y way of putting women on the spot and calling it research. If you haven’t already seen the video, you can check it out below.
Acknowledging differences and diversity as awesome qualities?
Leveraging deep-set insecurities that you have contributed to, in order to pretend that you, a soap company, are women’s biggest cheerleader?
Womp-womp. Bad. Empty. Transparent. Do better, Dove.
At face value, the idea behind #ChooseBeautiful is solid – when we choose to see ourselves as beautiful, that becomes an incredibly empowering choice. It’s an emotionally driven campaign (as all the best campaigns are) and elicits responses of tears, chills and “Oh my god, I HAVE to share this!”
But as always, I urge you to look beyond the face value of everything.
And if you dig just a little bit (and I mean the tiniest bit) below the surface of #ChooseBeautiful, it’s just marketing wankery. It’s a further catalyst for insecurity very cleverly disguised as an empowerment movement.
The bottom line is that it’s an advert from Dove, a company. A company designed to sell. Dove isn’t trying to save us from ourselves. They’re not deeply concerned with how you feel about yourself. And whilst it would be an absolutely AMAZING world if every woman could see the beauty in herself, that’s a world that Dove doesn’t want – however much they tell you that they do want it. Because if every woman saw the beauty in herself, then how the hell would Dove prey on women’s insecurities and use them as fodder to sell body wash that will evidently change our lives?
Your body wash doesn’t care if you feel beautiful.
Your shampoo isn’t the slightest bit concerned about how you feel about your body or if you have a good relationship with food.
And your moisturiser couldn’t give less of a shit about your self-worth.
They’re just products. Products that are completely unemotional, but that are given an emotional value which we’re made to believe is proportionate to the potential of those products to change our lives.
When we have a company that sells beauty products appointing themselves the patron saints of women’s body acceptance, we have a problem – the very vehicle that’s contributing to women’s body based insecurities is trying to now be women’s saviour.
Dove is like the bad boyfriend who tells you that you’d look so much better if you lost a little weight, did some squats and bumped your boobs up by about 3 cup sizes, then hugs you and wipes away your tears as you cry about your body woes that he caused.
I’ve discussed this extensively before (click here if you want a refresher), but Dove is owned by Unilever, who also is the parent company of Axe male-grooming products, with a lengthy track-record of using sexism, victim blaming and rape culture to market its products. The same marketing execs who brought us “The Axe Effect” (wherein women will be so blindsided by lust that we’ll throw ourselves that any guy wearing Axe who’ll look at us) are the very same masterminds behind “Choose Beautiful. Why can’t you see how beautiful you really are?”
It’s not a movement. It’s not refreshing. It’s not revolutionary. It’s just clever marketing.
Dove isn’t really Dove, The “Superheroine Women’s Empowerment And Body Loving Activism” Group.
Dove is Dove, The “Interests of Company Shareholders And Profit Margins Based On Commodifying Women’s Bodies In The Interests Of A Greater Market Stake” Group.
Advertising always has an agenda, usually sales. And although many ads can be inspiring and thought provoking, their goal is not to empower you. Their goal is to keep consumers stuck in hope/fear cycle wherein the fear is that life will suck without their product, and the hope is that life will be awesome with their product.
I’m all for any change that can take women’s self-esteem higher and yes, beautiful is a choice.
But that choice isn’t found in the aisle of a supermarket as you’re deciding whether to go with Dove or Nivea shower milk.