Is Dove photoshopping its “real beauty” ads?

when dove’s real beauty campaign first came out, everyone was beside themselves kissing dove’s ass and talking about how great it was for female body image.

ever the pessimist, i’ve always thought the dove campaign was completely full of shit.  it’s a marketing ploy to get people to visit the dove website, and the “real beauty” they feature in ads and on their website is same ol,’ same ol.  “i have freckles, and i still think i’m beautiful.”  meanwhile, i’m thinking: you’re a ten year old red-headed white kid.  hello, lindsey lohan circa the parent trap?  of course people think you’re cute and beautiful.

“i’m beautiful and i have braces!”  you and every other kid on the block.

“oh look!  they showed naked old women on huge billboards in times square!!”  …who gives a shit?  those old women are gorgeous and considerably wrinkle-free by mainstream standards.

dove pro-age ad

gasp they showed fat people in an ad!”  uh huh…fat people who are suspiciously cellulite free.

the people featured in their ads are all traditionally beautiful in one way or another.  there’s rolls of fat, but no cellulite.  there’s “fat” people, but no obese people.  there’s old people who have aged astonishingly well.  what’s more, they’re mostly black, white, or asian.  and if there are minorities, they’re usually “ethnic:”

so the real message of the campaign: it’s okay to have imperfections, so long as they’re not too imperfect (or too ordinary) for a mainstream national campaign.

also (and perhaps most offensively), dove is a part of uni-lever.

so is axe.

so while people are distracted, ooh-ing and ah-ing over the merits of dove (read: unilever) showing “real beauty” through it’s “positive” marketing, axe (read: unilever) is getting away with featuring women whoring themselves at men who spray themselves with axe.

young girls get the commercials telling them that they’re beautiful for being “different” (so long as they’re the right kind of different), while young men get to fantasize about being a stud if they buy the right deoderant or whatever the fuck else axe sells.

anyway, annie leibovitz and dove are now under scrutiny for allegedly retouching some of the photos that were taken for the campaign.

Unilever and Mr. Rankin, the original photographer on the campaign, had made a point of saying the ads hadn’t been touched up in some media reports. And the retouching issue was important at least to the Pro-Age models — women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who posed nude for the ads and had been told their images would not be retouched, said one of them, Wendy Katzman, of San Francisco, in an e-mail.

“We asked and were explicitly told that none of our [Dove Pro-Age] photos were retouched,” she said on Thursday. “I just heard about The New Yorker article last night and was pretty upset about it!” She didn’t recall who had told her the photos wouldn’t be retouched, but said it wasn’t Ms. Leibovitz.

whether they were doctored or not (and i maintain that they were, because those models are too perfectly imperfect), i’m just glad people are now questioning that obnoxious campaign.  anyone else with me on this?

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About Melissa

I love donuts. Chocolate iced, hold the sprinkles.
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12 Responses to Is Dove photoshopping its “real beauty” ads?

  1. Amy says:

    wow that has totally given me a hole different view point on that ad

    and suprisingly i totally agree with ya

    😀 great work chik

    ur really gettin the message acroos 🙂

  2. mya says:

    so what?
    at least what they are doing is a million times better than what other
    companies are doing.
    These women aren’t models and they represent majority of today’s women.
    I’d rather see a photoshop picture of a real woman than a photoshop picture of a model.

  3. Jessica says:

    I understand that unilever sells skin whitening products in India… While I do appreciate the increased variety in images the Dove advertisements contribute to the homogenized landscape of N.American adverstising, I also feel frustrated when these ‘progressive’ ads are purely rooted in marketing strategy, rather than philosophy. It feels so manipulative! I’ve always wondered about Benneton and Kenneth Cole ads too…

  4. Michelle says:

    No, I am not with you. Advertising must appeal to people on a visceral level to be effective.

    Yes, I am weary of the “model-perfect” images in advertising.

    Obesity, muscle atrophy, enlarged pores, bruises, cellulite, open sores, etc., do not attract customers/unless we can comfortably identify with the models. How “ugly’ do you think the models/actors need to be?

    Something between the two extremes is perfectly acceptable.

    I think Dove’s marketing campaign is a healthy transition.

  5. Rebecca says:

    hmm i never know what to think all i know is i was a perfectly normal kid then when i got to 18 i started to think i was fat and get really down on myself and stop doing the things i enjoy, aka swimmin,cycling, because i didnt fit into and have a “hot body”

  6. Kahli says:

    Who cares is they do Photoshop them?
    I would rather see those people in an add then some model, they embrace the beauty that is more common in today’s society and the standards they present can be achieved by almost anybody, while models are people that have been dramatically photo shopped to create an “ideal look”.
    The people in the dove ads are beautiful in their own way, and set a good/healthy example on today’s society, instead of making them think they need to go on a diet to achieve a standard.

    I support the dove campaign 100%!!

  7. P.S. says:

    I love this post! -kisses and runs away-

  8. Pamela says:

    I’ve with you. I always hated the ad. Maybe I’m a prude but I wan’t want to see my mom naked in times square just because she’s beautiful.

  9. Rene' says:

    I know I’m kinda late on this but, sister, it’s ok… slow your roll. Your rant makes it seem as if you are not truly comfortable with yourself or the human body. While I wish I could shed a few pounds, have cellulite, still coloring my hair and I am a black woman who needs a tan desperately, I still think it’s refreshing to show beautiful women as they are, old, plump, wrinkled… it makes me reconsider why I am so ashamed of my body. Actually, women are much harder on themselves than most men, they really don’t have that many requirements of us, namely warm body, sympathetic, maternal, whore, place to lay one’s hat and fill the belly. I am also a graphic designer and the clean and simple concept and approach they (Dove) took is absolutely brilliant! After-all it got your attention!!! Hell, it’s still a commercial campaign and you have to clean it up for presentation. The message is as clear as a bell, clean, simple, natural, human, self-awareness, self-love, inclusive… When they want you to donate to help the starving kids, they show you images of sickness, sadness, filth, flies, tears… it’s called marketing! Don’t Hate, appreciate! Oh, and only patronize products that truly reflect who you are! Peace…

  10. Melissa says:

    Hey Rene,

    I am comfortable with the human body. I’m simply saying that the women in the Dove ads still fall well within the traditional standards of beauty and aren’t as revolutionary as they seem. Their “different” bodies aren’t all that different from the bodies in other ads. They’re larger and older, yes, but they still are more attractive than the average woman walking down the street. A true campaign that embraced the average woman would show average-looking women in all their glory: with cellulite, with disabilities, with scars and wrinkles, etc.

  11. Meta D says:

    I think the Dove campaign is wonderful – they are redifining beauty as confidence and building their customer’s confidence by showing the beauty of health and the charm of imperfections.

    And saying the models are mostly “white, black, or asian…or ‘ethnic'”? Umm, that describes most people.

    And yes, they are trying to get people to use their products – to take care of, take pride in, and feel better about themselves. I fail to see the problem.

    Lastly, to people who say things like “I don’t want to see them naked just because they’re beautiful” – you ARE being a prude. Look at them artistically: the color, light, shadow, shape. The naked form is gorgeous. If you have a problem with it, realize that that’s the impact of society, not an inborn impulse. Maybe you should work on that; Dove is.

  12. richardec says:

    I found the Dove beauty ads as sexy as the so called mainstream beauty ones. It hadn’t occurred to me until reading his that they were doing more to exclude the truly unphotogenic by representing these attractive women as what we should consider fringes of the beauty world.

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