Hired or Fired: Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Have you seen Dove’s newest commercial for its “Real Beauty” campaign? The campaign has been garnering mixed reviews over what some critics consider a double-sided message and others consider a real message that finally speaks to real women. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” below:

On the one hand, the video has powerful moments that illustrate the stark difference in how women perceive themselves and how others perceive them. It is calling attention to the low self-esteem that many women have and asking them to change that and this commercial is unique in that vein.

On the other hand, the message of the video is contradicting in that Dove is selling products with what Jennifer Pozner of Women in Media & News calls

“its own underlying philosophy: cellulite is unsightly, women’s natural aging process is shameful, and flabby thighs are flawed and must be fixed… oh, so conveniently by Dove’s newest lotion… As Salon.com’s Rebecca Traister put it, the message is ‘love your ass but not the fat on it.’”

Other critics have challenged Dove’s use of the term “Real Beauty.” Starre Vartan of Mother Nature Network says that the message in our culture that is being regurgitated in this ad is simply that girls are not valuable without their beauty.

“Brave, strong, smart? Not enough,” she says. “You have to be beautiful. And ‘beautiful’ means something very specific, and very physical. Essentially every movie and TV show and commercial shows us that, right?”

“I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices in the friends that we make, the jobs that we apply for, how we treat our children… It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to our happiness,” says a woman in the ad.

But what exactly does she mean by natural beauty?

In this ad, it seems to represent physical attractiveness. Is that what Dove considers “real beauty” to be? Vartan says, “It doesn’t matter what other merits a woman posses, if she is not conventionally attractive, she is essentially worthless… And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is.”

What are your thoughts on the term “Real Beauty?” How do you think the message of the campaign is contributing to Dove’s brand story?