For some time now, Dove has been encouraging “a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty” and has been celebrating women in all their multi-hued, multi-ethnic, full-figured, angular, youthful, older, freckle-faced diversity. While there were some negative comments about alleged photoshopping, the “Real Beauty” campaign has endured and evolved and now appears on the web in a new incarnation that is already provoking the same intense reactions as the original.
Instead of focusing on the physical, the new web ads highlight how women view—and judge—themselves. Far more harshly, it turns out, than the men and other women in their lives. It takes a forensic artist’s sketches to illustrate the “aha moment” when the subjects discover they are in fact “more beautiful than they think.”
Of course there are those who say that the ads emphasize traditional notions of beauty and, indeed, the importance of physical beauty itself. They miss the point. Dove’s message is more about self-esteem than appearance. How we beat up on ourselves for supposed flaws that few others see or might even appreciate.
Naysayers aside, the campaign has been enormously effective; it has been viewed 7.5 million times on the Dove YouTube channel and received 2,000 likes and 1000 shares on the brand’s Facebook page. (Full disclosure: I bought a Dove product at the drugstore this weekend, a direct result of the smart and creative storytelling.)
Men, of course, don’t suffer from this problem, a phenomenon New Feelings Time Comedy parodies to great effect.