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Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign: 10 Years Strong

Posted: March 9, 2015, 2:24 p.m.
by Kaitlin Goins.

According to, only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media. A vast majority (91 percent) of women are unhappy with their bodies. According to the NYC Girl’s Project, 81 percent of girls prefer natural photos of models over the airbrushed versions prevalent in the media.

If you haven’t noticed, companies are finally paying attention to negative body image issues among girls and women. From Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign to Gap Inc.’s “Dress Normal” campaign, organizations are becoming conscious of the negative effects that their advertising has had on women.

Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign has attempted to tackle this negative stigma in today’s society. Going on its 10th year, the campaign has taken on everything from Victoria’s Secret advertisements to personal image issues.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see how far this campaign has come:

Photo courtesy of Basado en Hechos Reales (Flickr)
Photo courtesy of Basado en Hechos Reales (Flickr)

Kicking off in 2004, Dove asked viewers to judge women’s looks and vote online, and in 2005, Dove launched an advertising campaign that featured six real women with real bodies and real curves. (Take that, Victoria’s Secret!) The campaign drove women to to discuss body image and beauty issues.

In 2006, Dove really drilled this idea into the media. First, Dove released a short film, “Evolution,” that depicted the transformation of a real woman into a model. This not only depicted the unrealistic expectations of beauty, but it also demonstrated the intense amount of editing done on these already perfect women — and when I say perfect, I mean perfect.

Dove then established a Self Esteem Fund to inspire and educate women about a wider definition of beauty. Finally, Dove released a Super Bowl commercial called “Little Girls” that received an estimated 89 million views.

In 2007, Dove released its study, “Beauty Comes of Age.” This third section of the campaign celebrated women over 50 including their wrinkles, age spots and grey hair. In 2008, Dove released its “Pro Age” commercial featuring these women. From 2009 through 2012, Dove released an app in conjunction with Facebook that allowed users to erase advertisements they found offensive. In 2010, the campaign turned from “Real Beauty” to “Dove’s Movement for Self-Esteem.”

Photo courtesy of earthlingorgeous (Flickr)
Photo courtesy of earthlingorgeous (Flickr)

In 2013, Dove returned with its “Sketches” campaign, in which a woman would describe herself to a sketch artist who would then draw what she described. Another woman would then describe the first woman to the sketch artist who would draw a separate sketch. The two sketches would be revealed side by side.

In 2014, Dove released its “Selfie” campaign that encouraged mothers and daughters to post selfies on social media to boost their confidence. No one can forget when Dove tackled Victoria’s Secret’s “The Perfect Body” advertisement last year. Dove combated the ad with its own similar advertisement with women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities with all wrinkles, dimples and _imperfections_ with the slogan “The Real Perfect Body.” A petition was created on with more than 20,000 signatures, which prompted Victoria’s Secret to pull the advertisement.

Photo courtesy of 78986443@N02
Photo courtesy of 78986443@N02

This year, Dove teamed up with Twitter during the week leading up to the Oscars and released a commercial that turned self-hating tweets into encouraging tweets.

Props to Dove for using its products to not only create awareness of body image issues, but also to combat negative stigmas in such creative ways. While the campaign has had its weaknesses, I — for one — only purchase Dove soaps because of the company’s commitment to a great cause.


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