Posted: September 1, 2015, 1:30 p.m.
by Annslee Wilson.
This past April, Dove released the latest edition of its ongoing, decade-long Real Beauty campaign. This time around, Dove traveled to five major cities around the world and set up two signs above doors at shopping centers, one labeled “average” and the other labeled “beautiful.” An overwhelming amount of women were caught on camera choosing to enter through the “average” door. The #ChooseBeauty video, created by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago, has received loads of criticism due to its lack of authenticity.
Past Real Beauty initiatives, such as “Sketches,” have been praised for inspiring women in this new age of women empowerment. A Marketing Magazine article criticizes the #ChooseBeauty video for its alleged use of actresses. The writer traced back tweets from October posted by these “actresses,” one saying, “Feeling blessed en route to Doors/Choose Beauty documentary set.” The author also claims that characters in the video are “all terrible clichés being dressed up as a genuine social experiment.”
Actresses or not, the video identifies a real crisis that is present in today’s society – women fail to realize their own beauty. We are surrounded by cultural standards that do not align with reality. This has a detrimental effect on how we, as women, portray ourselves and how we feel in our own bodies.
I admit, if I were faced with two options, average or beautiful, surrounded by dozens of passers-by, I would choose to walk through the “average” door to avoid being perceived as “cocky” or “self-absorbed.” And I am not alone.
In fact, according to the #ChooseBeauty website, 96 percent of women avoid using the word “beautiful” when it comes to describing how they look. The truth is that we not only feel uncomfortable in our own skin, but we are told that self-gratifying or “boasting” about our beauty is a no-no. So in 2004, Dove took it upon itself to start the conversation, since no one else was going to step up to the plate.
The Marketing Magazine article also states that the #ChooseBeauty campaign forces women to simply label themselves as average or beautiful and accuses Dove of identifying women based solely on their beauty. The author fails to realize that it’s more about self-confidence than outer beauty. Confidence is the key ingredient for any successful and ambitious woman. The author says the new video goes against the latest push for feminism, when it actually advocates feminism. It tells women to disregard what they see in the media and what they are told by others, and instead not allow culture to define them. Feminism is all about confidence, and that is exactly what Dove is conveying through the #ChooseBeauty campaign.
Throughout the Marketing Magazine article, the author repeatedly states that we are living in a “post-feminist world.” OK, this is a bold and 100 percent inaccurate statement. Yes, it is true that women have made great strides. But we have not achieved nearly enough to consider our society “post-feminist.” If this were the case, then every single woman would have chosen to walk through the “beautiful” door without hesitation. Likewise, women would be comfortable with negotiating their salary, as opposed to settling with what they are offered (but that’s another story! See here.)
While it might be true that the #ChooseBeauty video falls short of the authenticity evident in past Real Beauty projects, the message remains the same. As long as Dove continues to offer a safe place for this conversation, the campaign will continue to be effective in changing women’s perceptions of their beauty and worth, giving women across the world the confidence needed to live a fulfilled life.