The Success of “Camera Shy”

Dove’s True Beauty campaign has resulted in several viral videos all with the central goal of proving to every woman that she is innately beautiful (…and also selling soap). While I can’t deny that the intentions of these ads is a refreshing and positive change, often the way they have been executed has remained problematic. Several have casts that are almost entirely white, young and conventionally attractive so that while the text at the end reads “You are more beautiful than you think,” the viewer can clearly hear, “but you’d be most beautiful if you looked like these women.” The question also doesn’t address an equally significant problem, linked inextricably with body image, which is the sexualization and objectification of women’s bodies in our society which makes women believe being beautiful is so essential to their identity.

The same is not true of Dove’s recent work, Camera Shy. Opening with a montage of women each avoiding the camera, the commercial tagline asks “When did you stop thinking you’re beautiful?” as it shows a contrasting montage of little girls mugging for the camera. The cast of this ad is diverse in age, body type and race and the message is not so much addressing the individual woman and trying to assure that she’s beautiful. Instead the ad raises the point that as children we are not crushed by a constant fear of what we look like, it’s a fear that was impressed upon us socially and is not innate to womanhood.

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2 thoughts on “The Success of “Camera Shy”

  1. tiffanygomez1

    I completely agree with your post! Some of the past work done by the Dove campaign has been a bit problematic for me. Like you mentioned, the lack of inclusion of different races and women who are not considered conventionally beautiful, has steered me away from the different efforts of their campaign. However, I do think they hit the mark wight his one. By showing women of different ages, they have showed the way in which women have been socialized to believe that they are not beautiful. Through the different images pervasive in the media in regards to beauty and self esteem, women have come to believe that they will never be able to achieve the ideal perception of beauty. If they can’t achieve perfection, why document it? Thus begins the cycle where women do not want to be photographed and shy away from a camera.

    The inclusion of the little girls at the end are perfect example of how gender is socialized and learned. The little girls’ willingness and inclination to stare and appreciate themselves in mirrors and cameras shows the innocence that comes with being that young. The little girls have not yet been exposed to all the different messages, norms and stereotype set forth for women. They have not yet learned about skewed beauty perceptions and are used and accustomed to only one beauty—their own. I think this ad could be used as a perfect argument to show the distinction between sex and gender and to show the way that gender is not intrinsic and it is something that our society is responsible for.

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  2. emtrue17

    I think the “Camera Shy” video is the best commercial in the Dove True Beauty campaign I’ve seen so far. That being said, I do find the entire campaign to be slightly problematic. It seems that the newest trend in mainstream advertising-turned-feminism is the idea of reinforcing women’s beauty and reminding women that they are pretty in their own way. I think that it’s a lovely idea, but at the same time, part of me worries that by delivering this specific message to women, we’re reinforcing that women are only valuable because of appearance and we negate to emphasize other positive attributes and characteristics. The Dove commercials aren’t reminding women that they are strong, independent, smart, and have the power to make change and accomplish their goals; instead, they are telling women that they are pretty and beautiful, insinuating that that’s all women need to be. I think it’s important to be affirmative of women’s beauty, but even more imperative is reminding women that they have more worth than mere physical appearance dictates.

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