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.