Posts Tagged ‘cosmetics’

Yes, Dove has done it again. “It” being releasing an ad meant to convince us that this company just wants us to feel good about ourselves. I’ve been seeing this commercial EVERYWHERE in the last couple of days, but just in case you missed it, you can watch it here:


This wholesome and positive commercial manages to annoy me a lot. It might seem like I’m just being negative, after all, what’s wrong with telling women to love themselves? Well, a lot, apparently.

1. If we actually felt good about ourselves, these companies would go out of business.

I mean, yeah, most of us will use soap and maybe moisturizer even if we felt beautiful all the time, but would we really need all the products Dove and their competitors offer us? Would we need the “Dove Beauty Bar” (as opposed to just regular soap)? Would we need their “Purely Pampering Pistachio Cream with Magnolia Body Wash”? Would we need their serums, masks, creams, sprays, and oils? Some of us will probably go for some pistachio and magnolia even if we felt great about ourselves, but not as many as if we felt that this is what we need to be beautiful (and beautiful is what matters).

Cosmetic companies have spent decades crushing women’s self esteem in order to get them to buy more products. They changed the standards of what’s considered “basic hygiene”, made it harder for women to make a living if they don’t use certain products regularly, and made us feel like crap if we don’t follow their rules for beauty. Now Dove comes out suggesting that they have the solution for this decades-long problem: cosmetics companies made you feel bad about yourself? Great! We have the solution — more cosmetics!

Personally I think it’s awfully rude for a cosmetics company to see itself as the savior of all women with low self esteem. Yes, you can make commercials that are not actively harmful to women (and I would welcome that), but co-opting feminism to sell cosmetics is just too low. You created a problem in order to sell us products, and now you’re going to pretend to fix it by selling us more products? How convenient. Mind you, this is a company that literally sells “whitening” deodorants, perfect for when your armpits are just too dark. Gender equality is not a sales pitch and using it as such is ridiculous. I’ll save Dove the time and money, I already have a new slogan for them: “To love yourself – Dove yourself.”

2. Low self-esteem is more complicated than “choose beautiful.”

These cosmetics companies did a great job of making us hate ourselves. And it’s not just them, it’s pretty much every industry that has something to sell us. They did such a great job that now most women and girls have very complicated relationships with their bodies and appearances. This complicated relationship cannot be solved with the simple “choose beautiful.” If it was that easy, we would have done it already.

Learning to love yourself in a society that is constantly telling you not to is hard. Making it seem so simple and easy is annoying and disrespectful. Making it seem like women who “choose average”, meaning women who don’t love the way they look, just have to get over themselves and “choose beautiful” is misleading and silly. The thing is that body image is more than just personal choice. It’s a societal issue with a historical context. It wasn’t created out of nowhere. Give some credit to the women who deal with these problems, we already tried to choose beautiful. It didn’t work. This also shifts the responsibility and the focus from the strong societal powers that make women hate themselves to the women who suffer from this system. Meaning: you hate yourself? It’s probably because you didn’t try hard enough to choose beautiful.

3. What’s wrong with average?

By definition, most of us are average. Or, to be more exact, there are just as many of us below the average as there are above it. That’s just the definition of the word “average”. That doesn’t mean that average isn’t beautiful, it totally can be, so why make them into opposites? If most (or all) people are beautiful, then being beautiful is average. I’m guessing Dove chose “average” because a door with a big sign that says “ugly” probably wouldn’t seem as inspiring, but it’s silly nonetheless.

We’re all average on some things, maybe even on most things. Is that so bad? There is something to be said for being realistic and acknowledging that we’re not all the best at everything. And again, there is something very odd about referring to beauty in these terms, which brings me to our last point.

In an alternate universe

4. Why do we keep telling women that they should be judged on looks?

Yes, we should all feel awesome about ourselves, but does it have to come from our looks? Do we all have to feel like the most beautiful people ever? Can’t we think that we look, god forbid, average, but still feel awesome because we’re smart, strong, kind, funny, or talented? It’s okay to feel good about yourself because of the way you look, but it’s also okay not to. It doesn’t mean you have to be pitied or fixed by inspirational commercials.

This just perpetuated the same old idea: what matters about women is their beauty. If you don’t feel beautiful then you’re sad, have low self esteem, and need help. How bout we let women feel good about themselves because of things other than looks? Why isn’t there a “smart” door next to the “average” door? Why not an “awesome” door that we encourage women to walk through? Or maybe a “generous” door?

Does Dove even consider that by constantly telling women that it is essential that they feel beautiful, they are actually making it worse, because they reinforce the idea that your looks is what matters the most? I mean, if they did consider that, it would make a lot of sense. This way they can have their cake and eat it too, have the facade of an empowering, women-positive company, while still getting our money. They can tell us that they just want us to love ourselves. They can tell us that they have the solution for the problem that them and their competitors created. They can tell us that we need to choose beautiful, which means we need to choose Dove.


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