We all remember Dove's breakthrough commercial, "evolution," which demonstrated the media's miraculous special effects and how an average-looking (OK, above-average) Jane can be transformed into a stunning glamazon with the help of a little Photoshopping. You know -- make her eyes as big as saucers, elongate her neck to giraffe-like proportions, pump up her hair, lips, EVERYTHING! Make it all bigger, better, prettier. This is how so many women become hooked on attaining a goal that is not only unrealistic and unnecessary, but flat-out unachievable.
The company is at it again, with a new hard-hitting video called "Onslaught," part of their Campaign for Real Beauty. As I watched the film this morning, a wash of emotions came over me: sadness, anger, disgust...and hope.
It's a minute-plus montage of pictures showing women as objects, women dancing seductively in videos, women on scales, women having their faces slashed and breasts cut open by surgeons. It is our lives as females in fast-forward: everywhere we look, billboards and bus-stop ads tout mages of "the perfect figure." Commercials promise up their products can erase our "flaws" -- wrinkles, freckles, age spots, muffin tops, cellulite. Products pledge to make us lighter, darker, thinner, bustier, smoother, plumper (in the right spots) and flatter in others.
I watched this video and I thought, "This is my life. This is the life of so many women I know." Constantly bombarded with images of women being objectified, degraded and put down. Like this new, potentially NSFW German ad -- it's for a career fair at a technical school. Or rapper Nelly's music video, Tip Drill, in which he swipes a credit card though a woman's ass as if she were a product to be charged. Or this lovely Dolce & Gabbana ad.
Some people have expressed concern that Dove's ad is hypocritical, because the company is owned by Unilever (makers of Axe body spray, for example). True, those ads depict women as mindless twits, attracted by a spray of high-school cologne and ready for the taking. But (a) I think Axe is being playfully hyperbolic, poking fun at themselves and other beauty campaigns like them who take themselves too seriously and (b) why blame Dove for another company's adverts? Dove is stepping up doing something to help revolutionize the way women and men look at the media, to change the impact these ideals have on the little girls of America. Their work gives me hope that change can happen, viral film by viral film.
Please watch this video -- watch it over and over again, alone and with your children. Send it to friends, to mothers. Watch it until you can say out loud with a slight sense of relief and a healthy dose of anger, "No wonder our society is so messed up." Because it is, we are, and it needs to stop before more innocent young girls like the strawberry-blonde in "Onslaught" sacrifice themselves to the altar of the scale and the toilet, with images of "perfection" dancing in their brilliant minds.
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is at www.campaignforrealbeauty.com