Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Dove Real Beauty" - Patyn Gillam

As I’m sure most people have seen since it went viral recently: the Dove Real Beauty Sketches (click to watch if you haven’t seen it). Now, I understand the message Dove is pushing: that our toughest critics are ourselves. However, I think this ad campaign does more than send that message. It reinforces the hegemonic ideology of what we see as “beauty” in Western culture; in fact, it relies on this hegemonic ideology to get the message across. By having two pictures, they are subtly creating a binary between what is “beauty” and what is not; there is no “beauty” without an equal and opposite “ugly”. One woman relates being fatter in her picture as she described herself with being sad. The video focuses on the Eurocentric ideal of “beauty” by focusing mainly on three Caucasian women. They are young and thin, with general facial features that fit our model of what “beauty” is (i.e., big eyes, small nose, nice smile, good bone structure, etc.). Other racial groups are either excluded or given very little screen-time, but only if they fit our Eurocentric ideal. The two African American women that are briefly shown are mostly light-skinned with facial features that resemble the hegemonic ideal of beauty. The repertory of images representing beauty in this video isn’t as diverse as Dove would like us to believe. Where are the old, fat, big nosed, squinty eyed people? Where are the people with different racial and ethnic backgrounds? Where are the men? But good try, Dove. I understand the difficulties regarding the paradox of marketing skin products to women trying to make themselves more beautiful, while at the same time trying to send the message that you’re already beautiful.

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