Dear Dove: Women are more confident than you think

In the past week, I’ve become even more of an anomaly than I already was, being a fresh-faced journalist still hopeful that gun control will pass and convinced she’s going to be the new Batgirl.

200px-Yvonne_Craig_Batgirl
Barbara Gordon approves as long as I get my own jazzy outfit.

Dove recently released a new ad campaign that intends to tell women, as Huffington Post put it, “You’re more beautiful than you think.”

Obviously, I have a few bones to pick when it comes to this ad (why else would I be blogging about this? Who blogs about things they agree with?). Some issues have already been expounded upon by countless other web sources, most notably by New York Magazine’s The Cut. According to them, the ad makes it seem like beauty should be above all else. I don’t necessarily agree with that stance, but I can see that the Dove ad places all emphasis on physical appearance. That’s because Dove is selling products to improve self-image, not intelligence, wit or kindness.

Dove’s previous attempt to attract the “real woman” with the “Real Beauty” ad worked because all the women in it were average-build and looked genuinely happy about it. They’re smiling, laughing having fun. This could be just really good acting work, but in any case, it makes you feel good looking at it compared to Victoria Secret’s “Love my Body” anorexia promotion campaign:

To the mom of the ten-year-old transfixed by the Victoria Secret window poster: it's not the puppy he's staring at.
The Victoria Secret models don’t even seem to like each other. On a yoga note, those two tree poses are pathetic.

In the new ad, average women are lumped together in a different way. The “Real Beauty” ad showed that women can have self-esteem without looking like Miranda Kerr. The new ad just shows that Dove is really good at finding women with poor self-image.

Which is where I come in as an apparent anomaly in this world. If a forensic artist asked me those questions, here’s what he’d get from me:

I have brown eyes, average-sized and almond shape. Light brown eyebrows. My nose has a bit of a bump in the bridge, and it’s a little bigger than average. My lips are small. I have really round cheeks. My ears are pretty big and stick out a little. I have a three-finger-high forehead. My hair’s very fine, dark brown and cut to my chin. I’ve got broad-ish shoulders and a mid-length neck.

And you know what his sketch would look like? This:

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OK, maybe not. I just love Lady Mary from Downton Abbey. It would probably look more like this:

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GOOD. THAT’S WHAT I LOOK LIKE.

Because I wouldn’t deprecate myself when describing what I look like to the stranger behind the curtain, Dove wouldn’t have hired me for this ad (but Funny or Die might want to add me to their spoof, “Real Beauty Sketches: Men”). Instead, Dove looked for women who think little of themselves. Because of that, how can we assume they’re not just projecting their own self-esteem issues to describe the other women as more beautiful than they really are?

I applaud Dove for taking a chance and approaching a new audience; I know there are women out there who have low self-esteem and were positively affected by the ad. I am one of the lucky ones surrounded by family and friends who consistently promote me to myself, and I’m sorry to say that their kind words and compliments have all gone to my head.

But I also know I’m not alone, so Dove’s action of lumping all non-model women together is just as false as Victoria Secret lumping all models together for the “Love My Body” campaign. So, dear Dove: We are women, we are strong, and we are more confident than you think.

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