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Soap ad equates beauty with self-esteem, many applaud

Updated: April 18, 2013, 2:39 PM IST
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Soap ad equates beauty with self-esteem, many applaud
A video posted by Dove on YouTube has revived the debate on beauty being the benchmark for women's self esteem.

New Delhi: An interesting new video posted by Dove on their YouTube channel has revived the debate on beauty being the benchmark for women's self esteem. The Dove campaign states that "women are their own worst beauty critics" and goes on to show a former forensic artist for the San Jose police department sketching women based on their description of themselves and others of them.

The women are seated behind a curtain and the artist has no way of looking at them while sketching. He depends on their description of themselves to sketch a likeness. He then asks others to describe the same woman and draws up sketches based on their observation of her.

Invariably, the second series of sketches are softer and prettier, teaching the women a valuable lesson about how they perceive themselves. 'YOU are more beautiful than you think!' the campaign states.

"Only 4 per cent of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. At Dove, we are committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. So, we decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see," the message says.

The whole experience can be seen here.

The well-executed video, however sensitive, is a reinforcement of the universal theory that a woman's beauty is the ultimate measure of her self esteem. The campaign plays on insecurities ingrained in women over centuries of conditioning that their self worth is only as good as their looks.

Consider reversing the theme of this video, as this hilarious spoof of this advertisement has. Say for example the woman describes her strongest physical attributes confidently and without an iota of self doubt to the artist who sketches them accordingly. Wouldn't that have sent a stronger message to women struggling with health problems such as anorexia and bulimia? Why must women continue to believe that the curve of their chin, the tilt of their nose, their eye colour or the bulge of their forehead make them uglier in a sea of pretty competitors?

While the video means well in its message, it reinforces gender prejudices that campaigns of beauty products have enforced over years. Be it skin lightening products, hair gels or weight loss programmes - ads revolve around a woman's need to be appreciated, to fit in, to not being discriminated against.

Dove, at the end of the day, is more concerned about selling its product. The whole conversation about how a woman perceives herself or others perceive her beauty is pointless if it doesn't include her achievement, struggles, personality traits, sacrifices, triumphs and ethics. Can we have a discussion on that as well please?

But the reaction to the video, that has notched up 6,550,125 views on YouTube, has generally been positive.

User 'iSayMonica' said: "Because people like to label a women's worth by their? appearance. A lot of men are guilty of this, valuing one woman over the other simply because they find her more attractive. A lot of women's trouble with body image is centered around trying to appear appealing to males. It is drilled in young girls minds to have a motive to look pretty IE (barbies, princesses). Both men and women have a pressure to look attractive I agree, but women tend to be held at an higher expectation than men."

"Building the image of the brand through advertisement is just as important and effective if not far more so than actively? attempting to sell a particular product. Especially for a brand that has a clear lifestyle aspect to it," Mikael Kohlmyr said.

User MrJuicyPantz said: The product they are trying to sell is their own brand image, it is essentially to generate discussion and goodwill with intent to have a resonating effect throughout Dove and all their products? as a collective whole. Absolutely brilliant marketing on their behalf.

"It would of been better if the artist wasn't told about the motiv of the project. If they just asked him to draw? them twice, the ad would've been more believable..." said cccandle1.

Katrin Dox: fantastic project?

Mikeyy VELO: That is? a beautiful ad

First Published: April 18, 2013, 2:39 PM IST
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