Real Women Have Curves

Update: The campaign has gone into second gear. I saw a commercial featuring young girls (pre-teens, early teens) who didn't like something about themselves, their freckles, their hair, etc. Dove calls the campaign Uniquely Me, and the goal is to eliminate low self-esteem (due to appearance?) in girls and, utlimately, women. From their website:

"92% of girls want to change at least one aspect of their appearance. Dove believes all girls deserve to see how beautiful they really are and is committed to raising self-esteem in girls everywhere. That's why we created the Dove Self-Esteem Fund."

Good start. Will the idea catch on? As long as it sells soap, I doubt that they care. How cynical is that?

Dove Real Beauty Campaign video - Interesting piece.

I really love this campaign! These women were all over the BART station--and San Francisco, for that matter. Bigger than life posters of individual models draped the station's large columns, and the group photo above seemed to be on every available billboard in The City. It was awesome and, I think, beautiful.

Here's my favorite shot. She's the one on the far right of the group. Her name is Stacy Nadeau, and I absolutely love this pose. It's cute, coltish, coy, and fun.


Stacy Nadeau

I have to say, though, that it was a bit of a shock at first to see these six curvy ladies in their underwear, all looking very pleased with themselves and their bodies. It struck me as bold, but very sexy. Oddly, this Sun Time article** cites comments from men who were not attracted by the women or the ad. "Too much, literally" was one comment. But I think they're awesome! Just shows how brainwashed men are that female beauty can only take one form: the scowling, anorexic super-model. How hard that must be for real women, young and mature. Though it's an ad to boost sales of their products, this Dove ad is something of a mirror to our stereotypes and an attempt to shift them closer to reality, the reality that real women have curves. I hope it takes off, if only so I can see more of these and other curvy women.

CampaignForRealBeauty.com

Also see Why I Hate Beauty.

Here's a very popular Dove film called Evolution. It takes a real woman and in a 60 second time-lapse photography, transforms her into a supermodel face on a billboard - the evolution.

"A Dove Film - Evolution"


Here's an interesting response to Dove's Evolution film. It's called Revolution:

A Response to Dove's Evolution - Revolution

And still another parody called Slob Evolution:

A Response to Dove's Evolution - Slob Evolution

Dove pro-age Werbespot deutsch

Makeup Makeovers: Expert Secrets for Stunning Transformations

Ad Campaign a Real Knockout - from Chicago Sun Times
(Link died so read cached copy below)

July 19, 2005

BY MAUREEN JENKINS Staff Reporter Advertisement

The billboards are sassy. Bold. So in-your-face they dare you to ignore them, whether you're rolling down the Tri-State Tollway or waiting for the L at the Merchandise Mart.

And there's nary a supermodel or celebrity in sight.

Just six real-sized, differently shaped women in white bras and panties. Grinning. Posing. And looking real comfortable in their own twenty-something skins -- rounded stomachs, full thighs and all.

For the past few weeks, Dove has blitzed major media markets like Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C., with its "Campaign for Real Beauty," a series of Ogilvy-created print, TV, billboard and mass transit ads marketing director Philippe Harousseau says are designed to "make more women feel beautiful every day by broadening the narrow and stereotypical view of beauty."

The second phase of a Dove campaign launched last September, these spots have shaken up the industry by featuring real women with generous curves -- and not airbrushed ones, either. Beyond merely generating hype (and, of course, selling products from Dove's Firming collection), the ads are designed to boost women's self-images and, as Harousseau says, show that "real beauty can be genuinely stunning."

And talk about great tag lines: "Let's face it, firming the thighs of a size 2 supermodel is no challenge." And "New Dove Firming. As tested on real curves."

"If it's meant to change perception, you have to say to yourself, 'I've never seen a chorus line of women that looks like this,' " says Margot Wallace, a marketing communication professor at Columbia College Chicago and former creative director at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide.

"Advertising is supposed to be easy; it's not supposed to be too challenging," she says. "This challenges your expectations. It's provocative in the best sense of the word."


Gina Crisanti

Knowing the ads would spark debate, Harousseau says, "It was important to create a hub where we want to invite women to come and debate and join our campaign." The campaign's interactive Web site welcomes consumers to share thoughts, upload their own photos (nearly 2,000 have so far) and sign the Dove Real Beauty Pledge Book, which raises funds for self-esteem-boosting programs like uniquely ME!, aimed at girls 8 to 14.

Dove knows its ads "make some people uncomfortable," Harousseau says. "Some people are surprised, even shocked. ... We decided to bring this campaign to life because the survey told us women were ready for it."

Wallace agrees: "Advertising doesn't create trends; it follows them. There's been a huge switch in advertising thinking -- first find out what the customer wants, and then give them that."

What's clear about the Dove ads, she says, "is that these are happy people. They're enjoying life and enjoying their own good time. That kind of positive attitude deserves to stick around for a while."

Dove model and Chicago transplant Lindsey Stokes, 22, didn't hesitate for a minute when asked to appear in the unretouched ads. Approached at her part-time job at the Gap at 555 N. Michigan, this Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago fashion design grad says the spots were "nothing to be ashamed of. Obviously, you have issues growing up. I'm finding as I'm growing older, I'm becoming more comfortable in my own skin.

"We're real women; we have real curves," continues Stokes, herself between a size 8 and 10. "We're all different, but we're all universal, you know what I mean?"

Reserve billboards for the unattainable

One word comes to mind when I see those Dove ads -- disturbing. And disturbing quickly morphs into frightening when I see the ad while waiting for the L at the Merchandise Mart. There -- in all of their 4-foot-high glory -- are the ladies of Dove more lifelike than I'd like to see in my advertising.

Really, the only time I want to see a thigh that big is in a bucket with bread crumbs on it (rim shot here).

I realize these ads aren't targeted to men. As a matter of fact, I haven't used a firming cream in years. But they are everywhere for everyone (including men) to see -- from L stops to buses to roadside billboards. And they are producing lots of chatter and water cooler talk.

Most men don't like the ads. For them, the ads are just showing a little too much -- literally.

"I wouldn't exactly call them models," said Phil, 30, of Chicago, who smartly declined to give his last name.

"Yikes," was all Kevin, 22, of Evanston, could muster after looking at the ads.

But don't be quick to judge me as "a typical man" who buys into the myth that all women are a size 0 and never use the bathroom. I just prefer that "real people" never pose in ads -- especially not in their underwear. That goes for men and women.

A colleague pointed out to me that he has no problem with the ads and that the scantily clad women are attractive. He said the problem is we expect ads always to show only the most beautiful women. He claims if the Dove 6 put on clothes (please, really) and were in a Chicago bar, they'd be considered attractive.


Sigrid Sutter

It's like standing someone who you think is tall next to a basketball player. Do that, and your pal ends up looking like a dwarf.

[YES! See Why I Hate Beauty for more.]

I get that it's all relative, but that's all the more reason why they shouldn't be on a billboard. See, ads should be about the beautiful people. They should include the unrealistic, the ideal or the unattainable look for which so many people strive. That's why models make so much money. They are freaks -- human anomalies -- who need to be paid to get photographed so we can gawk at them.

I see "real people" all the time. I don't need "real people" to sell me things. I'm a "real person" and I don't want to see me on the side of a bus -- and trust me, in my underwear neither do you. (And speaking of underwear, what's with the lingerie these women are wearing? It's like Sears catalog, circa 1983.)

But what bothers me most about the ads is the hypocrisy. The folks at Dove want us to embrace our "real beauty" and love who we are no matter what we look like. If that's the case, why are they selling firming cream?

Hopefully, Dove will come back to its senses and make my morning commute -- and Phil's and Kevin's and that of countless other men -- a little more pleasing to the eyes.

Ads a hit with these women:

Dove is using the CTA Brown Line L stop at the Merchandise Mart for "targeted domination" -- and its Firming ads blanket the station's platforms. We asked female L riders for their reactions:

"I think they're pretty cool to see. One thing that's important is not to lose sight that skinny women can also be natural. Women of all sizes need to embrace women of all sizes. I think they're really beautiful ads." -- Kelley Rutherford, 27, of Ravenswood (in marketing)

"I think they showcase real women and help with self-esteem for all women. For people who are product switchers, this would be an effective tool. [The ad] definitely stands out." -- Eileen Tan, 28, of Lincoln Park (in advertising research)

Likes the ads "because I'm a real woman and I think I have great curves. It's nice to see advertising that represents the majority of real women who have meat on their bones. I love it!" -- Bridget Schank, 28, of Lincoln Park (University of Chicago public policy student)

"I noticed it as soon as I got off the L. [Dove model Lindsey Stokes] is beautiful, and doesn't look like Gwyneth Paltrow -- the usual svelte blond. More people are built like [Lindsey], and she's gorgeous." -- Diane Grassel, 59, of South Loop (home accessories sales representative)

"It grabs people's attention. It's more realistic because it's real women using these products -- it's not anorexic robots using them. It would get me to buy [the product]. It's definitely a positive thing." -- Sandra Karac, 21, of Skokie (interior designer)

"I love them. Absolutely. I literally don't know anyone who looks like a model -- all my friends and family look like these [Dove] models. Their bodies are really being celebrated rather than hidden." -- Linda Effinger, 44, of Lakeview (software company executive)

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Tara- 24 — 02 April 2007, 21:37

Models are well known as individuals that portray beauty. I personally have the most respect for these women who were willing to show the world their most self-conscious flaws. Who really wants to do that? I am a firm believer in mind and body health. I go to the gym regularly and watch what I eat (well, I try). These women are normal. There are too many women, young and old starving themselves, and even dying just because they don't feel good enough in their own skin, they want the perfect body. A lot of men seem to be against the dove models, and I think it's because they do not realize the extent of the problem adult/ teen girls face in life. Too many models have eating disorders and drug problems. Behind the beautiful face hides a sad, sick girl. Is that beautiful? Is that what you want your daughter someday to think is beautiful? It's very sad. I am not against attractive models at all. I've done modeling before, but I didn't stop eating to get thin, I watched what I ate and worked out. I just think that if ribs are showing, you need to eat a friggin burger! That's way more apalling than a thick model. However, on the other hand, I do think that a lot of people need to be more aware of their health, such as cholestrol levels and heart disease. To me, you have to have a healthy mind before you can have a healthy body, though and that's what these women I think are saying.

ashley — 06 November 2007, 12:30

I think that these ads are great! more women need to understand that when they see these thin models on tv that they dont have to look like them at all...i have a couple friends who are completely gorgeous but becuase they arent tiny they dont think that they are beautiful. Its hard in todays world because even if you are thin people could think that you have an eating disorder. me and my younger sister are both very thin but that is how we are built but in highschool we were both accused of being anorexic so even if you are skinny you may still not have the perfect body....what are you supposed to do if no matter how you look you will never be perfect?

Brent — 06 November 2007, 12:50

Thanks, Ashley...After conversations with my wife and sisters, I've concluded that it's very hard for a woman to feel beautiful in this culture. Our definition tends to be so narrow, so "Madison Avenue." We need to expand on our cultural view of beauty...Or maybe reduce the value we place on physical beauty. I discuss these ideas further in Why I Hate Beauty.

Thanks for your comment, Ashley!

Crystal — 27 March 2008, 07:15

I think the Dove ads are great, we need to move away from this image that we have given to young women, thats is "if your not a bone rack, your fat" what is with that? If you go to the beach you will see a lot of women that are a lot of shapes and sizes. Now don't get me wrong, we should promote keeping ourselves healthy, I weigh 107 lbs, and I go to the gym, staying in shape leads to a good healthy life, HOWEVER when I see a girl next to me that weight 175lbs, the first thing I think is good for her, shes watching her health. Beauty in my mind is defined by being a real person, not a plastic barbie doll, there is nothing less attractive then being fake! Next time you look at a Dove ad, think of your mother, or your daughter, or your sister on that billboard, you think they are beautiful right? So why not these women?

Jane — 24 April 2008, 09:55

Could they conduct their Campaign for Real Beauty with their clothes on?

Brent — 24 April 2008, 13:48

Hmmm...Interesting point. Perhaps, but I think the campaign got everyone's attention in large part (pardon the pun) because the models were scantily clad, yet still looked great. Not original but effective.