A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend an exclusive preview of Dove Canada’s new creative campaign. Always a fan of Dove’s realistic, empowering – and even therapeutic – approach to beauty and beauty advertising, I was excited to be learn about their latest media outreach, sure to be dynamic, informative… revolutionary.
Dove did not disappoint.
A campaign centered around the manipulation of beauty images and how they can affect the way women feel, we were presented with a variety of seemingly harmless photos. For example, take the photo on the right. A model poses for the camera, and even though the picture is upside down, our eyes register an aesthetically-pleasing woman. But what we don’t see is the work of tiny manipulative elves - changing the photo in subtle ways so that our perception of beauty is altered. Want to see what the model looks like right side up?
It’s time to turn your perception upside down.
Seriously, how scary is that photo? Before the event, I thought I knew about digitally altering images. Whiter teeth, a slimmer midsection, perhaps a rosy glow added to the cheeks. Sadly, it appears my knowledge was limited to basic photoshopping – in reality, every pixel is fine-tuned, re-shaped and polished to perfection. The end result? A representation of “beauty” that is impossible to obtain outside a digital artist’s studio.
It’s no wonder that nearly two-thirds of Canadian girls, ages 10-17 (65%), say they feel pressure to be beautiful and that the media is their greatest source of this pressure. Far more distressing: Only 9% of Canadian girls aged 10-17 would call themselves beautiful.
Now in the opening paragraph, I mentioned that the media preview was a few weeks ago. So what took me so long to write this post? Truth is, I struggled with sharing Dove’s message.
Not because I don’t believe it’s valid, or that it’s not incredibly important to share with our youth today. And I certainly commend Dove for exposing the tiny untruths that can lead to exponential issues with self-esteem, self-worth and self-love. In most respects, it’s probably the most valid message in beauty today.
But I suppose the one reason why I didn’t come out guns a’blazing, drafting up an “I believe I’m beautiful and you should too” post is because when it comes down to it, I often still struggle with my own reflection in the mirror. I will look at myself and see the imperfections, mentally tabulating what’s wrong; what’s ugly about me. And most damaging – even though I know magazine images are likely altered, even though Dove has TAUGHT me to see through the manipulation – sometimes I still look at a perfectly airbrushed photo and sigh with envy, holding myself up to an impossibly high standard.
And if I, an established, educated, mature and responsible mother of two can feel this way from time to time, what hope can I give for young women today, who are surrounded by a media-driven pressure to be perfect?
Turns out, Dove’s creative campaign was not lost on me. Because for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking… and changing the way I think.
I’ve been looking at old photos and relishing my lopsided grin. I’ve noticed the tiny wrinkles around my eyes that only appear when I give a huge, goofy smile. I’ve studied the swell of my breasts that come from an extra 15 pounds – yet provide me with the most feminine curves imaginable. I see my chewed fingernails – which frankly, disgust me – but also remind me that I’m imperfect down to the tips of my fingers. But when I look at the entire package – not the closeups, not the glamour shots, and certainly not the “Instagram Makeovers” – I realize that for better or worse, this is the face I put forward every day. This is the body that takes care of my children. And this is the mind and soul that will teach them to love themselves.
And so today I challenge you to turn your perception of beauty upside down. Visit Dove’s Social Mission on Facebook and see why so many women are unhappy with their looks – and how the media in the beauty industry contributes to it. Watch the Dove Evolution video and see what really happens in a digital studio.
Redefine your view of beauty.
Thanks to Dove Canada for extending an invitation to me – a morning well spent with many truly beautiful women. Below, an untouched photo of four glamazons – Karyn from Killer Kurves, Valerie from I’m Charming You, myself and Haley from She Does the City. (I’ve linked their #doverealbeauty posts; take a peek.)