I love Tumblr for helping me stay up too late, but best of all, for making me realize how powerful my voice could be. I am not the only one. Recently, Dove came out with a commercial highlighting a study on how women are worst critics of themselves. Dove films women describing themselves to a sketch artist, and then compares the images of descriptions of the same women by other folks. The resulting conclusion is that women are harsh critics of their features and physical characteristics thus showing the need to be more compassionate to ourselves.
This video has become viral within a week of publication, sparking tears from women all over social media. Little Drops has a different interpretation in her response, "Why Dove's 'Real Beauty Sketches' Video Makes Me Uncomfortable … and Kind of Makes Me Angry" that addresses their hypocritical stance on natural beauty.
"When it comes to the diversity of the main participants: all four are Caucasian, three are blonde with blue eyes, all are thin, and all are young (the oldest appears to be 40)."
The video indirectly perpetuates binaries when describing the positive and negative characteristics to the sketch artist. With the soft music playing in the background, the message is that freckles, round faces, and wrinkles are bad while thin noses, thin faces, and light-colored eyes are good.
In my opinion, women do need to be more compassionate about the way they view themselves. Liberation comes from loving ourselves unconditionally, however Dove seems to be selling an idea that only a certain type of beauty is worthy of this compassion. Um, isn't that what the film was supposed to contradict? Again, we see a company attempt to achieve diversity but fall incredibly short.
According to Little Drop's blog post, Dove perpetuates the need for women to feel beautiful in order to accomplish goals in her life. "And actually, it almost seems to remind us how vital it is to know that we fit society's standard of attractiveness." All women are beautiful, no matter what type of body they have: dark skinned, light skinned, round, or thin. The problem is that certain types of bodies are perceived to be attractive while others are not. This has more to do with institutional racism and Euro-centric beauty standards than it does with aesthetics.
Moreover, Dove is literally a name for a white bird. I don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out why the name is a good euro-centric marketing ploy to attract women. Unilever is the company that owns Dove and interestingly enough owns Axe as well. It sounds to me like this "study" is actually a commercial that represents their idea of what a woman should look and act like, based on how sexist their Axe commercials are.
While Dove has been better than most commercials about the definition of real beauty and curves, what we can appreciate most about the Dove study is how brilliant they are at marketing an idea and a product. For now, social media powerhouses like Tumblr can be used as a tool for politically and socially conscious folks to speak their mind about race, class and gender issues.