Dove makes good stuff. Lotion, mousse, deodorant--quality goods right there. I was downright obsessed with their Regenerating Night Lotion. Man, was I annoyed when they discontinued it!
Know what they did that annoyed me more? Their Real Beauty Sketches campaign.
You know, the one where women describe themselves to a forensic artist in unflattering ways because they have low self-esteem or they've only ever seen themselves in funhouse mirrors or something, and then someone those women just met describes them much more attractively, and OHMYGODIDIDNTKNOWIWASSOBEAUTIFUL ensues.
First of all, the sketch artist is in on it. He already knows the premise and that the women are going to describe themselves in a less complimentary way than the new acquaintances will describe them, so he can uglify and prettify the respective sketches for more shock value.
Secondly, I find it deviously manipulative. Beauty brands are rightfully accused of zeroing in on your insecurities to get you to buy their products, but Dove is doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING--just from a different angle.
But more than anything, it implies that women are in a constant state of self-opprobrium. Do we feel insecure about our appearances? Sure, sometimes. But sometimes we feel freakin' awesome about how we look, perhaps to the point of conceit.
In fact, a recent study by researchers from the University of Virginia and University of Chicago (how'd those guys get together?) completely undermined the Dove campaign.
When the researchers took pictures of participants and Photoshopped them to create both more and less attractive versions, and asked them to identify the unmodified photo of themselves out of the three, the participants--men and women--typically chose the enhanced one.
XO editors got to talking about the contradictions between the Dove campaign and the study via email, which is when Annie chimed in:
Lol the whole time i watched the Dove thing i was thinking what I would have told the artist, "Like, really big, deep, blueish green eyes. SUPER long black eyelashes. Cute nose, GREAT eyebrows. seriously- and big too. Annnd perfectly proportioned forehead... hmm.. cheekbones totally flatter my face, shiny hair with perfect highlights... what else?
She signed it vain4lyfe. HELL YES.
So we called our own artist in to sit behind one of our xoVain backdrops and sketch a few XO editors as they described themselves. And it didn't sound anything like the way women were describing themselves in the Dove campaign. So weird, right?
You won't see me in this video, only because I've known the artist, Eric Winkler, since I was the older woman who hit on him at a Clem Snide concert 11 years ago, so he knows my face really well. But he didn't meet anyone else until after he sketched them.
Here's how it went:
I don't know about you, but I would've been far more likely to share the now hugely viral Dove video if the women had described themselves more like that.
And I'd be more likely to buy Dove products if they'd just stick to telling me why they're good.
How would YOU describe yourself to a sketch artist?