Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Feel Pretty

I have some bad news: the Dove people do not think you're beautiful. They don't think you are ugly, either. In fact (psssht, don't tell anyone), they don't give a rat's flatulence for you one way or another.

Oh, sure, the little Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty" plays a sharp (weaselly) game. That video most of us have seen on youtube sure seems to be mocking the beauty industry by pointing out all the photomanipulation and such that goes into fashion and marketing, and who doesn't want to be told that "beauty" as it has been marketed to us is a myth we can just give up on?

There are a couple of problems with this - first and foremost being the ulterior motives of the Dove corporation itself. Since that whole thing started, it is possible that they've helped a lot of little girls feel better about themselves with their "self-esteem workshops" - but it's absolutely positive that they've made a lot of money."Hmmm... which soap should I buy", we wonder, as a tiny little voice in the back of our heads pipes in and says, "buy Dove! They think we're beautiful no matter what." And have they let up on their photomanipulation in any of their other ads? Have they started using real women? No, of course not.

I read a news article online where the author seemed shocked to discover that Dove had doctored the pictures of the "real" women in its "Real Beauty" campaign. This sort of shock is, I think, just posturing, because we all know that the big multinational soap corporation doesn't give a hoot at an owl convention if we like ourselves or not. In fact, they know that the best way to ensure that we'll buy their product is to convince us that we are not beautiful, and that no one will like us until we buy their product.

So why all the posturing? Why are they pretending to care about us? Why do we (at first) pretend to believe them? And why are we pretending to be shocked when the mythology falls apart?

My guess is that we're all aware that our cultural conceptions of beauty are sad, stupid, silly, ugly game. We're caught in the maze of it and we don't know how to get out, because there is one thing we absolutely must have: LOVE. In our hearts, we know it's a sham, but we are afraid that no one else knows its a sham and if we stop playing the game, we'll just end up being losers. And nobody loves a loser - we learned that in kindergarten.

The Dove people want to believe that they're not evil. We want to scapegoat the evil corporations (or all the stupid people who believed them), but the truth of the matter is that we all believed them at some point, and we could all just stop. Seriously. Quit. We don't need the makeup. We don't need the clothes or the toys or any of the other garbage. We are beautiful, just by dint of being human, and we most definitely don't need some corporation to tell us so. We can love ourselves. We can see our own beauty, without an ad campaign.

Even if we did this thing, it would be a long while before we stopped finding certain types of facial features and bodies more pleasant to look at; but I've got some more bad news: all that stuff we're buying to try to mimic those pleasantries isn't working anyways. Nobody is fooled. Not even us.

So admit it. They don't love us (those faceless corporations), and other people don't love us any more when we become their slaves. We're just going to have to figure out how to love ourselves. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the answer to this puzzle is not to be found inside the doors of a shopping mall.

1 comment:

  1. Thats great... I had not even heard of this "dove" add campaign. Way to break it down though!

    ReplyDelete

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