A response to a response to Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign

17 Apr

My brilliant sister in-law linked to this blog post today. It’s a response to Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign (you know, the thing I posted about yesterday).

I think it’s great. I did notice that the video celebrated a conventional definition of beauty. I also noticed that most of the women in the video were white. I’m annoyed that when people think of beauty they think of looks. And I’m enraged that we’re taught that looks are so important–sometimes (oftentimes) more important that confidence, strength, intelligence, gusto, creativity. All of the points made in the blog post are great and INCREDIBLY important.

But here’s the thing. This is a 6:36 Dove video we’re talking about. This is not a women’s studies course. It’s not a book. Broadening the scope of their experiment would be chaos. The explicit message is good (great, even). It’s the meta-messages that are upsetting.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer in making conscious, inclusive decisions across the board to invite change into societal standards–to change norms. That means videos like this certainly should include a more diverse group of women (and men!). The video also could have been edited with less of an emphasis (or no emphasis at all) on words like “skinny” and “thin” as (in jazzylittledrops‘ words) “implied positive” descriptors and crows feet, moles, scars, and fat as implied negative descriptors. Because who says that certain things are positive/beautiful and certain things are negative/ugly? (Society, that’s who! But anyway…)

So, what I’m saying (in circles) boils down to this: jazzylittledrops, YOU’RE RIGHT. But this Dove project can only do so much. And from what I can tell on my Facebook wall, it’s been very moving to a lot of women. I just hope they take it at face-value (ha!) like I did.

UPDATE: In my (beautiful, intelligent, creative) mom’s words, “If it makes us aware that we aren’t fair to ourselves, more power to it.” Well said.

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