Thursday, November 19, 2009

beauty is NOT in the eye of the beholder

Though not everyone has an exact likeness in their perception of beauty, there is beautiful and there is ugly; this truth is affirmed throughout Virgina Postrel's The Truth About Beauty. This piece considers cosmetic companies selling "hope in a jar" as opposed to the new campaign from Dove that promotes "real beauty".

Dove's aspiration with this campaign is that women will see that beauty is the child of media and that they will ignore their imperfections, instead finding the beauty in who they are as individuals. The satire in this is that this campaign is coupled with the selling of creams, self-tanners, hair conditioners, and other Dove products. A line can be found on Dove's web site that suggests girls feel beautiful just the way they are, but Postrel explains, "Every girl certainly wants to, which explains the popularity of Dove's campaign. There's only one problem: Beauty exists, and it's unevenly distributed."

We, as human beings, have a preconceived notion of what beauty is, regardless of media or other influence. Certain shapes and features are simply more asthetically pleasing to us. We are biologically programmed to perceive things like good skin and symmetry as beautiful and beneficial in such things as finding a mate. Again Postrel says of beauty: "We know beauty when we see it, and our reactions are remarkably consistent. Beauty is not just a social construct, and not every girl is beautiful just they way she is." If this was true, there would be no need for Dove's "real beauty" campaign and there would most certainly be no reason for Dove's products.

Dove claims to use "normal" and "real" women in their ads, an almost Average Joanna, but while they do not find size 00 supermodels, they find younger women, with feminine features, great skin, and not too undesirable figures. Just because they are choosing women who may not be a typical model in an ad, they are using women who would still be considered pretty and have many attractive traits. Not only were they not ugly girls, but they had been made up with many of the very beauty products renderred unnecessary by Dove's own campaign. Though not everyone has an exact likeness in their perception of beauty, there is beautiful and there is ugly; this is affirmed throughout Virginia Postrel's The Truth About Beauty.


  1. The thing I remember most about this essay was that the author informed us that Dove like "real women" I know what Dove is trying to do, in fact I use Dove becacuse I support their self esteem work shops for young girls and also like their products. Although real women is a good is sort of deceptive right? Like the fact that even though Dove wants the women to look normal, they still are rather attractive, and still focus of norms for women. It was a good try but they still advertise for beauty to be what society sees a beautiful.

  2. I think the deception you speak of is just a confirmed lack of substance in their campaign. While "real women" is a fantastic idea in theory, I don't believe that it is a good marketing campaign because if it was truly successful, they would be out of business.

  3. This world is so shallow. We value looks above almost everything, and even when a company like dove tries to be different and sponser more "normal" types of beauty, it seems to backfire. its a shame.