This has been written about to death, but what’s one more post?

By now, you’ve probably seen Dove’s new ad. (Marketing question – did they even release this ad through traditional media? Or just the internet? JOB SECURITY.)

Too long; didn’t watch: Women describe themselves to a forensics artist who can’t see them, then strangers describe the same women to the same artist, he draws portraits based on both descriptions, and they compare the side-by-side results. The women who described themselves were very harsh, the strangers were positive. The point? “You’re more beautiful than you think.” We are our own harshest critics, all women think they are ugly trolls, but in reality, we’re all gorgeous, so get over yourselves, ladies! In a nutshell.

From the first time I watched this video, it didn’t sit well with me. It seemed so contrived, and while I think it was supposed to leave me feeling inspired or comforted, it didn’t.

I appreciate that Dove is trying to encourage women to get over their self-criticism, but I think what bothers me most is how much emphasis the ad places on physical beauty. I assume they are trying to be progressive – ladies! you’re prefect! [Well, your looks are perfect.] Don’t change!

But they are still using the oldest trick in the book – telling women that they are only worth as much as they are physically beautiful. As long as they are physically beautiful in a conventional way. And of course, playing into women’s insecurities, even if it tries to come across as encouraging you to feel better about yourself.

And it’s missing the more important issue – why are women so hard on themselves? Could it be because a lot of the why is rooted in mainstream media’s portrayal (and emphasis) of conventional female beauty? And Dove is a part of that? Dove advertises in magazines that are a part of that? On mainstream television channels that support that?

Self-esteem is a complicated issue. I don’t expect one video to fix that. (Well … maybe Jean Kilbourne‘s videos can help, or at least start a much better dialogue.)

I will give Dove credit for one part – when one woman says “We spend a lot of time as women* analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite right. We should spend more time appreciating the things that we do like.” I can sort of get on board with that. Sort of because it still assumes that something about you is “not quite right.”

*As women – because men sure as heck don’t do this to themselves to the same extent. I never see my husband or my brothers or my dad looking at a picture of Brad Pitt and saying “damn I need to lose 20 pounds and use better face cream.” Although growing up, I never heard my mom criticize her looks either. (And I’m thankful for that.)

When a brand tries to be progressive, it’s frustrating when it really isn’t, and they still reinforce the emphasis on women’s looks, and other people’s opinions of women’s looks. Once again, we’re getting the message that our looks are what matter. I’m not naive, I know looks are very important, unfortunately. But being reminded of that isn’t very empowering.

What do you think? Yes? No? Tired of this topic?