Dove has done it again. And by “it” I mean they have created yet another patronizing ad campaign that plays on women’s insecurities and reinforces damaging myths that are ultimately harmful and disrespectful to women, all under the banner of “being progressive”.
The newest Dove ad campaign shows women making a choice about which door they should enter a building through – a door marked “beautiful” or a door marked “average”. Which door would you walk through? Most women go through average doors because they don’t see themselves as beautiful. The moral of the ad is that they should walk through the door marked “beautiful” instead, because they are beautiful.
“I just wish more young women realized it” says a mother in the ad who forced her daughter to walk through the “beautiful” door.
It’s supposed to be heart-warming, confidence-building and body-positive.
It’s really not.
Instead, it’s just another bit of media that’s placing far too much emphasis on women being beautiful, as if it’s the most valuable thing we can be.
First of all, beauty is nice, but it’s not important. It should never be what we tie our value to. We should not have to “feel beautiful”, because it should not matter.
There are more important things for women to be and feel than beautiful. We should feel respected, and be worthy of respect. We should feel self-confident about our intelligence, our integrity, and the contributions we make to humanity, society, and the world. These are important things to tie our value and self-worth to, not our looks.
It’s good to be body-positive, but our beauty shouldn’t matter so much to us that we somehow feel less valuable if we do not feel beautiful.
Secondly, what’s wrong with “average”? Average just means that applies to most people. Are most women not beautiful? Is it important to feel like you look better than everyone else before you can feel like your looks are “good enough”?
With this idea that we’re supposed to feel “beautiful” rather than “average”, Dove is telling us that it’s important to feel like we look better than most women do. In this ad campaign, Dove is not only encouraging women to place most of our sense of value and self-worth in our physical appearance, but also actively encouraging us to compete with other women so that we can feel better than them because we’re more beautiful than most “average” women as well.
Thank you for saying I’m beautiful, Dove, but I reject your campaign. I’m not unusually beautiful, I’m average. What’s more, I’m valuable, I have merit, and I’m worth more respect than this patronizing benevolent sexism that you have been trying to feed me in the name of body positivity.