The prolific Dove ad we posted to our site on Wednesday has generated over 15,000 Facebook Likes, hundreds of tweets and 40,000 clicks, so clearly it struck a nerve. We weren't alone - lots of people have been talking about it on lots of websites. Hey, every woman should feel beautiful, right?
Not to come over all flip-floppy but ... we have to ask because it's only fair -
Why is it that women are still being told to evaluate themselves in terms of how they look? And, if we can gingerly approach this part of the equation, why is it that in order to feel worthwhile every woman has to be beautiful? As Tina Fey pointed out in Bossypants, (and I'm paraphrasing here) back in the day not every female had to be hot and that was perfectly acceptable! Maybe we're not as beautiful as we think we are. Maybe we're less beautiful. But wouldn't it be great if we could get to a point where that flat-out didn't matter?
Marilyn Monroe famously said that every little girl needs to be told she's pretty, even if she's not. But when Marilyn was alive a woman's beauty determined not just who she would marry but, by extension, her income bracket and, in some cases, her job. Surely we have evolved from this?
It feels a little like what author Ariel Levy said about a patriarchal, highly commercialised version of female sexuality becoming synonymous with liberation.
How did a woman's beauty become synonymous with empowerment?
To illustrate the absurdity, (and slightly patronising tone) of the ad, one group of people calling themselves NewFeelingsTime got together to make this parody ad about men. Now, we'd like to point out that there are plenty of men who suffer from body image problems - hey, advertising is kind to basically no one. But this ad parody does highlight the ridiculousness of gently coaching someone through acceptance of their looks - via the views of the opposite sex - as if it's the most singularly important part of who they are. We understand that looks matter - that's life in the big city! But could women get just a little bit of distance between 'beauty' and 'self-worth'?