Monday, October 16, 2006

A Noble Campaign

Dove's been running the Campaign for Real Beauty for a while now. Pictures of normal women on billboards, with checkboxes that say things like "Fat or Fab?" I support the idea behind the campaign, but haven't really agreed with the delivery. I'm not a moron or an easily-influenced teenager with self-esteem problems, so I'm well aware of the fact that advertising and marketing portray unattainable ideals. Be it flawless models or flawless pizzas (not to compare the two), it's never the way it's advertised.

My problem with the original billboards is that they had the possibility of being demeaning. I have very little faith in human beings. Putting an average-sized woman on a giant billboard and asking people to visit the dove site and voting on if she's fat or fab had disaster written all over it. The vote tended to stay around 50/50. The fact is, that despite knowledge that body image is being manipulated by the media, people still have become accustomed to what "beautiful" is in our society... so a woman, who, let's say, is 5'7" and 150lbs seems "fat" when put in the context of advertising.

All this is a lead up to this link. I think Dove got it right with this one. In walks a woman, seems perfectly average. You work with her, she's your neighbour, etc.. No makeup, no fancy clothes, nothing done with her hair, and from the brief full-body view, in decent shape, but not uber-skinny or scary-athletic. The lights are harsh and show all the blemishes. Over the next minute, she's transformed... a flurry of hands apply makeup, do her hair, change the lighting, and take the picture. Then this photo of a model-perfect woman is dropped into an image-editing program and further altered. Finally it all appears on a billboard, the original woman is replaced by this image of "perfection" -- a woman who doesn't really exist.

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