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What is wrong with this video?

By now many people should have seen the following video.

This video is part of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  The video supposedly explains what has made people’s idea of beauty very distorted.

What is wrong with this approach?  If Dove is trying to convey that short of fakery, there would not be beauty, then this can easily be falsified.  One need only come across one very good looking person in real life.  Even when one looks at babies, some are very good looking whereas others are not, and this doesn’t have to do with make-up, airbrushing, dieting, exercise or plastic surgery.  If the message is falsified, then the messenger loses credibility, and this increases the risk of reinforcing the belief the messenger is trying to counter. 

I believe that it is better to educate girls and women about what most people find optimally attractive in women, and explain why this is strikingly at odds with respect to fashion world imagery regarding an important correlate of beauty, namely the extent of femininity.  Whereas this approach is not consistent with maximizing body acceptance, there is obviously a limit to the extent of body acceptance than can be engendered, and as nature would have it, what most people find optimally attractive in women corresponds to health, fertility and fecundity, which cannot be acquired by indulgence in negative health behaviors.

Note that Dove focuses on superficial aspects such as make-up, hairstyling and airbrushing in the model, but not the important issues of why most high-fashion models tend to have masculinized faces and very thin bodies.  The answer is important information if one were attempting to reduce the incidence of unnecessary dieting among girls and women.



I agree, it is about masculinization. Perhaps it all started with women wanting to compete with men. Wanting to have "strong faces" and the "strong boned face" ideal.
Being soft and feminine is rejected as being weak and passive. If you look at the highest powered business women, they become more and more like men as you go up the ladder.
More masculine faces, shorter hair, men's like business suits and accessories, masculine mannerisms and business attitudes, etc.
No wonder men are confused. Opposites truly do attract.

Twix: An overrepresentation of masculinized women among higher status business individuals does not necessarily imply a rejection of the feminine. This phenomenon could easily be accounted for by the selection of masculinized women rather than discrimination against feminine women because masculinization increases the likelihood of possessing the traits (e.g., drive, ambition) that are required for success in business management. Short hair and dressing in men’s clothing are not the important variables but the physical masculinization of these women is.

b/c ambition is a male trait.

erik, you will get gang raped by men.

Ah, Erik, glad to know you got my email- I saw your discussion with Sarah in another thread. This is internetchum again, it's just been close to a couple of weeks now.

8D: Don’t use multiple aliases (e.g., The Donald). Ambition is also present in women though some types of ambition are more common in one sex.

fdfssf: I got two emails from you, and they ask too many questions. It will take me a while to reply.

Hi Erik:

I actually find this video extremely powerful. I don't think Dove's message is that it takes "fakery" to manufacture beauty, but rather, that most of what we see out there (in the form of advertisement, etc.) has been faked and that even the most ordinary woman can be and is greatly enhanced through the use of photoshop techniques, airbrushing, makeup, etc. The message to me is "Real" beauty must start with the real woman...not with something manipulated and digitally enhanced.

I don't think Dove tries to go further than this, ie in defining what real beauty constitutes without all the fakery, but of course most people recognize there are truly beautiful people out there who don't need any help at all to look good. 95% of women know already that they are not in that category.

Based on what I've seen with Dove, they are in no way trying to set a new standard of beauty (feminine or otherwise), but are more geared towards women accepting who they are with regards to weight, skin, hair, etc. Their message will probably not go any deeper than this and so is only effective within certain limits; but any little bit helps.

Sandy: The Dove Evolution film shown above is somewhat incomplete and slightly different from what Dove is showing at its site. At Dove's site, the video is prefaced by:


All this talk about fashion models and extreme dieting. How did our idea of beauty become so distorted?

At the end of the video, Dove argues:


Every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is.

In other words, the problem being addressed is supposedly one of girls wanting to emulate the thinness of models, but the video doesn't address thinness even though the thinness of models is the major issue and the driving force behind the Dove campaign for real beauty.

I agree that real beauty does not need make-up and digital enhancement, but the message at the end is not consistent with acknowledging the existence of real physical beauty.

Encouraging body acceptance, Dove style, unfortunately mostly does not work with girls at risk for indulging in anorexic behaviors. Many of these girls are looking for standards of perfection to emulate, and given the high status of thin high-fashion models, have come to believe that perfection lies in their skinny look. The thinness of the models they observe on the runway is real, not faked. To counter this influence, Dove has to either convince them that people find all body sizes equally acceptable or that most people do not find the typical thinness of high-fashion models desirable. The first option is not viable since there are likely no individuals who have the impression that society considers all body sizes equally acceptable, and Dove will also need to explain why fashion models have such a limited range of body sizes if there is no special preference for their thinness. The second option will counter Dove's argument that every girl deserves to feel beautiful and acknowledge that beauty lies within a subset of the physical variation observed among humans. It is for this reason that the body acceptance movement, whereas sounding good, will fail to help those most at risk for developing anorexia.

The proper way to address body acceptance is to encourage people to accept what they cannot change since some change may be possible and even desirable (as in excess body fat not being good for health). People should also be encouraged to capitalize on their strengths rather than brood over their weaknesses/shortcomings.

Beauty is not a myth, we've all seen naturally beautiful people. It's just that most of the people on TV/in magazines aren't. And the ones who are tend to possess a level of perfection that is rarely achieved in nature. This undermines true beauty, making even that "5%" doubtful.

Erik: i think that the overall message of the dove campaign is negative. It is teaching women who are overweight and obese to "accept" their obesity and continue as if they are the most beautiful thing on the planet. But I think normal girls should be promoted, not overweight ones. there's my two cents.

This video does not say anything about why fashion models are so thin, and does not address the slimming problem. Was it supposed to?

great, except what most people "find attractive" is also unrealistic and narrow.

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