Friday, March 12, 2010

Post #3

When thinking of alternatives to the mainstream images we see in advertising ("the perfect provocateur", according to Corteste, "she is a form or hollow shell representing a female figure. Accepted attractiveness is her only attribute. She is slender, typically tall and long-legged"), I'm sure many of us thought of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (which is good, but goes to show that Dove is one of the few reputable brands that actually have a campaign like this). Most of the images we are confronted with in advertising targets the consumer's insecurities and then offers the solution in the form of a product. The Dove Self-Esteem Fund and Campaign for Real Beauty features women who are opposite of the "perfect provocateur". They are real women with curves, not stick-thin models. They aren't perfect, but they are still happy in their own skin. In Jean Kilbourne's "Beauty and the Beast of Advertising", she says that the hidden message of ads are, "If a woman has great legs, who cares who she is?" But on the front page of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty website, it features women with their names, and their definition of beauty. They aren't hollow shells. They have thoughts and feelings. Dove doesn't feed on the consumer's insecurities.

I haven't followed Dove's advertisements before they came out with the Campaign for Real Beauty, but I'm sure there was a point where they weren't sending out such a positive message. Yet, with their power, they now use their distinguished brand name to promote high self-esteem. In Gloria Steinem's "Sex, Lies and Advertising", she explains that advertisers do want their products to be associated with a certain image. As with the toy train story she provides, "if trains are associated with girls, they will be devalued in the minds of boys." Perhaps this is true to some extend, which is why brands won't take the step to showcase something different, as they are afraid their products will be devalued if they don't associate themselves with the perfect and glamorous, but Dove's campaign gets positive responses, and is still selling their product. If Dolce & Gabanna tries a different, non-offensive to women approach, wouldn't their products still sell? They're already a huge, luxury brand. They could use their power for good!

Another prominent name in the media world, Glamour, has also gone the Dove route. Although they still show skinny models in their magazine, still sexualize women, give diet tips, etcetera, they have taken a step to promote healthy images of women. For example, on page 194 of their September 2009 issue, they featured this picture of a nude size-12 woman:

Editor-in-chief, Cindi Leive, wrote about this photo, "I'd loved this photo at first sight myself--we'd commissioned it for a story on feeling comfortable in your skin, and wanted a model who looked like she was. But even so, the letters blew me away: 'the most amazing photograph I've ever seen in any women's magazine,' wrote one reader in Pavo, Georgia." I think it's great, too! The model (20-year-old Lizzie Miller) is even showing her stretch marks! Something that no other advertiser dare show, even though I think they're so common and normal! A quote that I found pretty funny from "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads": "Where did such widespread afflictions as body odor, halitosis, iron poor blood, gray hair, water spots, vaginal odors, dish pan hands, various small glands, and muscles, and split ends come from?" I think it's so true. Most of these are perfectly normal? Who decided one day that these things were problems? Just as these ideas culminate though, positive ones can develop too! Big conglomerates need to use their power for change. They need to start up campaigns similar to Dove's. They need to use real women in their advertisements-- people who are more than their physical appearance. I suppose it's easier said than done, but it's not a hard feat, either.

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