Hollywood and the fashion world industry seem to work in ways to make people believe that everyone’s bodies always need constant improvement. To change the way society thinks, both trademark brands Victoria’s Secret and Dove separately created campaigns to positively enforce the saying “Be comfortable in your own skin,” but one brand appeared to have received a bit more backlash than the other.

In 2004, Dove’s campaign for real beauty launched, featuring women whose appearances are outside the typical norm of what the fashion industry may portray.  According to Dove’s website, the company performed a study and found that, “only two percent of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.”

The campaign called the “Real Beauty Campaign” started a “global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable,” the website said.

KSC senior Olivia Mendoza said, “I think that the campaign is like a movement for self-esteem, trying to encourage women of all ages to really feel comfortable with their bodies by their own standards and not what society thinks as pretty.”

Michelle Lefebvre / Equinox Staff

Michelle Lefebvre / Equinox Staff

Contradicting Mendoza’s statement were a series of women who performed in a Dove experiment. Dove’s website explains that a forensic sketch artist sat behind a curtain with a woman contestant sitting on the other side (a woman he had never physically seen).

He then asked each woman to describe what she looked like so that he could sketch out what each of their faces looked like, based on their own descriptions of themselves. The artist received comments such as, “I have kind of a fat, rounder face” and “I would say I have a pretty big forehead.”

After the women had left the room, a stranger was then asked to sit and describe the woman the artist had previously sketched. The stranger described what the woman looked like a lot more confidently and when the sketches were shown, each of the stranger’s sketches appeared more attractive than the way the women had originally described themselves.

Senior Melissa Hodgdon said, “I think that everyone finds something wrong with their body because it’s easier to pick on your own self because you know everything about yourself and can pick up on the tiniest flaw.”

In relation to Hodgdon’s quote, Dove picked women who are true to ‘real’ society, in their campaign; they chose women of all different sizes, ages and ethnicity.

While Dove decided to advertise their campaign with ‘real’ women, Victoria’s Secret received a lot of repercussion for launching their “Love My Body Campaign” when their picture advertisement was of their tall, thin models. People took to the Internet, particularly one Blogspot called babygaga.com saying, “Pretty easy to love your body when it looks like those” and “This is an unrealistic depiction of what women should look like.”

Even though Victoria’s Secret seemed to be attempting to display the same message as Dove to society, people act enraged that this brand used models to express their love for their bodies whereas the models do not appear to look like the average woman.

Secondary Education major Meagan Powell said, “These women are known to be perfect because that is their job, they are models. They do not look like anyone we would see walking on the streets or even on campus; everybody is not five-foot-ten-inches and one hundred pounds.”

However, some criticized both Dove and Victoria’s Secret for not accurately displaying ‘real’ women because in Dove’s campaign, curvy women were displayed and in Victoria’s Secret, thin women were displayed.

Mendoza said, “I don’t think either advertisement is showing a real woman because both ads either portray one side of the spectrum to the other. They are basically saying that if you are either skinnier, in between or overweight, you’re considered as nothing.”

Although both trademarks created an effort to change society’s perspective on beauty, their main goal is to advertise for their brand. Dove’s market is geared towards skin care, hair care, body cleansers and lotions.

Therefore, advertising about the body seems to make for a perfect way to lure new customers.

Powell said, “It only makes sense for Dove to do this campaign so that people will buy all of their products that are made for the body. They want people to think that they care about you as a person and then in return you buy and use their merchandise.”

The same may very well go for Victoria’s Secret, who is famously known for their lingerie.

“Victoria’s Secret wants every girl to own one of their bras and by creating this campaign, I would think that this probably helped with sales,” Powell said.

In another research study performed by Dove, “Over twelve hundred ten-to-seventeen-year-olds, a majority of girls, seventy-two percent, said they felt tremendous pressure to be beautiful.”

With encouragement from eminent brands such as Dove and Victoria’s Secret, “This is one major step in making women realize that they are beautiful just being their own unique self and that society is starting to change for the better,” Hodgdon said.


Deanna Caruso can be contacted at  dcaruso@keene-equinox.com

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