Over the weekend, Jezebel drew our attention to a Craigslist ad in which the brains behind Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign listed the casting requirements for their so-called “real women.” Among them: no tattoos, no scars, flawless skin, beautiful hair, and bodies that fall nicely between “not too curvy” and “not too athletic.” All their words, not ours. Today, Dove released a statement regarding the ad and, not surprisingly, they’re backpedaling big time.
Dove told StyleList:
“Unfortunately, this casting notice was not approved by the brand or agency team and did not reflect the spirit of the brand team’s vision. We appreciate that this has been brought to our attention, and we are taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future. We believe our images demonstrate that real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and ages and we remain committed to featuring realistic and attainable images of beauty in all our advertising.
Dove is committed to representing beauty of all ages, ethnicities, shapes and sizes, and actively works toward raising self-esteem in women and young girls globally. We have used a variety of women in our images. We have shown women as young as 20 and as old as 95, women with blond hair, red hair, short hair, long hair and no hair; with freckles, without freckles; with wrinkles, with tattoos and real curves.”
They’re right about the variety of women they’ve chosen to feature — in fact, that’s something we pointed out in our post. One of the most widely disseminated images from the campaign includes an African American woman with a large, prominently displayed tattoo on her thigh. So what gives?
Dove may argue that the Craigslist ad may is the work of an agency lackey gone rogue, but we still think the ethos behind it came from somewhere. And despite their well-meaning (or cleverly marketed) efforts, Dove is still a big brand owned by an even bigger brand, Unilever, and at the end of the day, their goal is to make money. And if the head honchos thought they’d be better off with an ever-so-slightly more bland cast of women in their ads, then that’s who they would have put in their ads.
And if you ask us, the only thing we’re wondering now is: what will the new ad campaign look like? We have the sneaking suspicion that Dove will make a concerted effort to feature a scar, or another tattoo, or something to prove how much of a “mistake” the casting call was. And if they weren’t planning on it, they probably should.