Pursuit of Beauty

It should come as no shock that the prevalent American culture puts a high value on the sexual identity of a woman. How sleek, slender and fierce she looks in order to complete her job or attract a significant other. Well this afternoon I was using Google to try and find something I had watched a few nights ago on Youtube before I went to bed and I stumbled across another article. Stop posting that Dove ad: “Real Beauty” campaign is not feminist over at Salon.com. Simply because I read “not feminist” in the tagline, I had to read it. *note* I’m linking to it to cite my inspiration for this article, this is not an endorsement of the article.

Iread it and I was laughing at the outrageous and broad brush strokes that the author uses in her writing. In short, this is an advertising campaign for Dove products, aimed at boosting women’s self esteem rather than her sex appeal.

If you haven’t seen this advertisement yet, have a peek.

Based on this advertisement and the over sexualization of media, I would dare ask the author, what is wrong with this ad? How is it not feminist?

Feminism is the advocacy of equality in women’s rights, this can be achieved through political, economic, and social equality. Through the branch of social equality, shouldn’t women be able to have self-respect for themselves and have the self confidence to reach their highest potential without continuously being told to change? Isn’t part of feminism taking hold of yourself and looking at those telling you to change and say “I am proud to be who I am and you should treat me equally”?
Johannes Vermeer - The Milkmaid

I am a fan of classical art and have noticed how the conception of beauty has changed. The woman that Johannes Vermeer painted above is a healthy, active woman who would have been thought very attractive in his day. Today she would be overweight or obese and unfashionable. But how is she different from the modern everyday woman who Dove chooses to showcase in their advertising? This milkmaid is going about her daily work for her home and family or her local dairy farm and not needing to care if she fits the right image of how people perceive her.

I work with many young women who have an outstanding perspective of their self image. I have worked with other young women who try to change themselves for the chance that the “right person” will notice them. I find this ad an affirmation that all women are more beautiful than they perceive themselves to be.
As for myself, I’m not the over 35 woman with a library card that the article’s author describes, (I’m 27 with a library card) but success and determination should be determined by each woman. The stay at home mom has the same level of equality as the high level CEO. A struggling single mother has the same rights and equality as the woman whose income with her husband allows her Gucci and Prada merchandise. The beauty of this ad shows that although it’s true that many women have self-esteem issues, the image that a woman sees of herself can be vastly different than how someone else sees her. That sometimes the biggest struggle for equality comes from within herself.

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2 thoughts on “Pursuit of Beauty”

  1. I think that the message that we have hidden criticisms of ourselves, especially as women, is definitely pro-woman/feminist. I think the critiques is that we are obsessed with beauty as a defining characteristic of a Valuable Woman.
    As a human quality I think this is a recognition of the inner harmony of Creation. However, in a materialistic setting that has decided it dislikes most moral categories, there is nothing to “flesh out” the notion of beauty as a multi-dimensional, spiritual truth. So women are right back under the thumb of sexual oppression: we have to be “pretty” to be valuable.
    The Dove ad is not bad, but it does sort of leave unchallenged the idea of prettiness = value by sort of saying, “Hey women, you are much prettier than you think!”
    That was my take on the criticism, anyway.

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