Fiona’s Blog: There’s Nothing Real About These “Real Beauty” Campaigns
When I see an ad that claims to feature real women, yet the woman are still remarkably flawless, it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. At least when I see a model in an advertisement I can tell myself that the way she looks is fake, enhanced by photo shop, and probably required harmful eating practices. When I see an ad that claims to be “real” or represent “average women,” yet not a single woman weighs over 140 pounds (the average weight of an American woman) I can’t help but feel as if I’m imperfect, and the rest of the world is flawless.
The fact is that “real beauty” campaigns may show beauty, but they don’t show truth. The campaigns often try to make a big deal about showing us imperfections, but the “imperfections” are rarely hard to look at as they’re usually tiny crow’s feet wrinkles, A cup breasts, or even freckles! I’m still waiting for the ad campaign that shows young women with pimples, old women with real wrinkles, or a woman with stretch marks on her breasts. Flaunting minor imperfections hardly helps the average reader, watcher, or listener feel better about herself.
The media lies to us when they show us photoshopped pictures, but at least we know they’re fake. What troubles me is when magazines and companies try to convince girls and women that what they’re seeing is real—like the many magazines that have featured celebrities “sans-makeup.”
Finally, many of these campaigns focus on excluding one element of the editing and production process. Sometimes it’s no makeup, other times it’s no photoshop, but it’s never everything at once, making sure that we never have to see a woman in—God forbid—her natural form.
I understand that a picture of a woman with acne doesn’t sell lip-gloss, but I’d rather companies were honest with their viewers about what we’re seeing, rather than trying to force an image of reality on us, that many of us may confuse for the truth.
Bare Minerals’ recent ad campaign reads, “We set out to find the world’s most beautiful women. And we found them…without ever seeing their faces.” Bare Minerals’ models are interesting women. They’re doing great things and their stories are inspiring, but Bare Minerals is not being entirely truthful by saying they never saw their faces. The casting call was for actresses (who were probably chosen by their agents), not anyone, and after the actresses had been “whittled” down to a whopping 78, they did meet with casting agents to choose the final five. Bare Minerals claims to have cast average women based solely on their accomplishments. I applaud Bare Minerals for choosing these inspiring women, but these women were chosen for their bodies, faces, hair, and accomplishments, and we can’t forget that.
I’ve always said that any step in the right direction, no matter how small, is important. But, I feel that by portraying their campaigns as more authentic than they actually are, companies like Dove and Bare Minerals are actually doing a great disservice. Real beauty campaigns are really beautiful, but they’re also really misleading.
Fiona Lowenstein is a high school senior, weekly guest blogger and Girls Leadership Institute alumna. Read more of her work here.