Fiona’s Blog: There’s Nothing Real About These “Real Beauty” Campaigns

By | October 25th, 2011 | 2 comments

Although at first it appears that companies like Dove and Bare Minerals have taken a step in the right direction by running “Real Beauty” campaigns, there’s often nothing real about them.

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.

2 Responses to “Fiona’s Blog: There’s Nothing Real About These “Real Beauty” Campaigns”

  • Melissa says:

    I completely agree with your post. Have you ever noticed that pretty much every person (especially women) we see in any form of media has perfectly white, straight teeth? I’ve always had crooked teeth and they have never been gleaming white. The fact that I never see any women with imperfect teeth (unless they represent a drug addict or homeless person) only adds to my insecurities about my own teeth.

    I find the whole ‘plus-size model’ term deceiving as well. Most of these women have nearly perfect proportions and are generally average size, at best. I guess they are plus-sized relative to a typical runway model, but don’t actually wear what clothing manufacturer’s and consumers consider plus sizes (over size 14, I think?).

    I suppose we must consider that although these marketers are going with a ‘socially responsible’ or ‘real-life’ angle, they are just that — Another method to market and sell products or images, and to try to capture a more substantial demographic.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I never noticed the teeth, but now that I think about it, you’re completely right! As for “plus sizes,” most plus size models would appear average if we just saw them walking down the street in normal clothes–something that can’t even be said about the women in the Dove ad above. If I saw any of those women on the street, I would consider them quite fit, thin, etc.

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