Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the prettiest of them all?

I finally figured out what was bothering me about the whole concept behind America’s Next Top Model. Tyra Banks says that she wants to promote different types of beauty. While she is doing that in one way, in that there are contestants from various backgrounds as well as winners from different backgrounds, she is also contributing to promoting a certain ‘fake beauty’, too.

The one thing in common with every one of these girls: they have to be perfected in ways that only a model on a photo shoot can be. The show is good in that it shows how girls looking amazing and perfect in pictures look in real life – but it also indirectly promotes the fact that you can look that good and just maybe you should look that good.

So my question is: how do you promote real beauty?

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty is one way that I find amazing. The Campaign uses normal, every day women, each beautiful in their own way but none perfect and air brushed etc. like real models usually are. When I first looked the Campaign up, I was so inspired that I immediately switched to Dove products (thank goodness they have good products!).

It’s been awhile since that day (two bottles of lotion, to be exact) and I decided to look it up the other day to check how well the Campaign must be doing.

What I found confirmed what I have long believed: women are way too hard on themselves. Apparently, “ads featuring thin models make women feel worse about themselves but better about the brands”. Isn’t that crazy? Women see these pictures, knowing they are quite fake, then turn around, work really hard to pay the extra money to get a brand name because it’s going to make them feel better. Talk about being in denial ;).

What about the returns of this Campaign to Dove? “The findings create something of a quandary for marketers, who might have a positive effect on young women’s self-esteem by showing more typical women in ads, but suffer in the marketplace as a result. ‘I’d tend to be cautious about using models in advertising that wouldn’t maximise the attitudes and evaluations of the advertising and the brands,’ said Kees in support of the rational. ‘Certainly [Dove] got a lot of publicity, and it’s a great, innovative campaign. But in terms of the bottom line of how that might be impacting … purchase behaviour, I’m not sure.’”. In the face of such data, you really have to hand it to Dove to stick to their campaign, which has run for five years now.

So what can we do? Because the question isn’t if we have the power to change it; after all: “the succes of a global brand in a local market hinges largely on the brand’s ability to adapt to local needs and tastes”. In other words, what the consumer asks for, the consumer gets. The only problem is that the consumer doesn’t always know how to express what he or she wants, and does easily give into the powerful, all-surrounding and all-encompassing aggressive marketing campaigns that rage all around us. We’re trying to fulfill an innate desire for something, and we figure that if these brands made it so big, then what they are advertising for must be the answer to that nebulous thing inside us telling us to reach for something big that we can’t quite define. The world of marketing has figured out how to use that nebulous thing inside us, sometimes very deviously. We need to learn how to use it, too.

While you figure it out, do give Dove a hand by using their products. And, before anyone asks, no, I am not being sponsored by Dove.

Yet ;).