Taking a Look Behind the Packaging

It was suggested that I might want to write about the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.

I’ve thought about it off and on for a while. The phrase “It’s not personal, it’s business” keeps ringing in my head, though, because this, baby, is business.

First, the campaign is brilliant. I relate to a lot of what it suggests about the media and the false ideal of beauty – how beauty is really a thing made these days and not a thing born. It’s an industry, beauty, but so too is advertising.

While I applaud the campaign, and I do rally behind its message, and I do think it’s high time someone said something, I won’t for a second pretend I can’t see some of the hypocrisy of just who’s being the messenger in this scenario.

Dove, a very nice soap indeed, is a Unilever brand. More than 150 million times a day, Unilever’s website states, someone somewhere in more than 150 countries internationally reaches for a Unilever-brand product.

They have a very big network of products – from Dove to Axe Body Spray to pharmaceuticals. They’re a very powerful player in the game of global industry. If their campaign for Real Beauty is serious, if they follow through and begin some kind of movement, then that’s wonderful. But they’re selling us Breyers Ice Cream and then marketing Slim Fast to us to take that ice cream off again. Some of their products have great mandates. Some, however, are perpetuating the very problem they’re pointing a finger at, like Axe Body Spray. If anyone ever used sex and idealized beauty as a sales tool, it’s the folks at Axe.

So, then, knowing full well who’s doing the talking (and, let’s face it, it could be worse) and all that preamble, let’s talk about the message.

It’s about time someone finally pointed out that the ideal of beauty in the fashion industry is more of a, well, let’s call it The Photoshop Factor, shall we? If you’re more pedestrian and like to use your HP Image tools, they’ve been so kind as to dumb down the latest greatest photographic trend. You betcha. It’s the “thinnify” action. Hell, all ya had to do before was reduce the width by 3-7%, but I guess they had to go and create the “reverse the 10 lbs” button.

Let’s face it. If being thin is so hard that not even models can pull it off, so they need to be “thinnified” then how in the hell is the majority of the population gonna pull off the ideal, huh? Who the fuck are they selling to, anyhow? And why are we putting up with it?

Models in magazines were airbrushed for forever. Now they’re CGI’d and gussied up in Photoshop. There is no real beauty. It’s a figment. Boys with their opaque view of sexuality got it into their heads that doing a little thinnifyin’ was the way to go. Oh, and get rid of that scar. No, no freckles. Can we give her a bit of a tan? Green eyes would pop on that skin, huh? Yeah, change it all and have the file uploaded by 3.

It’s a factory, is all. Like the old Heart song goes, they can’t sell ya what you don’t want to buy. You want the unreal beauties. You want the plastic Barbies. Something about a plain ol’ girl with freckles and jeans is too normal for you. So, instead, our media’s littered with false ideals. It’s like a Babylon on the rise. Crazy shit, man. Falsehoods abound, but, hey, the public’s buying.

Demand more. If it means getting behind a corporation that’s doctoring for itself a big ol’ bleeding heart love-thy-fellowman-and-thy-big-ass image, well, it’s probably better than the alternative.

And, sure, some of Unilever’s products sell themselves with sex, but they seem pretty straight and narrow, for the most part. Could be worse, you know, as far as big bad conglomerates go, that’s for sure.

The message in the Campaign for Real Beauty is one that needs to be heard, even if the messenger’s a little on the dubious side.

And while we’re talking about this, let’s mention that one of my readers smartly called me out for saying I needed money to become the person I wanted to become. She said I should know better than anyone that a woman’s glow comes from within, et al. Yes. Well. Perhaps so. I should know, yes?

I also know what it looks like when your clothes hang off ya or are too tight, and what a bad ‘do looks like, and so forth. In an ideal world, a woman’s glow would cut it, but if I’m a semi-vain human who knows where to draw the line, well, that’s a start. Beauty does cost money. We’re beautiful creatures and there’s nothing wrong with a little paint to enhance a good canvas, you know what I’m saying? But I don’t buy brand names and I think a $50 hairdo’s as good as a $300 and I’ve even bought clothes second-hand. There are different kinds of vain. Mine requires a budget, but it’s doable. I know what my style is, and I take nothing really from the media by way of influence.

‘course, I’d kill for a new leather jacket, too, eh? It’s about feeling good, yeah. Sometimes you need to spend some dollars, and most of us tend to be reasonable on that topic.