Now I suppose you could argue we should be grateful that they haven't just gone for Lily Cole lying in a puddle with an axe in her head, which as we all know is what really sells moisturiser. "Treat your corpse to softer, suppler, younger-looking skin ... before rigor mortis sets in." Media recruitment agencies need not call.
But I just refuse to participate in the "campaign for real beauty". I'm rather preoccupied with the campaign-for-women-not-to-be
-judged-on-their-appearances-in-the-first-place. The campaign
-for-the-public-unimportance-of-unattractiveness-in-women. The campaign-for -appreciation-of -women's-intellect,-strength
Secondly the whole "talk to your daughter" - and tell her what? "Listen sweetie, there is a massive multi-billion pound global industry out there trying to tell you that you're unattractive and trying to sell you products on that basis, but you don't need to buy face cream cos Mummy loves you anyway..." That'll make all the difference. Wouldn't we be better off if Mummy didn't have to tell her kids that, if instead the beauty industry just backed off a bit, now it's impact is starting to be so frighteningly obvious? And how is a quick chat with (uncool) Mum going to balance against the hundreds of negative images kids see every day?
Anyhow their images of "real" beauty might include a nominal amount of slightly larger, slightly older and (shock-horror) non-caucasian women but actually they show mostly really very attractive women. OK, they're not models but they're not over 300lbs, there's no-one with a disfiguring disability, and I don't see anyone who looks over about 60. They're a lot better looking than if you went out in the street and just stopped the first women you saw.
The website itself doesn't seem to be much help. On the kids (girls, of course) page it suggests inviting your friends round and holding a fashion show - because only your best friends will tell you those white boots might be "mod" but they're just not "you". Yes have your friends come round and criticise your dress sense! Then you get to print out the self-esteem certificate... Seriously!
A beauty product company - and one which in the past has offered such "confidence boosting" products as “Intensive Firming Gel-Cream: for specific problem areas like thighs" - simply isn't the one to be telling us all how to manage our self-esteem issues. If they believe a word of what they say they would close down and re-open as a women-only go-karting and dry-slope skiing centre. In any case Dove is simply one of hundreds of products made by Unilever. How many of the following Unilever-owned brands have signed up for the "campaign for real beauty":
Slim Fast (yes, the fast-diet milkshake crap)
Lynx (spray more, get more nubile semi-naked bikini-clad models chasing after you)
Sunsilk (website quote: Want hair like Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman or Posh Spice? )
Pond's (website quote: If you're worried that your face isn't as firm as it used to be, then you don't have to just grin and bear it)
Timotei (advertised by gorgeous super-thin young-looking models in white dresses wandering about a meadow)
Sure (advertised by super-athletic muscular semi-naked models)
Lux (website quote: We all like to look gorgeous and enjoy that confidence which makes us feel like anything’s possible)
Axe (Men's body spray, website boast: Our award-winning ads and marketing are equally adventurous. In Colombia, for instance, a female Axe Patrol visits bars and clubs, frisking guys and applying body spray ... How good will I feel about my "real beauty" while my boyfriend is being frisked by glamorous models in a Columbian nightclub?)
And Unilever are so keen for you to celebrate your naturally beautiful body that here's what they want you to rub on it (this is the Extra-Sensitive Cream Bar):
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Aqua (that's water btw), Coconut Acid, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Zinc Oxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, CI 77891.
Mmmm, mmmm, just reading that's making me feel beautiful already huh? Some of those are just posh words for products derived from palm oil and coconut, others are a little more sinister like: Tetrasodium EDTA - Synthetic preservative - can be irritating to the eyes/mucous membranes. And Cocamidopropyl Betaine which has been claimed to cause allergic reactions in some users.
The truth is advertisers don't give a stuff about little girl's self-esteem or older women's real beauty. They care about getting products off the shelf. Here's what Unilever's website says about Dove:
Paragraph one: "Dove is committed to widening the definition of beauty for women because we believe real beauty comes in all ages, shapes and sizes. To help you enjoy your own brand of beauty, Dove provides an extensive range of cleansing and personal care products that make a genuine difference to the condition and feel of your skin and hair."
Paragraph two: "Dove is now the UK’s top cleansing brand with an amazing 35% of the population having bought a Dove product in 2004. And it doesn’t end there: 7.2 million women use Dove every week in the UK."Are we all really THAT stupid?
(The image up top by the way is not the Dove advert - it's a copy-cat by Bigmoves - a larger dance troupe appearing near you - if that's New York, Boston, Montreal or San Francisco - soon...)