This is a rant that has been building-up inside of me for some time.
If you don’t like icky truths, then please click away now to a cute screen full of bunnies. (BTW, I know that this is 100% my opinion, and I won’t think ill of you if you don’t agree with me, but please at least read my side).
So this is why this has happened. I have been inundated with people sending me the link to the Dove campaign. (If you live under a rock, and have no idea what I’m on about, click here.) Now, as grateful as I am that you all thought of me, and thought it would be a great thing to share, I have to question your motives…
I understand why Dove is doing this, and it is a great idea, but please could you just stop and think for a minute before you brandish you ‘real women’ swords and run off over a hill. You see, it has come to my attention that many people love the campaign for the wrong reasons.
If you adore this campaign, and think that it is the best thing since sliced bread, ask yourself these questions: Why do you love the campaign so much? Why is it so important that all my readers and all of your friends see it? Be honest – you don’t have to be honest with me, but at least with yourselves. Are you placing blame onto others for things you are unhappy about, and if you’re honest, you could change yourself?
Yes, we are all hard on ourselves, and perhaps external factors are to blame. But are we taking any responsibility there? We all have parts of our bodies that we don’t like, and I’m pretty sure that all of us have at least a few parts that we love. The problem lies in that I think many of us are scared to say so. We don’t want to be thought of as self-obsessed.
I completely understand why Dove* is doing this – women should feel good in their bodies, and this is a sentiment that I agree with 100%. But the glitch here is that most people are taking this as a ‘rage against the media machine’ opportunity. I don’t think that this is Dove’s intention at all. Transferring blame for your unease is really just avoidance, and if your are using this notion to blame ad agencies for what you hate about your body, then seriously, you need to have a long hard look at yourself. If you just love it because it’s a cool idea, then stop reading and carry-on with your day. Good on you girl!
* Please also remember that the Dove advert and campaign is also just that, an ad campaign. I’m not saying that they have made the whole thing up, or that the girls were cast, but just try and remember that they are wanting people to buy Dove, and talk about Dove, and send links about Dove to their friends…
This brings me to the media side of things. I know the media is an unpredictable beast, and yes, I know that it can be incredibly misleading. But if I know that, then surely you all should know that too. Why do you take things at face value?
I know why; it’s because you want to believe that you can look like Kate Moss if you wear Rimmel Lipstick. Of course you can’t, but a girl can dream, right? But in the same breath, you’ll say you hate your thighs because L’Oreal uses Doutzen Kroes in their ads, and that makes you feel bad about yourself. Really? Is that really why you hate your thighs, or is it because you are irritated with yourself because you didn’t have the will power to not eat that entire box of Woolies Chocolate Sponge Fingers? I think that perhaps many women are projecting their unhappiness outward and looking for somebody to blame. Sound ridiculous? Wait… I can promise you that Doutzen does have craving for those sponge fingers, and she may even indulge in one or two of them, but definitely not the whole lot, and she will absolutely make sure she does an extra bit of exercise to burn them off. We mere mortals will probably eat the whole lot, and instead of exercising, dive into a deep hole of self-loathing and eat some more.
I understand that there are women amongst us that hit the genetic lotto, but there are very few of them, I can assure you. I once went on a press trip with a model that had the most incredible body ever, but she spent her free time exercising instead of scoffing ice cream like the rest of us. Then at dinner, instead of ordering a sauce-laden pasta, she opted for steamed veggies and a steak. “How is that a way to live?” I hear you ask, well, it’s her job. The best part was she was completely honest about it too. She said she had to workout for 90 minutes everyday, and she always made sure she watched what she ate. Especially when she had swimwear to model the next day. Sounds boring, huh? It is, but the payoff was that she had an amazing bod. It basically comes down to choice. If you enjoy chomping chocolate more than you like exercising, then great, but please don’t moan about your muffin tops then.
This is not rocket science, and you have heard this all before. So why exactly is everybody so adamant that we should be seeing ‘real’ un-retouched people in magazines?
I’ve been in this industry since I left school. I have worked on many titles both here and in the UK, and there is one thing that has been the same across the board – we are always told that the public wants to see real people. Sorry, ladies, you think you do, but you don’t. No, don’t argue, you REALLY don’t.
You see, after a while the novelty of seeing Taryn from Pofadder in a pair of Zoom heels or Kate from PE in a Woolies cardi wears off. And why? Because we don’t care. Not because we don’t think that Taryn and Kate look great, but because it’s not us or relevant to our lives.
There is nothing to aspire to – we can see our friends in those clothes, so what’s the big deal? Those shoots are of people you don’t know who look fresher than they did before; in clothes you’ve seen in the shops already. Big freakin’ whoop!
But a supermodel hanging off the side of the Eiffel Tower in a Max Mara jacket that you’ll never be able to afford, that’s aspirational (the jacket, not the swinging from French national treasures). It will make you look at Edgars or Foschini jackets in a different way. Oooh! That one has a similar cut to the Max Mara, but at a 10th of the price. Score!
I have worked on titles (that have since closed-down due to poor sales) that were solely dedicated to making ‘real’ women look amazing. All of those ladies did look incredible at the end, but you know what? Every single one of them STILL asked the photographer to retouch them in post, even though they had spent a good part of 2 hours in hair and make-up with some of the best in the industry. They wanted to look the very best they could, even if that meant a little Photoshop.
And we have the audacity to grumble about ads with airbrushed models? Very much a pot and kettle situation, me thinks.
Still don’t agree with me? OK, so let me ask you how you found this article? Was it because you were on a beauty focused website? Yes. Why were you here in the first place? Because you like beauty products? Almost certainly. Why do you use beauty products? To enhance your looks and natural beauty. Aha! Stumbled on something there, haven’t I?
What is the difference between putting on make-up and retouching? Not very much in my eyes. They both create masks that are not real – a disguise of sorts. I don’t know very many girls who are happy to walk around with their spots and big pores on show. No, most of us are of the opinion that if you can hide them, then why not? The same goes for ads, if not, why not?
I’m not saying this is a right or wrong attitude, I’m just saying look at it. Make your decision, stick to it, change what you can and accept what you can’t (or don’t, but please stop moaning about it and blaming other people).