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Dove Helped Me Realize the Answer to Self-Esteem was Not “Choosing Beautiful”.

A woman stands hopelessly upon entering a building. Feelings of inferiority awaken as she is confronted with a choice between walking through a door labeled “Beautiful” or “Average.”

More and more women walk by. None can muster up the courage to define themselves as Beautiful and walk through its door. The tragedy! Women will never be able to attain inner confidence if they cannot find a way to identify with this word. Beauty is the answer, the only answer.

This is the premise of the latest Dove commercial. Encouraging women to “#ChooseBeautiful” by walking through the “right” door. Perhaps Dove is altruistic, inspiring women to broaden their view of the word Beautiful and include themselves in it. But this ad makes me wonder, is it impossible to have a healthy self-esteem if beauty is not at the forefront of my self-image? Is beauty necessary in order to think positively of myself?

In the commercial, women are presented with only two options; if you don’t consider yourself beautiful, the only logical conclusion is that you think of yourself as “average” and undeserving of anything great in life. Other traits are irrelevant to your self-worth. Intelligence, determination, self-respect, strength…these traits are insignificant to Dove…if you’re woman.

But a man, on the other hand, is valued for his strength in Dove’s eyes. Their men’s line of body wash products is littered with the tagline “Care makes a man stronger.”

I think I see a pattern here.

Dove is redefining terms so we can all feel accepted and happy. All women can feel beautiful and men can now be empathetic AND strong! Hooray? Dove is simply reinforcing sexist standards of what a man or woman are told they should be. Men must be strong. Women must be beautiful. And if you don’t identify as either gender, well, I guess you won’t know which soap you should buy next time you’ve run out of body wash.

Sure, let’s redefine words so that insecure viewers will feel empowered to finally fit into society’s definition of what is expected of them. How Revolutionary.

Let’s be progressive, but only if we do it within the realms of ancient gendered stereotypes.

Let’s remember that Dove is not a social advocacy organization. Dove is a profit oriented brand owned by the multi-billion dollar corporation, Unilever, and these videos are advertisements created to increase the sales of their products.

If Dove really cared about raising self-esteem in women and redefining beauty then they would stop selling products such as “body firming” lotion that rids cellulite, or disassociate themselves from sister brands such as Slim Fast, Axe or Fair and Lovely, whose products and advertisements are in direct opposition to the message of Dove ads.

Though it seems empowering that we should all feel that our bodies are worthy of the word “beautiful”, it reiterates the unhealthy message that as a woman in this world, your worth is deemed by beauty, and beauty alone.

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