But once in a while an ad comes along that does more than just push a product. Now and then an advertisement contains a message that's pretty thoughtful and that deserves a "way to go" from the public.
One such ad, produced by the Dove company, has been talked about lately in both print and online media. The ad is titled "Real Beauty" and it's about women's perceptions of their appearance. The ad features several women who are asked to describe themselves to an artist who, working behind a curtain, draws a sketch based on their descriptions. Later on, the same artist produces a second sketch, one based on another person's description of the same woman.
The results are revealing: In each instance, the second description (as reflected in the sketches) is much more flattering than the subject's description of herself.
The troublesome thing about the ad, of course, is that it never really takes on the real culprit: a culture that's obsessed with beauty, especially in women. If the ad had proclaimed something really revolutionary, like "We worry far too much about appearance," it would have truly broken new ground, especially coming from a giant of the beauty industry.
But still, the Dove ad is okay: it seems to be telling women to give themselves a break when it comes to stressing over their cheeks, hair, eyes, skin, and other features. Its message: "You're prettier than you think. Don't be so self critical."
Some still might take issue with the advertisement's attempt to sidestep the "Does-beauty-really-matter" question, but to me, the ad delivers a positive message. Far too many women--college-age women in particular--beat themselves up for being imperfect in the looks department. Men also criticize their own appearance sometimes, but they're not nearly so harsh or relentless as women, whose inner critic often drives them to unhealthy diets, unnecessary surgeries, and extreme makeovers.
So if the Dove ad (below) makes a few young women go easy on themselves (and maybe be happier), it's done a good thing and deserves a shout-out.