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4 Reasons Why I Think Dove’s Attempt At Making Women #ChooseBeautiful Is Offensive

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By Sanskriti Pandey

In this recent video, Dove has recorded a social experiment that lets women choose to walk through either of two doors labeled ‘Average’ and ‘Beautiful’. According to their YouTube description, they travelled across several cities “to prove that beauty is a choice” and that “the power of this choice is in your hands.” Feeling special, yet? Feeding ‘empowering’ messages through ‘social experiments’ is passé, but the following questions are why Dove’s attempt at making women #ChooseBeautiful is, in truth, a little offensive:

  • Why reduce women to their physical appearance in order to feel empowered?
  • Is beauty a precedent to empowerment?
  • Why can’t women choose to be “strong” or “confident” instead?
  • Why is a brand that sells beauty products being allowed, by you and I, to tell us that we absolutely need to be ‘beautiful‘?

Emphasis on beauty in an unequal and sexist society is every feminist’s nightmare. Watch, and tell me what you think!

To know more about what I think of this video, follow me on Twitter at @im_sanskriti.

You must be to comment.

    I don’t think its offensive towards women. It just gave you two options between AVERAGE and BEAUTIFUL, it just showed what the women feels about themselves. Just listen what they said after entering from the average door, if given a second chance they would choose beautiful. How can it be offensive?

    1. Sanskriti Pandey

      Kumar Ritu Raj, I feel that the compartmentalisation of a woman into ‘average’ or ‘beautiful’ is stamping our ability to think beyond what we call ‘standards’. Why are societal standards set ? Isn’t this campaign reinforcing standards even though it claims to ask you to choose the superior standard – beautiful? It is offensive to me because it limits my intelligence, as a woman, to think beyond feeling beautiful. And it irks me that under the guise of an empowerment message, I’m being told to choose beautiful by a brand that sells beautification. That is all.

  2. B

    Beauty ideals are being set by feminists with their ‘I will wear what I want’ slogans. Apparently it is liberating for women to wear miniskirts and cleavage revealing tops, while they constantly keep tugging at their skirts to cover up a bit more, and pull at their tops from the neck to hide their cleavage. Today, women are told by feminists to sexualize themselves in the name of liberation. They are told that in order to be seen as progressive and emancipated, they must dress a certain way. Women today are so systematically and strategically being brainwashed that they don’t even realize it. You must wear whatever you want; miniskirts, short shorts, backless dresses, tight jeans, low neck tops, spandex pants, etc. Furthermore, women have to have an abundance of clothes, a dozen sandals, manicures, pedicures, constant visits to hair saloons, gyms, spa, dieting to the point of anorexia, and it has even reached the point of cosmetic surgery for girls who are absolutely in no need of it, spending billions in the process and falling prey to feminist theories. Women today are so used to visual images of scantily dressed women that they don’t even feel it anymore. Of course, you can sell women anything – from Torches of Freedom to lies about liberation and they will buy it. Women have been told by feminists, repeatedly, that by dressing sexy, they will be seen as intellectual and liberated. It is feminists who control and subjugate women by telling them to behave in a certain way, a way that they see fit.

    1. Sanskriti Pandey

      B, aren’t you contradicting yourself there? You seem to have severely misconstrued the idea of ‘feminism’.
      1. Feminism is about being okay with your sexuality and how you choose to express it. (As opposed to asking women to “sexualise themselves in the name of liberation”. Wrong.)
      2. They are NOT told that “in order to be seen as progressive and emancipated, they must dress a certain way”. At least, no true feminists tell women that.
      3. No feminist theory has ever pointed women towards exerting pressure on themselves to look good. In fact, feminism is the fight Against such pressures. I don’t know what you’re talking about!
      4. And finally, when you say that “women have been told by feminists, repeatedly, that by dressing sexy, they will be seen as intellectual and liberated. It is feminists who control and subjugate women by telling them to behave in a certain way, a way that they see fit,” you’re literally telling me what feminist Don’t Do On Principle. No feminist asks women to dress sexy. Dress however you want. No feminist “controls” or “subjugates” women and tells them to behave a certain way. Feminism is about an egalitarian society that doesn’t discriminate against women on the basis of the idea that it stands under a superior gender, and fights for the realisation among women that they can be intellectual and liberated the way they are.

  3. Rajula Srivastava

    Beauty is an idea, an abstract concept. The ability to appreciate beauty, in its various forms, is what I feel the essence of our higher nature. I say, and in fact, emphasise on the words “various forms”, because the concept and meaning of beauty is highly unique to each individual. Poets find beauty in words, painters in colours; some find it in the permanance of mountains, and some in the transitivity of the sea; you might find a fellow person beautiful, and it may or may not have anything to do with what they look like. Speaking for myself, yes I find Aishwarya Rai beautiful- but I the idea of beauty for me is too big to just find interpretation as physical beauty alone. I have found it in the laughter of a child, smelled it in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, heard it when listening to an old forgotten song after a long time, felt it in the touch of a gentle breeze on a cool summer evening, and experienced it in its purest and sublimest form in the elegance of an abstract theorem. All the things and people I love, I find beautiful- in fact, I don’t even know now whether beauty follows love, or is it the other way around! So, now when it comes to loving myself, why should I not find myself beautiful, and why should it have anything to do with how I look?
    It might be just me, but when I saw the advertisement, I found no indication whatsoever of the fact that the beauty they referred to was in the context of physical beauty alone. In fact, how interpreted it was that it referred to self perception, and how we should never allow the unrealistic standards set by external world to dictate our self image. Maybe since it is an advertisement made by Dove, people might associate it with physical beauty- but the advert itself, according to me, encourages us to find beauty in ourselves- maybe in our appearance, but then also in our compassion, desires, struggle and thoughts.

    1. Sanskriti Pandey

      Rajula Srivastava, I appreciate how you poetically described what beauty as a concept means to you. In fact, I agree with all of it there.
      Regarding the latter bit of what you said, about Dove: To me, the very fact that Dove is feeding me empowering messages directly negates the notion that beauty can be interpreted in several ways, in this case. As I commented elsewhere, the compartmentalisation of a perception into ‘Average’ and ‘Beautiful’ stems from the motive of setting a standard. That Dove is encouraging us to find beauty in ourselves is amusing to me, because Dove sells me products that will give me smooth skin, even complexion, white underarms, what not – none of which tell me, even subtly, that I should tell myself to feel beautiful in my compassion, desires, struggles and thoughts. 🙂

    2. Rajula Srivastava

      So, your problem is not with what is being said, but rather with who is saying it?

    3. Sanskriti Pandey

      The who and the what together made the campaign, didn’t they? And they create my experience of the video, together. My response, therefore, stems from the overall experience and what I took away from it.

  4. MARVA

    Then why does dove even exist? , if beauty is a choice? Why should dove ever advertise to clear all the pimples, make skin fairer and glisten? This is bullshit and marketing techniques.

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