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December 2, 2006

Modern Evolution


Because appearance and identity are major themes at The BAG, particularly as women and media are involved, I thought we should take a look at this ad.

First some background, though.

At the end of the summer, a story that dominated the news here in Spain was the backlash against underweight fashion models.  Prior to Madrid’s fashion week, the Spanish Association of Fashion Designers, in concert with the local government, instituted a minimum weight standard based on a U.N. recommended body mass index.

Although there was applauding, fist pounding and back pedaling within the industry, the bigger shows that followed — London, Paris and New York — chose not to follow Spain’s lead.

In light of the concern, I became interested in this ad, produced for the Dove company, as part of its Campaign for Real Beauty.  (BAG note: I became aware of the ad in late summer, but didn’t get a chance to blog it till now.)  Given the sophistication of marketing and advertising (and perhaps, too, a growing evolution in social responsibility), it becomes ever more complicated to discern between self-interest and social-mindedness (if you accept the idea) in commercial campaigns.

I know you’ll raise other questions, but here’s mine:  As a hybrid commercial/public service announcement, how much is this ad “doing the right thing,” and how much is it leveraging the “attraction” of social responsibility in the name of selling beauty and beauty products?  And then, in a practical world, is this what you call a “win-win?”

Given our close daily inspection of visuals here at The BAG, there is another extremely illuminating aspect of the ad to take note of.  The subject of photoshopping and digital alteration often comes up here in discussion, but I can’t remember when/if we’ve had the opportunity to really see it process.  In that light, I found the post production sequence rather startling, if not somewhat illicit and even grotesque.

Finally, regarding the opening shot (above), isn’t that look especially riveting — as if, in that intense gaze and plain appearance, this women somehow convinces us she would not be a party to what follows?

I’d love to hear your reactions.

Video: Dove Evolution: From Model To Billboard In Under 60 SecondsLink

Dove Corporation Campaign for Real Beautylink

(Full disclosure: I increased the size, and added contrast to the still.)

(hat tip: BoingBoing. video: Reginald Pike. Yael Staav.Tim Piper/Ogilvy, Toronto via

  • Lucaites

    I’m a bit new to this blog — well’ I’ve lurked for awhile. But I too find all of this a bit disturbing, but am having difficulty putting it in words. Could you say a bit more about what makes the use of photoshop here “particularly” problematic?

  • ummabdulla

    Wow – I remember years ago looking at before and after pictures of models in teen magazines, but then they only had the airbrush; they didn’t have the computer software that makes it so easy to lift her eyebrows, thicken her lips, lengthen and narrow her neck, etc. You wonder why they even need to start with a real human being and bother with the expense of make-up artists, hairdressers, photographers, etc.
    (Haven’t there been some recent controversies with photos of women… Rosie O’Donnell and Katie Couric maybe?)
    It is sad that even the supposedly most beautiful women in the world (the models) aren’t even good enough to be portrayed realistically, and the girls and women who try to look like them don’t realize that even those women don’t look like that.
    There was a TV commercial years ago… I can’t remember the company, but I think it was for pantyhose or something. They showed twins who were both very beautiful and had nice figures (both the same), but then they showed one wearing their “slimming” pantyhose (or whatever it was) and the other wearing their product that added curves to her behind. The message was that you couldn’t possibly be good enough.
    When I saw photos of the too-thin models, or the one who died of complications from anorexia, what I found saddest was that they didn’t really look abnormal, as far as models go.
    This discussion reminds me of the book “The Beauty Myth”, which I guess is out-of-date now.

  • amm

    Not only the model’s final appearance is totally artificial, the video itself depictng the model’s creation — its speed and editing and so on — is a further comment on how all the millions of images surrounding us are artifacts — some made with more care than others. And as with any ad, this too, at base, is driven by the desire to make money — although it can still be entertaining and show something that rings true.

  • Miss Led

    The Dove campaign really hits you in the gut. One of their shampoo ads features photos of various women – one is a woman in her 60’s or 70’s with white hair and lots of wrinkles.
    I realized I NEVER see old women as models. Certainly never women without facelifts, airbrushing, etc. making them look like 30-year-olds with white hair.
    Of course, like every ad, the idea is to get you to spend, spend, spend. =:-O

  • Darryl Pearce

    …oh, I was fine with the fast-forward documentary until the digital manipulation began. I must admit that I like visual effects rather than special effects.
    But the differences between paintings/sculptures and actual photographic imagery is getting to be a …less distinct border.
    However, I do like the model with the dramatic single lime-light.

  • Tina

    A “self-esteem” fund from a company that sells beauty products? Something is not quite clicking here. Back in the summer when the Dove models were on Oprah, I saw a good article in “Slate” about the “average woman” ad campaign–I thought it was insightful although critical of the company’s motives.
    Let me see if I can find the article, and think this over a bit.
    I’m reminded also of Benneton’s ad campaigns featuring children with disabilities and so on. And who were the folks who were taking artsy pictures of people on death row for their advertising?

  • Tina

    another thought in my stream of consciousness–the Wal-Mart greeters, handicapped or elderly persons who stand out front to show that Wal-Mart has a socially aware side.
    Why I am making these connections? Are these all “awareness campaigns” that have actually served to further marginalize the groups they supposedly want to serve (or exploit)?
    Let’s see: average women = elderly = handipcapped = death row inmates. wait a minute…..
    Oh, man. This isn’t starting to look good.

  • Susan

    WOW – that’s about all I can think to say right now…wait more is coming! I’ve just never seen a FACE DONE before…
    This is FLABBERGASTING and to add to THAT reaction in me, you will be (maybe) surprised to learn I am a Graphic Designer who uses Photoshop constantly!
    I don’t “use” it to “enhance” faces or bodies! For a while, I used it to retouch cell phones!
    Can you imagine? :)
    Usually the files depicting the cell phones were not in good Photo quality shape to go to print so I never felt I was misleading the public. These “photos files” were full of scratches, blobs and distortions…it was more like cleaning up an OIL SPILL or a muddy mess.
    The phones, themselves were very nice looking “THINGS”! They ended up looking like what they actually were!
    HOWEVER, to use this program (Photoshop and others) to “enhance” a nice looking woman/HUMAN FEMALE or male into something totally UNREAL is a terrible shame.
    Even all the make-up and visual “tricks” that will produce, isn’t “right”. A little make-up isn’t a bad thing but I have seen young girls with gorgeous skin covered with massive amounts of make-up/”foundation” for just “being around” – “doing nothing in particular”.
    The NEED to cover their faces with all kinds of “stuff” – their eyes with several shades of COLOR and encircling them with even more just to go to the grocery store – IS WEIRD!
    I know the whole SELL, SELL, SELL impetus behind this – more cosmetics – more money, etc.
    But when you tye it in with becoming skin & bones and the rest of the REMAKING of the human female – it gives ALL of society the wrong impression and not only that leaves us all depressed (to name ONE downer).
    Everyone loses because women can’t ever KEEP THAT going and men are totally disappointed that – THAT GIRL/FEMALE doesn’t exist in REAL LIFE.
    How much does this contribute to even greater social ills? The poor young women who starve themselves LITERALLY to death and the people who are never satisfied with their mates – should they ever be able to find one who is “CLOSE ENOUGH”.
    “Close Enough” will only disappoint in the long run or even short run. If she wakes up with a bad flu, will the Significant Other run away screeching at what she really looks like on a bad day? Of course, on a GOOD REGULAR DAY – she doesn’t cut it either without all the STUFF.
    I saw a TV presentation on what the advertising agencies do to some models – way beyond what is shown here in the DOVE piece. I’m assuming the model’s face had already BEEN DONE in the one I saw but what they did to her LEGS were FREAKISH.
    She was sitting down, sideways with her legs extended in front of her. The “artists” (both men) took a swath of her top leg area and stretched it INCHES or PIXELS all the way down to her toes.
    The model ALREADY had beautifully long, slender legs but these two men actually stretched these legs beyond endurance (like she had been on THE RACK).
    She looked like a GIANT, tiny body or middle, large breasts with long spidery legs – BARBEY Doll – ugh! If she had been REAL and stood up, the effect would have been MONSTROUS and her NEW legs would not have supported her.
    What is so sad is that women with perfectly proportioned legs and bodies are made into “nothings”! Not worthy of a LOOK or any value!
    I’d love to see a REVOLUTION of short legged, short stature, curvy women made into something really special.
    Ever take a close look at those beautiful RENOIR & REMBRANDT WOMEN – bulges and cellulite galore!
    Time for a CHANGE – let’s be INCLUSIVE of all BODY TYPES for surely God made and gave us this VARIETY for a REASON!
    Thanks for the chance to RANT and hopefully contribute -
    From “A” Female ARTIST reminding the World of the infinite VARIETIES of beauty…even so called “UGLY” can be appealing…
    I say America and other nations who so value such a strict stereotype – EXPAND your horizons (no pun intended!:).

  • MonsieurGonzo

    Notwithstanding the very real problems of eating disorders among women and likewise steroid & growth hormone abuses among young men, which are very real, to be sure ~ they are in fact minimal when taken in with total population statistics within the U.S.A…
    …in the same way that certain “sensational” crimes are broadcast relentlessly on empTeeVee, giving many the impression that it is no longer safe for their children to go outside to play or, ride the Municipal Bus: the ugly truth is that the magazine/TV “mirror” by which Americans “view themselves” is incredibly distorted not simply by design but also by desire.
    Americans are overtly obese. thin-ness is rare ~ not unlike “good teeth,” fitness is more a symbol of intelligentsia / upper-middle class status!
    Few Americans actually wear anything other than 3rd world sweatshop cotton “gym clothes,” denim slacks and rubber shoes. iow, i find this obsession with “too thin” models and sexual celebrity almost laughable when in fact American children are in reality so fat that diabetes is a childhood epidemic, and Vyagra is a socially acceptable performance enhancing drug.
    “When you are on the phone or on the air, you have no body” -McLuhan
    “photoshopping” is virtual cosmetic surgery for a physically unfit post-modern delusion :-/

  • ummabdulla

    Susan’s post reminded me of this: China agonises over leg-stretching surgery
    This thread also reminds me of the skin-lightening creams that are used by so many women – and men – around the world.

  • Janet

    There sites that show before and after photoshopping of models and celebrities – usually to advertise the skills of the retoucher for advertisers. But to address the theme of using “public service” to get profits, the “pink ribbon” “breast cancer awareness” scheme, which also degrades women is a far richer source to plumb.

  • thirdeyepushpin

    free your mind and your ass will follow the kingdom of heaven is within..and so with beauty as well. Unilever wants to leverage the new market oof beauty rebels….

  • Dan

    The ad is striking, I mean, I know that all these tricks are used to make fashion shoots work, but to actually see it is something else. Now for the cynicism, the company that owns Dove also owns the Axe brand. Axe’s campaigns are of course for anything but real beauty. So yes, this is a marketing ploy even as it presents itself as almost a negation of marketing.

  • Scarabus

    I teach a course titled Image and Identity, so I’m always on the lookout for such stuff. Last Thursday I showed this commercial followed by an Apple Keynote presentation on related stuff. For the latter I showed one slide containing an unretouched image of a frighteningly emaciated Kate Moss, then compared it to images of more fulsomely-bodied Marilyn Monroe and Christie Brinkley. I also showed some images I found in a book by Kevin Ames titled Adobe Photoshop: The Art of Photographing Women. (The current edition is titled Adobe Photoshop CS2….) Lots of before and after images, showing just how Photoshop experts perform their tricks. Don’t know about the second, but the first edition shows how to make a real woman into a replica of Barbie. The students were clearly impressed.
    Side note: The image of Kate Moss was in grayscale, those of Monroe and Brinkley in color. I had the class talk about whether, in a presentation about manipulation, I had manipulated them by doing that.

  • zatopa

    In a way it’s kind of reassuring that a megabrand can do this kind of advertising; it’s clearly effective, their brand is doing very very well.
    I think this ad is very safe. The finished, billboard model shot is not something most hip viewers would look twice at; it’s a look that’s still out there, certainly, but it’s hardly a current look, and anyone who thinks of themself as having a smart sense of style could not be to look twice at such 80s-era photography, lighting, layout and makeup. Call me cynical, but to me it’s “Do the Dew”, X-Treme Soft Drink, aren’t-we-radical-for-not-believing-the-hype. Just for a different market.
    And yet, it would seem that their hearts are in the right place. And if that fade-out flying-dove is bringing greater self-esteem to young girls, I can hardly fault them for that.

  • The Heretik

    Surreality is the order of the day.

  • ummabdulla

    Wait a minute… Dove is a Unilever brand? (I had no idea they had so many brands.)
    That website doesn’t mention “Fair&Lovely” as one of their brands, but if you search on it, it comes up on eight of their international sites. “Fair&Lovely” (and Fair&Handsome, for men) is a skin-lightening cream that’s sold in many countries; it’s advertised heavily on Arabic satellite stations, among others. The commercials are really horrible – a woman who’s pretty much of a loser until she starts using Fair&Lovely, and you see her skin gradually get lighter until she gets a dream job as a TV personality, and her parents are so proud…
    But they also have the Fair&Lovely Foundation, “empowering women” through “education, career guidance and enterprise”.

  • Lightkeeper

    And yet, it would seem that their hearts are in the right place. And if that fade-out flying-dove is bringing greater self-esteem to young girls, I can hardly fault them for that.
    Here’s a little secret, zatopa: the sole purpose of a corporation – any corporation – is to make as much profit as possible. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. Full stop.
    This ad reminds me of this book called The Rebel Sell. It explains how capitalism needs “rebels” – people who aren’t buying what they’re selling – so that it can continue to have new markets for further exploitation. It was a real eye-opener. For instance, when the hippies all decided that they didn’t need to have the same cars as everyone else in society, Volkswagen made billions selling them the same thing – a car – in different packaging. Old wine, new bottle.
    This whole notion that corporations could possibly have a real social consciousness is so beyond the pale that I find it hard to believe so many intellectuals even play with the idea. Do some research, christ just even watch The Corporation. The only thing that matters is the bottom line. If in the process they need to maintain an illusion of ’social responsibility’ to make people believe in them some more, then thats what they will do.
    Just please stop passing around the misguided notion that corporations have any real interest in saving our souls. We live in the most hypocritical time we have evidence of. It should not come as a surprise to any thinking person that a corporation which markets women as commodities to sell a product to men would turn around and present another product – this time to the women themselves – by appealing to their innermost hopes and desires (ie, the surely ludicrous notion that one does not need to buy things to be beautiful). It is just par for the course, from where I stand.

  • mdhatter

    If it were an ad using the message to leverage sales of ‘negative’ products (lottery tickets, amphetamines, ricin), that would be one thing.
    The decision to purchase or not a particular brand of soap product is pretty much a socially neutral thing**. Only time will tell if this is a one-off or a real commitment on the part of the company.
    If time does tell, one way or the other, soap purchases might just be a progressive decision.
    **- (usually, I mean unless you’re a bit of a hippie (and no offense hippies, I use handmade soaps too))

  • AnonWoman

    I have a seven year old daughter and I’ve been thinking how I feel about this Dove commercial featuring young girls. Hard to argue against “you’re beautiful as the rainbow” showing young girls in all their natural beauty. How does she see it? If I look through her eyes, it seems perfectly benign. But the commercial emphasizes a girl’s beauty, as opposed to her talent, brains or accomplishments. It’s the constant emphasis on beauty that is so disturbing.
    A girl’s preoccupation with how she measures against her female peers starts early. First grade was particularly vexing because she was in a class with a number of girls whose mothers obviously focus on their daughter’s appearance. On the very first day of class, my daughter came home and excitedly announced: “Jenny is a model and she has done commercials with her Mom!“ This year, thank goodness, she isn’t surrounded by the same group. She’s made friends with another girl, much like herself, and they get to be their glorious seven year old selves, day in and day out.
    Seth Stevenson wrote a piece for Slate titled When Tush Comes to Dove. I agree with his analysis that “you simply can’t sell a beauty product without somehow playing on women’s insecurities”:

    The interesting thing here is the risky bet Dove is making. Beauty-product marketing has almost always been aspirational: I wish I could look like her … perhaps if I buy this lip gloss, I will! But Dove takes a wildly different approach: That chick in the ad sort of looks like me, and yet she seems really happy and confident … perhaps if I buy this Dove Firming Cream, I’ll stop hating myself!
    In part, Dove’s strategy is not unlike the Body Shop’s old eco- and animal-friendly stance: Buy our products because you like them, but also because you’re making a righteous statement. To buy Dove is to cast a vote for more “real curves” in advertising.
    But there’s a dirty little secret here. Because, in the end, you simply can’t sell a beauty product without somehow playing on women’s insecurities. If women thought they looked perfect—just the way they are—why would they buy anything?

    Why, indeed.

  • Cassidy

    “If women thought they looked perfect-just the way they are-why would they buy anything?” Jeez, how long does that guy go without a shower?
    It is bit of an oversimplification to claim that all companies are in business to make a profit, therefore, all companies are evil and everything they do is evil. I appreciate the fact that I can buy inexpensive shampoo and soap at the store instead of making them myself or buying expensive handcrafted products.
    I am very happy to support Dove’s choice in advertising campaigns by buying their products. Even if it were a completely superficial gesture on Dove’s part, I want every girl and woman to see someone who looks like themselves in everyday advertisements. It is a win/win situation. I heartily applaud this step in a healthier body-image direction.

  • Cactus

    Yes, tina, I thought of the Benneton ads, too. My take on that was that they were a company doing ecumenical ads of Africa and rain forests and such to sell their high-end clothes……hoping no one would question where the clothes are made. BUT, they got a lot of press whether good or bad.
    Maybe that is what Dove is doing……getting ‘talk’ which is free advertising for them. Still, they ARE making a point that all we see is not real. All grownups know this, but ten-year-olds probably don’t. Maybe that’s where it will do some good. But, of course, Dove is a soap, not a cosmetic. And actually, the campaign was rather short-lived, at least in the states. Doesn’t that usually mean it wasn’t all that successful?
    Another thing kids don’t realize is that the camera likes a still face. Think of all the top models and look at their faces. Very little expressionality. (I know it’s not a word.) I cannot think of one model with animated expressions. They are either born that way or learn how to do it.
    An early issue of “Ms.” magazine had an interview with Anais Nin, and accompanied it with an old photo of her (I think she was in her 60’s then). She was furious and demanded that they print the current photo which she gave them. Now that’s integrity!
    Enjoyed your rant, Susan. One of my art teachers had a theory that when men are dominant in society, women in art are ‘Reubenesque” and when women are in positions of power, women in art are thin. Go back to pictures/ads of the 1940s and the women are much more natural looking (they had airbrushing then, too). Even the movie stars look positively plump by today’s standards. Calista Flockhart, indeed!

  • GeorgeF

    My dear old mother used to say: who likes to embrace a bag of stag-horns? I can assure you – she was and is right.
    Dove had run an ad-series, on which about tem women, all of them definately no professional models, in their undies were presented, all of them slightly overweight in terms of models and I think, this ad raised a lot of sympathy to them.
    Some years ago H&M ran a series of ads with Anna-Nicole Smith – visibly overweight – posing in some sexy things. It was one of the most successful campaigns.
    I simply don’t understand, how skin&bones-creatures like the Olsen-twins, Calista Flockhart or Mrs Posh-Spicegirl could ever have become ideals. They are just sick! They are symbols of a sick society. And who has argued, “roubenesque” women were a product of a mens-dominated society? My daughter, a feminist at its best woul simply laugh about!

  • jtfromBC

    Lightkeeper > “just even watch The Corporation.”
    A better suggestion could not be given and for those who do not have the video its free here;
    The Corporation–watch/listen free 145 minutes then recalibrate your concept of this entity .

  • mdhatter

    Cassidy, handmade shavings soaps and bath soaps are considerably cheaper than any of the commerically produced, overpackaged, mega marketed, fully suynthesized ‘health and beauty products’, because they have exactly four ingredients, each derived from food.
    They may not keep as long, buth that’s a price to pay.

  • ummabdulla

    GeorgeF: “I simply don’t understand, how skin&bones-creatures like the Olsen-twins, Calista Flockhart or Mrs Posh-Spicegirl could ever have become ideals.”
    George, your comment made me laugh, because after hearing all the hype about Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham), I was amazed the first time I actually saw a picture of her. I know everyone has different tastes, but she didn’t seem attractive at all…

  • moebius

    It’s not restricted to women and beauty. Check out this spoof ad about male obsession first. It might be worth a laugh. Then follow this link about female obsession, to put it in perspective.
    I think that the great unifying theme of advertising is narcissism, keeping people tightly focused on their own selves and their own desires.

  • Sebastian Dangerfield

    I’m afraid I, too, must be counted in with the cynical camp. The conglomerate that owns Dove is, of course, not particularly interested in helping uplift the self-esteem of women and girls, but in selling their products. At the same time, having decided by some elaborate calculus that appearing to be concerned about these issues — because their research tells that that a whole lot of consumers are concerned about these issues — the conglomerate might end up doing some good as a side effect. Maybe.
    I am reminded of Bruce Robinson’s excellent film ‘How to Get Ahead in Advertising’ starring Richard E. Grant. Grant is an adman who runs into a mental block when trying to sell a pimple cream and goes off his head. In the midst of his psychosis, he has a breakthrough: First, start a sophisticated ad campaign that glorifies the boil, the zit, the festering carbuncle. Only after successfully making acne hip and acceptable, does he then swing into the second phase, once again investing pimples — now even more prevalent — with stigma and social opprobrium, thereby selling more pimple cream than ever. Following is one of many brilliantly written scenes. Here, Grant is addressing a group of very green, newbie ad-men who are trying to come up with a way of selling a supermarket store brand that is supposed to be healthy. They’ve come up with an ad featuring a thin, pretty young (early twenties) woman.
    Grant: Let me try and clarify
    some of this for you.
    Best Company Supermarketsare not interested in selling wholesome foods.
    They are not worried about the nation’s health.
    What is concerning them is that the nation appears to be getting
    worried about its health.
    And that is what’s worrying Best Co., because Best Co. Wants to go on selling them what it always has, i.e., white breads,
    baked beans, canned foods and that fat-squirting little heart attack traditionally known as the British sausage.
    So how can we help them with that? Clearly, we are looking for a label.
    We need a label brimming with health.
    And everything from a nosh pot to a white sliced will wear one with pride.
    I’m aware of the difficulties of coming to terms with this.
    It must be appreciated from the beginning that even the nosh pot must be low in something.
    And if it isn’t, it must be high in something else.
    And that is its health-giving ingredient we will sell.
    Which brings me to my final question: Who are we trying to sell this to?
    Answer: We are trying to sell this to the archetypal average housewife, she who fills her basket.
    What you have here is a 22-year-old pretty girl.
    What you need is a taut slob, something on foot deodorizers in a brassiere.
    Newbie Ad-man: I’m not quite sure we can go along with that. If you look at the market research…
    Grant: I don’t need to look at the market research. I’ve lived with 13-and-a-half million housewives for 15 years I know everything about them. She’s 37 years old.
    She has 2.3 children, 1.6 of which will be giris.
    She uses 16 feet, 6 inches of toilet tissue a week and fucks no more than 4.2 times a month.
    She has seven radiators and is worried about her weight, which is why we have her on a diet.
    And because we have her on a diet, we also encourage her to reward herself with little treats, and she deserves them.
    Because anyone existing on 1200 calories of artificial, synthetic, orange-flavored waffle a day deserves a little treat.
    “We know it’s naughty, but you do deserve it. Go on, darling, swallow a bun.”
    And she does.
    And the instant she does, the guilt cuts in. So here we are again with our diet.
    It’s a vicious, but quite wonderful circle, and it adheres to only one rule:
    “Whatever it is, sell it.”
    If you want to stay in advertising, by God you’d better learn that.

  • Peter VE

    In the end, they treat the model as the disposable she is: no credit amongst all the manipulators.

  • Tina

    “average women” are here presented like the handicapped children and death row inmates: as freaks we are made to feel sorry for in a subtle way.
    Oprah’s episode featuring a still atrociously thunder-thighed Kirstie Alley in a bikini (and a wrap she only briefly pulled aside, undermining the whole exercise) worked the same way. Did anybody really think she looked “gorgeous”? Would any overweight woman actually feel better after watching that segment? The most unflattering shot of Kirstie tottering along in her high heels was all over the news the next morning, inviting us to shake out heads at her figure. She talked about finding stripper’s panythose to make her legs look a little better, a sign that she’s still a long way from accepting her legs the way they are. It was a shame, the whole message really was “I must love myself even if my body is crap! Wahhhhhhh..” Come on, Kirstie. But of course, anybody who would be the star of a program called Fat Actress….
    Somehow all these campaigns do the opposite of what they profess. I don’t really see any movement towards promoting shapely or plump women as beautiful. The exception has maybe been Anna Nicole Smith, the beefy bombshell. She is genuinely fat and sexy, too bad she’s also very stupid. Except for the dumb part, we really need more like her.

  • momly

    Watch “Some Like it Hot” starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. In one scene, Marilyn is looking decidedly pudgy. It could be because she was pregnant (or recently not pregnant) with Arthur Miller’s child.
    Whatever it is, she is NOT svelte and I remember watching it in grad school with some friends and we all noticed and commented on it. It was actually sort of refreshing that someone who would have been considered “fat” by our then contemporary standards was considered a sex symbol at the time the movie was made.
    I felt better about the pizza I was eating, as I recall.

  • GeorgeF

    Tina: Of course I wasn’t talking about really overweight people (women as well as men). What I am worried about is propagandizing women like the Olsen twins and Mrs. Beckam. It is the same sick ideal like those body-builders, who make a joke of their feature.
    I simply would like to remind to the ancient Greek ideal of human beauty, depicted in theit statues.

  • Kija

    I use photoshop and was a) impressed with their technique and b) thought it was unnecessary as she was lovely in the first place. I do think the photoshop to change someone’s appearance is illegitimate, but sometimes photoshopping someone’s face actually makes them look more like themselves. For example, I took a photo of someone for an article and for some reason the light was incredibly harsh, exaggerating the fine lines and blemishes in her face to the degree that she looked wrong — not like herself. I airbrushed out some of the blemishes and wrinkles, leaving some still in, but making her look more like herself than the photo made her look.
    Another example, your photo has a group of white and black people and was taken with an auto-setting digital camera or your photo was taken under a tree with dark-light dappling from the sun through the trees. I would adjust levels on people individually to keep the white/sunlit folks from being washed out and the black/shadowed folks from being undifferentiated shadows and show what they look like in reality, not how the bad lighting or inadequate photography skills made them look.

  • Lightkeeper

    Sebastian: that was hilarious. Thanks for posting it. I’m going to try to find that vid…
    >> It is bit of an oversimplification to claim that all companies are in business to make a profit, therefore, all companies are evil and everything they do is evil. I appreciate the fact that I can buy inexpensive shampoo and soap at the store instead of making them myself or buying expensive handcrafted products. <<
    Cassidy: I really don’t think I oversimplified anything. The only point I was trying to make was that because making profit is the most important stipulation for a corporation, and the only one that really counts in the end, how can it possibly make sense that anything they do would trump that allegiance?
    My friend once suggested, jokingly, that we should set up a Good Deeds corporation, whose only responsibility to shareholders would be to do good deeds. I thought about it for a second, then retorted that it would probably be against the law. Turns out, it really is. You cannot be a beacon unto industry unless you are making oodles of cash doing it. Now, from a business perspective you might argue this makes sense. But from an ethical one, it is grossly insufficient. If the only thing that makes you a beacon is finding more and more clever ways to cut costs, and subsidizing as much of that cost to the public as you possibly can (while privatizing all of the profit that you possibly can), then that just shows you how much importance we place on ethics in this day and age. Frankly, I don’t see any light emanating from these lauded high priests of the (post)-modern age…
    Perhaps I am being too simplistic. Perhaps it is possible for corporations to be ethically responsible. But when you are constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure this quarter’s dividend is larger than the last one’s, I don’t think it is possible for even the most highly ethical ceo to care about being ethically or socially responsible.
    I don’t know why more people don’t get this simple 2+2 logic. Many just throw up their hands and make accusations of oversimplification or what not. The fact is, good and evil simply does not factor into a corporation’s thinking. It cannot. Period. I think some of us are just so desperately looking for a sign of something good, that anything at this point will suffice. But this Dove campaign is far too easy of an answer for all that ails our societies. And the easiest answers are almost always the wrong ones.
    And btw, these “inexpensive” shampoos you have the luxury to buy would not be inexpensive if their real cost were tallied into the total you pay at the checkout.
    jt, I think the whole documentary of The Corporation is online for free viewing at Google Video. Thanks.

  • lower_case A

    What was wrong with her to begin with? Why do we need to be repaired in order to fit in; to be deemed worthy? And, worthy of what, exactly?
    Is the problem consumerism? Is it unregulated, runaway capitalism? Is it civilization itself?
    These are all questions I have been wrestling with for a while now, and this post adds a new and disturbing element. One thing is certain; we humans have lost our way.

  • Tina

    Lower case A: you’ve got it. on the nose.

  • Sebastian Dangerfield

    Lightkeeper: Amen on all your comments (and not just the one about my comment!). Using the rant from ‘How to get Ahead …’ I was obliquely trying to make much the same points.
    As for Cassidy’s critique that “[i]t is bit of an oversimplification to claim that all companies are in business to make a profit, therefore, all companies are evil and everything they do is evil” I find it interesting that it is Cassidy — and not you or any of the other thoughtful commenters here — who has injected the concept of “evil” into the discussion. Our point thus far has been simply this: It is naive in the extreme to believe that the corporation that owns the Dove brand is motivated by a genuine desire to help correct distorted concepts of beauty and to alleviate the suffering that those distorted concepts have caused. The corporation — as its legal duties to its shareholders require — has as its prime and only motivation the accumulation of wealth. That is not a value judgment but an statement of fact, one that is emprically verifiable or falsifiable and that I believe is correct.
    What we think about this as a matter of values is a different matter. You perceive (basically correctly) that those of us who are pointing this out have a negative attitude about the idea that wealth accumulation is and should be the sole and primary motivator of our most important instutions. But that is not only not the point we are making at present, it is also a gross caricature of the rich array of critiques of the social model that has profit-maximization as its over-riding value.
    Speaking just for myself, I would never characterize the profit motive and all things that corporations do in furtherance of that motive as “evil” for the simple reason that I think the concept of “evil” is rather silly, theological one that does not advance the discussion one iota. I would argue, however, that from a standpoint that values human development, the exalted status that the profit motive enjoys in the current legal, political, and social order has distinctly pernicious effects. While this is hardly the place for a sustained exposition of such views, suffice it to say for present purposes that the schools of thought that embrace some version of this critique are many and varied and have a respectable intellectual pedigree; they do not rest on facile denunciations of corporations as “evil” and they cannot be blithely dismissed as such.

  • Lightkeeper

    Sebastian, I think for me these concepts of good and evil do have overbearing theological connotations, but I know that good and evil does exist in this world. However, it is certainly not something as facile and grand as most people make it out to be. It is all us – the homo sapiens who are the only species with the gift of consciousness yet ones that still haven’t really figured out what to do with it. (Ignore the pessimism…)
    An extremely remarkable exposition on the nature of good and evil can be found in Hannah Arendt’s arresting descriptions of witnessing the Nuremberg trials. I believe she reported for The New Yorker, and later these reports were turned into a book called “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.” Very fascinating and extremely compelling.

  • Saint Waldo

    I look at this and all I see is and update to Benneton’s attempts to sell via percieved multiculturalism. The current campaign, for me, is best tag-lined, “The United Complexions Of Dove”. Just because they acknowledge that certain things exist (photo retouches beyond the pale of reality) doesn’t mean that their product has anything to do with it. Just like their product had nothing to do with the previous models associated with Dove, usually raven haired (for contrast), long fingered sprites with eerily luminescent ivory skin, often caught in mid-rinse splashing water on their face. The viewer’s focus is still directed away from the product (what does Dove actually do, for me?) and focused instead on the producer (how does that company’s behavior make me feel?). The implication of editorial choice is what they are attempting to leverage: that by admitting this goes on, they are somehow meta-absolved from past behavior and deserve your hard earned dollars. It’s still useless dancing that is more about how the company is seen than the actual performance of their wares. I give it a 4 of 10 on the “They Really Mean It, And We Should Give A Shit” meter.

  • eric wp

    The history of perfume goes back to Egypt, although it was prevalent in East Asia as well. Early perfumes were based on incense, not chemicals, so aromas were passed around through fumes. The Roman and Islamic cultures further refined the harvesting and manufacturing of perfumery processes to include other aromatic ingredients.
    Thus, the ancient Islamic culture marked the history of modern perfumery with the introduction of spices and herbs. Fragrances and other exotic substances, such as Jasmine and Citruses, were adapted to be harvested in climates outside of their indigenous Asia.

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