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Dove Goes Rogue with “Real Beauty”

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Dove has taken its nearly-decade-long campaign for “Real Beauty” one step further by targeting designers.

Dove posted a link on Reddit that supposedly downloaded a Photoshop action to add a glow effect to an image. The action actually removes all of the edits the designer made.

I have quite a few thoughts on this.

Reddit? Was that the best place for this? If the comments on the post are any indication, I would guess no. It was posted on February 27 and almost a month later, no comments have been posted.

I’m no designer but I think one would expect a virus from a download on Reddit rather than a legitimate photoshop action.

Dove’s intention was to communicate with designers about how much retouching they are doing. But let’s not forget the designers are only doing their job. The client is the one who is normally calling the shots.

According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Dove’s “Real Beauty” isn’t exactly “real” to begin with. According to a direct quote from, Pascal Dangin, the designer who worked on the “Real Beauty” images, a fine line was walked while retouching. Just enough was done so the models looked, “real,” yet still attractive:

“Do you know how much retouching was on that?”

“But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.”

I originally wanted to be in advertising because I wanted to be a part of the creative process as well as be in a position to try and change the way women are perceived in advertising. I can now say that’s a lot harder than I ever thought it could be. If the client wants a sexy woman in their ad, with no (normal) flaws, that’s what they are going to get.

I applaud Dove for getting a message out about our perception being way off for the way a woman “should” look. But if you’re going to call them “real” women, show real women. I have been on photo shoots and I know there is a big difference between one’s every day look and being camera ready. Right now the “every day look” isn’t good for advertisements – it’s not what consumers are used to – but if Dove would really show real women, as they look everyday, without the pounds of makeup, the hair products and edits to wrinkles, enlarged pores, and imperfect bodies, maybe someday soon the every day look would be the standard and imperfect could become perfect.

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