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Video: Dove

The latest installment in the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is an eight-minute film entitled “Selfie.” The video (which marks the campaign’s 10-year anniversary) premiered earlier this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and has gotten a plethora of positive press in the ensuing days. The rather contrived video shows how, through social media (and specifically through taking “selfies”), teenage girls and their mothers can change the way they see themselves. But although it ends with smiles all around, the viral video arguably isn’t attempting to tackle existing stereotypes, empower women, or raise any real critiques of our society — it’s just meant to sell more Dove products.

The video — and the skincare company behind it — has received virtual pats on the back for tackling tough issues like self-esteem and insecurity, and giving girls and women a confidence boost. According to Dove’s latest advertisement-slash-staged-uplifting-scenario, the mainstream media might affect how we view our physical features, but we are all beautiful in our own special way.

Now, that’s all true and good. But, although the video’s participants say otherwise (in suspiciously formulaic phrases), can taking one photo really “cure” years of personal insecurities and shake up decades of our culture’s restrictive definitions of beauty? Exploring adolescent views of body image: the influence of media. Spurr S, Berry L, Walker K. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing. 2013; 36(1-2):17-36. Body image, media, and eating disorders. Derenne JL, Beresin EV. Academic Psychiatry. 2006 May-Jun; 30(3):257-61. . I don’t think so. And Dove probably doesn’t either, or at least not entirely — their job is to sell lotions, creams, and other “beauty” products, after all.

Is it just me, or is there something hypocritical (and patronizing) about a beauty company capitalizing on feel-good marketing in order to indirectly target women’s insecurities as a means to sell beauty products? And isn’t every woman who walks on this planet already “real,” without needing corporate validation for being so?

Do you think the Dove “Selfie” video is empowering or condescending? Weigh in via our poll below.

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