• Wed, Apr 9 - 9:38 am ET

Dove’s New Ad Is So Meaningful That You’ll Forget They’re Selling Beauty Products

dove beauty patch

Dove is back with a new pro-body image advertisement manufactured to restore your faith in humanity or change the way you see yourself-nonsense. It’s a lovely idea that I very badly want to completely give into (like the feeling a freezing to death, it’s pleasant), but ads like this don’t erase the fact that Dove exploits the idea that we’re not good enough and need their products.

The basic premise of “Patches” is this: women are brought before a researcher who tells them that they are going to try out a new patch that will make them feel more beautiful and increase their self esteem. The women put it on their arms, and record video diaries chronicling their increased confidence over the next two weeks. They report that they’re more social, confident, and spend less time agonizing over their clothing. They meet with the researcher again and are told that the patches contained, surprise, nothing. It was the placebo effect all along.

There’s so much of this worth gushing over–it’s true that poor self esteem and hating your body is a social construct drilled into women from day one. I do believe that every person is capable of liking themselves given the opportunity to tune out all of the messaging that tells them they’re unworthy. I never tire of seeing women discover their own beauty (and by beauty, I don’t mean something that necessarily conforms to narrow beauty standards, but confidence in themselves).

But there’s one thing that can’t be ignored: Dove is a company that exploits low self esteem for profit. During the big reveal, one of the women says “I don’t need something to make me feel that way,” implying that she’s capable of self love and confidence all on her own. And yet, the Dove logo flashes at the end. We’re supposed to be swayed by their commitment to women’s self esteem and confidence despite the constant message to wear makeup, get plastic surgery, color or remove your hair, lose weight, and otherwise alter your appearance. We’re supposed to think Dove is above all of that, and then go buy their products that do exactly that. We’re supposed to forget that Dove products and Axe Body Spray are from the same parent company.

Despite the hypocrisy, Dove’s campaigns have been pretty effective. People want to support a company that purports to have a good message, which seems like a welcome change in the advertising landscape. Contrived or not, they’re doing something right. I count four different Dove products in my bathroom.

Photo: Youtube

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  • Kaitlin Reilly

    Agree that there is some disconnect between what Dove is and its message – the company is designed to sell beauty products to people to make them feel better about themselves – but happy that their message is one of positivity. Plus, Dove soap always smells amazing, so I’m on board.

  • Maddie

    I totally agree. They are exploiting the message to make a profit. But I don’t know if I would necessarily call their products ‘beauty’ products. I have always thought of them more as hygiene products…cause I think everyone should be using shampoo and soap on a regular basis haha. I guess I just think they are far from the worst offender on this subject

  • Sara

    “…but ads like this don’t erase the fact that Dove exploits the idea that we’re not good enough and need their products.”

    They sell soap, shampoo, deodorant, and lotion. It’s not make up or plastic surgery, it’s literally just basic hygiene stuff. Was the woman supposed to take away from this that she’s so beautiful that she no longer needs to give into society’s unrealistic expectations that we should all try to BATHE on a regular basis?

    And why so cynical? Why is it so outside the realm of possibility that Dove is a company with a conscious? That, yes, they are selling us “beauty” products, but is it possible that they’re not just blowing shit out of their ass they don’t believe to make a buck? Maybe they want to make money (because they would be a shitty company if they didn’t) AND they actually believe the things they say.

    I mean, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility. And The Gloss (and those of us in the comments section, I’ll admit) are constantly going after beauty companies for telling us to change everything about ourselves. Dove does the exact opposite and yet they are assholes anyway? WHO CAN WIN? WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPY?

    • Julia Sonenshein

      NOTHING ON EARTH WILL EVER MAKE ME HAPPY

    • Michelle

      *snicker* Julia, you’re funny. It’s so rare for the person who writes the article to show up in the comments and actually respond to criticism. Good on you.

  • Elizabeth Alexander

    i am i the only one who finds these ads incredibly patronizing? and more importantly, is anybody else really sad that these kind of ads are deemed “applause-worthy”? because they aren’t. all they do is say that hating yourself is the norm. it isn’t. i’m not saying a person can’t have low points, we all do, but to say that self hatred is an inevitable part of life, and only when you realize your beauty you can become a full person is just so gross.
    Now i don’t expect much from a corporation. they just want to sell stuff. but i think as people we need to stop attributing greatness to them, and need to stop using beauty as a benchmark for empowerment. Use dove all you want, their products are good! but let’s not pretend they’re saints

    • Sarah

      Not to mention portraying women as so painfully gullible and reliant on
      what other people think with no concept of self-worth whatsoever. Gosh
      it’s so unbearable to be a woman! How do we DO it everyday? It’s just
      tragedy day in and day out.

      Also, who did not SEE that coming?
      The patch is a placebo! Of course! Women are so silly that they believe
      beauty can come from a patch. Silly women.

      Here us women are: notorious buyers of snake oil from the snake oil salesmen. Who will rescue us from ourselves?

      Barf is all I can say to Dove. I own 0 Dove products and I’m happy about it.

      Sorry, rant over.

  • Mary

    I love this video.

  • Hannah Olson

    Oh I never new dove sold crap to do with make-up or Plastic Surgery….

    Did you ever think that some people need the make-up to feel better about themselfs, thst maybe they just need that cover-up or lip-stick that just forsome reasen that waering it just makes them feel beautiful or they want to cover up something like a scar thats a reminder of something bad happend to them or they just dont want people asking about how they got it.

    And why is it so hard to belive that maybe their are some people at companys have a soul, that maybe someone at dove dosen’t care about the money like the doctor in the video, maybe just maybe she does care so much that she has spent her whole life trying to find something that would help some people out with their self image, orthat maybe no one would give her the money todo her work and they where her last shot.

    So maybe you should see if there are just some stuff you need to think about, like some peoplewho do Plastic Surgery do it so they can help people who can’t talk talk again or people who barly have skin on their face just that the world isn’t such a bad place

  • Hannah Olson

    Oh I never new dove sold crap to do with make-up or Plastic Surgery….

    Did you ever think that some people need the make-up to feel better about themselfs, thst maybe they just need that cover-up or lip-stick that just forsome reasen that waering it just makes them feel beautiful or they want to cover up something like a scar thats a reminder of something bad happend to them or they just dont want people asking about how they got it.

    And why is it so hard to belive that maybe their are some people at companys have a soul, that maybe someone at dove dosen’t care about the money like the doctor in the video, maybe just maybe she does care so much that she has spent her whole life trying to find something that would help some people out with their self image, orthat maybe no one would give her the money todo her work and they where her last shot.

    So maybe you should see if there are just some stuff you need to think about, like some peoplewho do Plastic Surgery do it so they can help people who can’t talk talk again or people who barly have skin on their face anymore because of a bad car crash or something.

    But thats just my own opinion, other people think diffenrtly

  • Wendy IFaulkner

    It does help boost our self esteem knowing that they’re focusing on the normal and the regular. However, we also should understand that they’re still pushing a product right in our faces.

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