The same company that brings us ads about “real beauty” that feel more like “emotionally manipulative bullshit” is involved in a fun new controversy! There’s a petition going around Change.org asking Dove to follow through with its feel-good message and start disclaiming when their ads contain retouched photos. They’ve responded, telling New York Daily News,
When the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty launched in 2004, we made a commitment to all women that we would not distort any of our images to create an unrealistic view of beauty. Dove takes great care to realistically portray women by accurately depicting their natural shape, size, skin color and age, thereby representing them as they genuinely are.
I mean, that’s reasonable. Say what you will about the intentions behind their schmaltzy commercials, but at the very least, Dove is one of the only companies making an effort to hire models with diverse bodies. Capitalism might be the driving force behind their “activism,” but at least there are some positive outcomes. They’re not necessarily our perfect allies, but they’re a lot closer to the Good Side than most of their competitors. I’m not a Dove fan, but lord knows there are a lot of companies that need this controversy ten times more.
My thoughts keep alternating between “I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole Dove company were evil” and the much more reasonable “labeling Photoshopped images isn’t going to do anything to fix the problem.” I’d like to see Dove walk the walk a little more, and being open about the retouching that goes into their ads could be a nice place to start. That being said, slapping a disclaimer on every magazine page isn’t going to change the beauty standards any more than the Surgeon General’s warnings have eradicated the world of cigarettes. Most people know that nothing in advertising is real, but that doesn’t change the effect it has on us. Instead of having to label photos as edited, I’d like to see a world where we can use computers to enhance images without altering people’s bodies beyond recognition. Maybe that’s unreasonable, but a girl can dream.