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Last night, @Dove tweeted to me, a few other bloggers and later, Time Magazine that we ought to read their latest note on Facebook:

Dove is committed to representing beauty of all ages, ethnicities, shapes and sizes, and actively works toward raising self-esteem in women and young girls globally. We have used a wide variety of women in our images. We have shown women as young as 20 and as old as 95, women with blond hair, red hair, short hair, long hair and no hair; with freckles, without freckles; with wrinkles, with tattoos and real curves.

Unfortunately, this casting notice was not approved by the brand or agency team and did not reflect the spirit of the brand team’s vision. We appreciate that this has been brought to our attention and we are taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future. We believe our images demonstrate that real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and ages and we remain committed to featuring realistic and attainable images of beauty in all our advertising.

While I appreciate that Dove seems to be vowing that they do as they say and say as they do… something about this still seems fishy. If not affiliated with the agency team, then who? A lone wolf photographer who was randomly hired somehow with absolutely no idea re: the values of the Real Beauty campaign? Someone–if only one who is partially affiliated with the company—seemed to get the wrong idea somehow, and I’d like to know why. But, I’m also a snoopy, feminist journalist who can’t stop asking questions. Maybe I ought to be content with this semi-explanation.

What do you think?

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Dear Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

I’m really disappointed in you! Being that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working in media, being privy to print photography decision-making, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by your recent actions. Still, I’m saddened by the news, according to Jezebel and The Huffington Post, that your recent Craigslist ad reveals your true, not so pretty colors.

The print casting call (below) illustrates that you’re not actually 100% interested in Real Beauty. I’ll give you credit for wanting to photograph women who are real—as in not mannequins, Disney animatrons or Victoria’s Secret models… But, I’m dismayed that you seem to want to feature women who as close to these examples as real comes.

Curvy (you know, whatever that means)? You’ll say “NEXT!” Athletic? Hell no. (Although, I’m not quite sure why you aren’t down with fit chicks.) Women who don’t have “FLAWLESS, beautiful hair and skin”? You won’t even bother. While you were at it, how come you didn’t include a range of acceptable body mass indexes (BMIs) for candidates to adhere to? Maybe that would get you as much press as American Apparel.  

Maybe you read this study from back in March, which found that overweight women don’t like looking at thin models or overweight models. My guess is that if you’re factoring these findings in, you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to deliver exactly what sells to American women who you hope will buy your products. Perhaps you’re under the impression that pseudo-real is the best way to go.

But, you know what, Dove? Personally, I’d be thrilled to see you feature women who look like me or my best friend—short, pear or apple-shaped, blemishes, bumps and all. I’m sure I can find more than few other “real women” who agree…???

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