Going viral on my twitter and Facebook feeds is this Dove Real Beauty campaign:

“Gil Zamora is an FBI-trained forensics artist with over 3,000 criminal sketches under his belt. Dove and Ogilvy Toronto hired him to interview and draw seven different women—two sketches of each. The first sketch was based on each woman’s personal description of herself. The second was based on a description provided by a stranger the woman had just met. Of course, the differences are vast. Watching these women come face to face with the version of themselves in their mind and the version everyone else sees is extraordinary.”

(Via Dove Hires Criminal Sketch Artist to Draw Women as They See Themselves and as Others See Them | Adweek.)

It really is stunning to see the difference in description.

When I have more time, I want to find out how they double blinded this. If they used the same artist, and he was aware that one was the stranger describing themselves, and the other the person who met them describing them, he would have been unconsciously influenced if he knew what the outcome of this experiment was supposed to be.

This is an advertisement by Dove. But I’d like to see the experiment done with two different sketch artists, so that there wasn’t a pressure on the artist to deliver a more ‘beautiful’ result (whether unconsciously or because he knew where his paycheck was coming from).

As a demonstration, brilliant. Much needed.

As a science experiment, I think it would be interesting to try it again with some controls to see if the experiment holds.

A much better meta-critique of the whole thing is found here:

And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is. It doesn’t really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is, and it doesn’t really tell us that fitting inside that definition isn’t the most important thing. It doesn’t really push back against the constant objectification of women. All it’s really saying is that you’re actually not quite as far off from the narrow definition as you might think that you are (if you look like the featured women, I guess).

And actually, it almost seems to remind us how vital it is to know that we fit society’s standard of attractiveness .

Yes, a viral video saying ‘you’re more beautiful than you think you are’ does actually reinforce conventional beauty, even though I think Dove’s intention wasn’t to do that, the soup of grounded assumptions is interesting.

“See, you’re not as ugly as you think you are” may not actually be the most empowering tag line in the world. I agree with the above blogger. The fact that so many people were touched by just being told “see you’re not as ugly as you think you are” is still, though, a pretty damning indictment of where things stand.

Though Dove is a large corporation, the fact that so many shared the piece and were affected by it is an indication of something interesting going on, and I would be slow to just dismiss it at hand. Something hit home.