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Real Beauty Tied To
Self Esteem

The Dove Campaign For Real Beauty raised cynical eyebrows when it was launched in 2004. But today - apart from a couple of outstanding peaks in 2006 - it's getting more attention than ever. Why?

Perhaps it's best to look at the basis of this body image campaign. On September 29, 2004, the company issued a news release entitled "Only Two Percent Of Women Describe Themselves As Beautiful - New Global Study Uncovers Desire for Broader Definition of Beauty."

Among the findings of the study, were the following statistics:

  • Only two percent of women describe themselves as beautiful.
  • Sixty-three percent strongly agree that society expects women to enhance their physical attractiveness.
  • Forty-five percent of women feel women who are more beautiful have greater opportunities in life.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of women strongly agree that "the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most woman can't ever achieve."
  • The majority (76%) wish female beauty was portrayed in the media as being made up of more than just physical attractiveness.
  • Seventy-five percent went on to say that they wish the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, including age, shape and size.

Obviously, the idea from such a marketing-driven company was to raise its market share through creating buzz in an industry that lives on the leading edge of so-called "breakthroughs". In fact, Unilever, Dove’s parent company, also makes Axe, whose ads feature scantily clad, thin women who are the very stereotype Dove is trying not to portray.

It's a strategy that ensures a company can cater to different segments of a market without seeming to mix its messages.

So, while its motives were probably commercial, its effects may be far more philanthropic. The fact that the website headquarters of the campaign is stronger now than when it was launched during a Superbowl, pays testament to the accuracy of the underlying research, and the way Dove has implemented the campaign.

For instance, its Girls Only Interactive Self Esteem Zone features sections entitled How do you really feel about yourself?, How do you impact others' self esteem, Image manipulation, the self esteem bubble and other activities, and various 'ask the expert' sections.

Separate sections for moms and mentors provide workshops and discussion groups with thousands of entries.

As the original research suggested, there is a strong positive message with practical tools and support that many could find useful. See if this excerpt from the 2004 research rings any of your bells:

So What is Beautiful?

How are the women of the world defining beauty and what do they really want to see as society continues to evolve?

The study finds two-thirds of women strongly agree that physical attractiveness is about how one looks, whereas beauty includes much more of who a person is. Women rate happiness, confidence, dignity and humor as powerful components of beauty, along with the more traditional attributes of physical appearance, body weight and shape, and even a sense of style.

The respondents also see beauty in many different forms:

  • Seventy-seven percent strongly agree that beauty can be achieved through attitude, spirit and other attributes that have nothing to do with physical appearance.
  • Eighty-nine percent strongly agree that a woman can be beautiful at any age.
  • Eighty-five percent state every woman has something about her that is beautiful.
  • Not only do women agree that happiness is the primary element in making a woman beautiful, but they strongly agree that they themselves feel most beautiful when they are happy and fulfilled in their lives (86%).
  • Furthermore, 82 percent of women agree that “If I had a daughter, I would want her to feel beautiful, even if she is not physically attractive.”

So why is it getting such continued attention? Probably because it makes such downright common sense! Real beauty does lie within.

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