Preferred Perfect

How women perceive beauty in advertising

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty


The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty originally began in England in 2004 as a way to make women feel beautiful regardless of their age and size. According to the Campaign for Real Beauty website, it is described as “A global effort intended to serve as a starting point for societal change and to act as a catalyst for widening the definition and discussion of beauty.”

In order to begin to abandon the method of portraying “perfect” women as beauty role models, researchers for the campaign conducted “The Real Truth About Beauty Study” (9). The study, gathering data from 3,200 women aged 18-64 and from ten different countries, was a way for researchers to explore what beauty actually means to women today and how they feel about female’s beauty portrayal in society (9).

Although the study provided an extensive amount of research and data, some specific and disturbing statistics were found. Only 2% of women described themselves as beautiful, 63% thought women today are expected to be more physically attractive than their mother’s generation, 60% thought society expects women to enhance their physical attractiveness, and 91% thought advertising needs to do a better job of representing realistic images of women (9).


This advertisement from Dove titled “Evolution” explores how the media perceives what beauty looks like today, and how this portrayal is narrowed into an even small window by the altering of “real” women.

With a mission to broaden the definition of beauty and promote self esteem in women, after the global study was conducted, all of Dove’s advertisements turned to advertise and support diversity in womens’ body shapes, sizes, and ages (13). The ads featured six “average” women outside the stereotypical norms of beauty; all with different body types, dress sizes, and ethnicities (6). Success from this campaign inspired thousands of women to Dove’s website to discuss and debate society’s beauty issues.


Today the campaign is focused on self esteem in young girls and the impact that media’s unrealistic and unattainable images of beauty affect them (6). The campaign is helping girls and women alike to understand that the women they see in advertisements and in the media are altered and unrealistic. In order to show this difference, the campaign has released several online videos and commercials such as their famous “Evolution” ad shown above which dramatizes how the media changes a woman’s face to appear “more beautiful” (6). Another one of the campaign’s controversial and thought-provoking advertisements is “Onslaught,” where the audience is shown the different forms of media that the beauty industry is constantly persuading society with which affect perceptions of beauty today. The brutality and reality of some of the images can be painful to watch.




1 Comment»

  Steve wrote @

Love the video integration as part of one of the early pages. Really brings home visually the essence of the issue and sets the stage for the material which follows.

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