During one of my discussions with Board members from the Australian Women’s Forum they highlighted the hypocrisy inherent in many of the programs that say they are designed to promote healthy body image. Apart from magazines that pretend to be “a girl’s best friend” whilst feeding their insecurities and advocating consumerism, other cosmetic companies are now using the “we care about girls / want to promote a positive body image” as a marketing ploy.
Dove has launched their REAL Beauty campaign and hope to promote a teacher training seminar through schools. Whilst some of the materials they have put together may well be useful ( have you seen the You Tube clip that shows the truth about airbrushing? Evolution? well worth a look)
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There are obviously some real conflicts of interest when Dove’s core business is selling beauty creams and cellulite potions! What really infuriates me though are the mixed messages. Dove is owned by Unilever – Unilever are also responsible for Impulse (no REAL beauty messages there – the slogan is “Feel irresistible”) and LYNX. You may have seen the LYNX ad’s – where pretty girls are reduced to uncontrollable sexual gyrations at the mere smell of Lynx on really plain / inappropriate men ( one girl resorts to stripping the much older father of her boyfriend!). Not good enough. These ad’s are completely inappropriate and only reinforce the sexualisation and objectification of women.
A Year 8 girl in a workshop I ran recently in Canberra pointed the Lynx ad’s out as causing her real anxiety…as we were running the new “Wake Up Sleeping Beauty” workshop at the time she drew a very clever parallel –
“It is like the old Ugly Duckling / Beauty and the Beast story – girls are meant to see the inner hotness in all guys and just fall at them. Where are the plain girls that can be transformed though? Plus why are girls always acting like strippers on TV nowadays? It is embarrassing to watch.”
If you’re looking for another very clever clip (that is not ultimately designed by Unilever to rake up sales and get their brands into our classrooms) show your girls the short film produced by Kiri Davis entitled A Girl Like Me.
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It looks at the promotion of skin whitening by the beauty industry and the profound effect this is having on girls from different cultures – who start to see their dark skin as the enemy. It is really moving…