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August 01, 2005

Check Those Goalposts!

Am I the only one unimpressed by the Dove ads? I mean, I'm all for curvy women getting their media due, but this doesn't quite seem the vehicle. Dove is not saying Big is Beautfiul, Real is Beautiful, or anything similar. They're not putting everyday bodies on billboards for their soap or commercials for their lotion. These are husky girls on billboards promoting a product for husky girls.

It's firming cream, the sort of thing most thin people don't need. What's fascinating is that Dove's got all this good press for doing the only thing, in a rational world, that makes sense: putting heavy people on ad for a product aimed at heavy people. That's not to say we have a rational advertising industry or that there's no imaginable world in which Kate Moss would be posing in front on this product she'd never need, but it's fairly pathetic that they get all this good press for something so small. More to the point, Dove is doing exactly what's always done: creating an impossible standard. The women in this ad are impossibly smooth and unnaturally firm. It's lighting and so forth that does it, not the cream, and it's as unattainable as any waist size.

August 1, 2005 in Life | Permalink

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Comments

amen!

Posted by: kate | Aug 1, 2005 5:48:08 PM

Come on, Ezra, the cosmetics industry sells dreams. The power of positive thinking at work (placebos).

America isn't ready for billboards with cellulite butts winking at passing drivers.

Wouldn't any sane person want a dovish butt?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 1, 2005 5:48:38 PM

Actually, thin people get cellulite too. What would be great is if clothing makers did this a bit, because it is really hard to buy clothes that fit well.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Aug 1, 2005 5:58:05 PM

Maybe thin 20 year olds don't "need" (in scare quotes because, well, no one reall needs it) firming cream. A little less true for 35 year olds (whether thin or not).

Posted by: Glynda | Aug 1, 2005 6:14:38 PM

World's full of fat women. So what?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 1, 2005 6:24:07 PM

You can argue that the dove campaign is a baby step. But it's a baby step in a direction nobody has been willing to take. Do you know that even stores specializing in plus-sized clothes use non-plus-sized models in their catalogs? We are living in a commercial climate where the bodies of regular-sized women are considered radioactive.

Read the conclusion of the slate article you linked to giving the ad a long term grade of "D" because by featuring regular sized women, Dove is tarring themselves forever as the brand of fat girls.

I can live with impossibly firm skin in an ad for a firming product. What I feel seriously oppressed by is impossibly thin women in every ad for every product. From ads for pills to treat genital herpes to fast food commercials. All size 0 to 2s.

Posted by: battlepanda | Aug 1, 2005 6:26:32 PM

I thought the campaign was for their soap, not strictly for a firming cream.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs | Aug 1, 2005 8:45:35 PM

I'm fairly sure it's strictly for firming cream, at least all of the ads, billboards, and bus panels in my area.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | Aug 1, 2005 9:11:58 PM

Looked over my wife's shoulder while she was scanning Back to School clothes ads--Target has some "big boned" teenagers modelling fall fashions. I believe this may be less of an attempt at scoring social brownie points just an fact that people are larger now and there is a need to market that reality.

Posted by: harv | Aug 1, 2005 10:29:16 PM

I'm never sure what I'm supposed to think on this issue. Is the big problem in American life the obesity epidemic that is creating horrible health problems for an increasing number of Americans? Or is it the eating disorders that endanger the lives of so many young women due to their desire to live up to the standards of the absurdly thin women who model and appear on TV and in movies?

I mean, really, what the fuck? I don't think I've ever seen a media report on either of these issues which addresses the two issues together in any way at all. Reports on obesity are always about how Americans are now all big porkers (complete with those wonderful neck down images of ridiculously obese people walking around), and how unhealthy this is (although one suspects that TV news enjoys reporting this mostly so they can show neck down images of ridiculously obese people walking around, rather than out of actual concern for people's health), but never seem to talk about the "culture of thinness" that they love to talk about so much when they're talking about eating disorders. Discussions of eating disorders discuss how much thinner the people we see on TV are than ordinary Americans, but never mention the fact that "ordinary Americans" are much fatter than they should be.

Posted by: John | Aug 2, 2005 1:21:59 AM

The Slate article says that the models range from size 4 to size 12. Size 4 is very small! My niece is a size 4 and she weighs about 105 pounds. And size 12 is about average. So how is this "plus-size"? Nutso.

Posted by: allie | Aug 2, 2005 2:53:38 AM

Given that more than 60% of American women are overweight or obese, the big problem is probably not a 'culture of thinness'. It's not a very widely accepted culture, for one thing. The dominant culture would seem to be a 'culture of eating too much and not getting enough exercise' - a 'culture of fat'. Just looking at the results, I would assume that being thin is not a high priority for most Americans. It's something they think it would be nice to have, but not to the extent of actually working for. Me, I'd like to be able to play the piano - but it's not high enough up the list for me to actually take lessons, practice, etc. I have other priorities.

Posted by: ajay | Aug 2, 2005 6:29:45 AM

Thin people have cellulite. I hate to break it to you. No amount of working out or dieting will keep the cheese off the thighs. So the product is for thin women as well, but the ugly truth is firming creams don't work.

Posted by: Amanda | Aug 2, 2005 8:10:33 AM

In fact, apparently Tyra Banks has a lot of cellulite.

Posted by: Amanda | Aug 2, 2005 8:11:29 AM

FYI, Wal-Mart has been using "large" models for years now, not because they have an enlightened agenda but because they're such cheapskates they use their own employees to model clothes. They draw the line at swimwear, however.

Posted by: David W. | Aug 2, 2005 9:02:00 AM

In fact, apparently Tyra Banks has a lot of cellulite.

Jealousy is a really ugly emotion.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 2, 2005 10:18:55 AM

"Walmart...."

Ooo how very American Apparel of them.

Posted by: Kate | Aug 2, 2005 11:34:13 AM

Clearly I am no expert on cellulite...

Posted by: Ezra Klein | Aug 2, 2005 11:38:37 AM

The problem with these ads is that is promotes the mentality that it's ok to be bigger...Now before everyone jumps down my throat let me clarify!
I think most models are TOO SKINNY, which of couse breeds unhealthy body images among women. "Most women in America are a size 12 or larger," people say. Well, this may be the case, but this is NOT necessarily healthy. We need to see more ads with ATHLETIC models, not the anorexic sticks or the overly curvy "average woman." Americans are some of the most obese people in the world...Stop thinking it's OK just because most people are bigger!!

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