As a society, we have strived long and hard to reach the goal of attaining diversity – or is it only on the surface?
Dove has been one of the first companies to step up to address the societal problems regarding diversity and acceptance through their Real Beauty Campaign, which was launched in 2004. The campaign incorporates billboard advertisements, videos, and workshops to promote positive body image and embrace the real truth about beauty.
However, there has been criticism directed towards Dove and it has recently escalated with the controversy surrounding their new advertisement. The three-second video clip was uploaded on its Facebook page and was immediately faced with public outrage and scrutiny for being “racially insensitive”. The advertisement showed a black woman removing a brown shirt to reveal a white woman underneath, who was then succeeded by a Middle Eastern woman. The video clip was part of a thirty-second ad, and the models of color who participated in the filming of the advertisement have expressed their understanding of the message behind the video and have defended Dove. Nevertheless, the video clip has since been taken down.
Jennifer L. Pozner is the executive director of “Women in Media and News”, a national media analysis, education, and advocacy group. According to an interview with the Huffington Post, she has expressed her displeasure with the incongruence between the beauty campaigns and products marketed by Dove. She furthered her point by saying, “if the stated goal of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign is for girls and women to understand that their power and their beauty does not come from a tube or an airbrush or a cream, but rather from their own personalities and power, then the company would not sell certain products that they sell”.
Furthermore, the parent company of Dove is Unilever, which additionally manages the controversial product lines Axe, Fair and Lovely, and Slim-Fast. Axe sells men’s grooming products and objectifies women in their advertisements to cater to the male audience. Fair and Lovely advertises skin-whitening creams in India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, promoting the message that with lighter skin, popularity and success can be achieved. Slim-Fast produces weight-loss drinks, encouraging people to slim down. It does not make logical sense that under such a controversial parent company, Dove has campaigns to promote diversity and universal acceptance of all woman.
Through the power of media, coupled with effective marketing strategies, the 21st century has attempted to create a sense of diversity on the surface-level of society. However, racism and a lack of diversity is still present today, underlying the seemingly inclusive and positive messages that are heavily promoted by the media. It may take years, maybe even decades, for acceptance to be fully achieved, but as members of society, we must take initiative and join together in fighting for diversity in the 21st century.