You may remember, a while ago Dove won over the hearts (and wallets) of American women in droves with the release of their "Real Women" campaign. Dove has always been a strong proponent of exposing the fashion-industrial complex, warts and all, even while they toil and profit in its trenches. Nonetheless, they've made a business out of attempting to redefine the public image of the feminine ideal throughout the beauty industry. Many women bought it.
Now, it seems, the make-up is melting off faster than a Murray Hill Pinkberry shop in Mid-July.
In a recent article, the New Yorker let us in on some conflicting information that has the corporate brass at Dove shrugging their elegant, digitally-smoothed shoulders at the question, "Airbrushed or untouched?" In retrospect, the Dove juggernaut of "real" women parading across our billboards in their skivvies did seem to be strangely devoid of wrinkles or lumps considering the authenticity of these human bodies that appeared to have crossed paths with a turkey sandwich here and there. And rightly so, because turkey sandwiches are fantastic.
While most women I know don't feel particularly exploited by the fashion model celebrity craze, neither do they feel very empowered by its aesthetics standards. The words fascist and rehab come to mind. What's so uncomfortably laid bare by this article is not that airbrushing is ubiquitous. Rather, it's that a company like Dove would predicate its corporate philosophy (or marketing strategy) on a double hypocrisy. We know if you're mugging for a magazine, your image will be manipulated more than Katie Holmes at a Scientology convention. But we don't usually expect to be force-fed a pseudo-progressive message while unwittingly eating up the same artifice as before, just with a slightly larger waist size. I guess I miss the "open secret" that the fashion mags churn out (pimple-free America!) because the real fabrication surrounding Dove's corporate integrity is so much uglier. Oh well, back to worshipping the Wintour.
Another video segment addressing the issue here, courtesy of Newsweek.