On Thursday quanta and I went to see the Dove Real Beauty Photo Exhibit. I enjoyed it very much, but I have mixed feelings about it.
First, the idea is quite a good one. It is nice to see photos of ordinary women (excepting a few famous people like Dixie Evans and Gwyneth Paltrow) who are all beautiful in their own way. I found the two pictures of the same Japanese woman (photo 20 on the website) very telling. In each picture she is wearing a different outfit with a different expression; and it is truly amazing how different she looks.
The exhibit is also very encouraging, because it shows that even regular women in everyday situations are beautiful. Not a surprise really, if you’ve ever stopped to look at your female friends and relatives going about their daily lives.
But I can’t quiet my cynical side. It keeps reminding me that Dove is doing this to make money. It’s a marketing campaign, pure (99 44/100%) and simple. As you leave the exhibit you are given a small package with samples of three Dove products, as well as chance to buy a t-shirt or a catalog of the exhibit. Admittedly the money goes towards the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, but I still found the merchandising odd.
I really want to believe that Dove’s motives are altruistic, but I’m not so sure that they are. It is lovely that they are celebrating “real beauty”, but isn’t it a bit hypocritical that they also sell anti-aging creams and vitamins?