Dove has come out with another visually compelling campaign directed to women about their obsession with appearance. This one, while breathtaking, made me feel defenseless as the mother of a daughter. Parents KNOW there’s a problem. Where are the solutions in this ad?
Where is the support?
I’ve spent the past 17 years trying to manage the sheer onslaught of merchandise nonsense choices my daughter has had since her birth. In the new Dove ad, we’re subjected to a constant stream of images of women physically torturing their bodies to achieve “beauty”. They starve it. They cut it. They dye it. They shave it. They cover it up with makeup and show it off with clothing that some men claim says women “deserve” to be raped.
Why do clothing designers continually create merchandise that supports this view that women and girls are nothing more than sex objects, slaves and prisoners? Why have you given us shirts that only go to the middle of the chest on five year olds? Why are dresses and skirts so short that girls can’t run and play and tumble like the boys can?
To lure young girls into wearing thongs and into their stores, which were traditionally for adult women, Victoria’s Secret launched their “Pink” line of sweat pants and barely-there tops. Who in the heck did they were kidding with this trap?
The Dove ad ends with this statement:
“Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does.”
While we’re at it, let’s dump Barbie, the perfect blond chick with tiny waist and breasts that for all eternity will never sag or stretch. My daughter was faced with Britney Spears lunch boxes and school bags and songs about sex targeted to 11 year olds. This wasn’t the “beauty industry”. This was the entertainment business.
This was MTV and years and years of barely clothed women and topless men singing about “big butts” and describing how to conduct every possible sexual act by creating a new language that needed de-coding to understand what they were referring to.
My daughter, from toddler age on, has been subjected to the theory that she is for viewing pleasure only. Nothing else about her could possibly matter.
And nothing I, her father, or her step-parents, grandparents, neighbors, girl scout leaders, teachers and church members said ever made a dent against the constant weight of marketing influence in stores, TV, music, movies, magazines, and peer pressure at school.
We had attended one church specifically that held separate classes for the girls from the boys, so that the teachers could work with the girls’ self esteem. This church took the problem facing girls seriously. And even at that, my daughter found little help. I think in some ways she felt worse, despite being given tools intended to empower her.
It confused her that she HAD to do that. She was a kid! Why was the world mad at her? What had she done wrong?
I watched my Honor Roll daughter fall into the fathom of hell in her 9th grade year because she felt “ugly”. She insisted on shaving her entire body, including her eyebrows and arms. She could find no logical reason for body hair because she didn’t see it on models anywhere. It took everything I had to keep her alive during this time because she felt so bad in her own skin.
What was I supposed to say and do? What hadn’t I tried? We can throw out the TV, monitor the computer and I went ballistic over most Rap music. But, as a working mom, I am not with her every minute of the day. When I was a single working mom, I needed daycare. When she was with her Dad, he had different rules.
There are so many things we can’t do and because we can’t, we feel we’re failures. The tortured souls of our daughters are our fault.
I HAVE been talking to her!
I’ve been told she’s so beautiful that I shouldn’t put pictures of her on the Internet because it’s not safe.
It’s not safe to be beautiful.
And yet this is what marketers have convinced women to be at all costs.
Don’t tell me to talk to my daughter, Dove, unless you first stop making any products intended on making my daughter anything other than the incredibly vibrant human being I pushed into this world.
Please direct your campaign to your industry.
They created this mess in the first place.
(View Dove Ad here.)