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February 14, 2006



I love that commerical you mentioned, but when I went to the webpage for the campaign, I saw that they were tied to the Girl Scouts Uniquely Me program. The Girl Scouts are at least at the higher levels tied tightly to Planned Parenthood, which as a former girl scout makes me terribly sad. I work for a program that promotes adolescent sexual health through abstinence and teen pregnancy prevention and Girl Scouts will not work with us. Their world thinking day was this month and focused on girls health. We offered our resources and didn't even get a "No Thank You". While I love the looks of this campaign, I have hesitated to support it...Do you know anymore about their programs? Who they work with? I would love to hear that it is with wholesome, worthy programs that support girls and women with out disregard for modesty, healthy and the whole person. I know there has been a big stink about American Girls and Girls, Inc. and while I don't think know that I would go and picket a store, I know that I will silently do my part by not purchasing.

Alexandra Foley

Is this the same advertiser/campaign that had ads with "overweight" women lined up in their white underwear a few months back? If so, I remember there was some criticism for the fact that these women were hardly overweight but just normal looking. A tempest in a teapot, perhaps.

I liked the freckles commercial I saw on tv recently, though, I have to admit that I got irritated at a line they used about "campaign for self-esteem" or something like that. I think the more our society and schools "pumps-up" children's self-esteem the more damage they can do because ultimately kids realize that you are doing just that -- pumping up their self-esteem and thus know it is a crock. Ultimately, self-esteem seems to only come from humility - or one's understanding of oneself vis a vis God.

Did I just go too far in commenting on soap commercial?


Boy, as a parent of a beautiful little girl with a portwine stain on her face I'm ready for society to wisen up and get over vanity. I find where I struggled with my own issues of measuring up to the beauty queens I now have to instill what is worthy, pure, and honest with my own daughter's self esteem. Since God gave me this little girl my whole view on what is beautiful has completely changed and what I love most about my daughter right now is her love of diversity in those around her. My daughter is teaching me.

Mary O

I'm with Alexandra on this, I think the whole "self-esteem movement" has gone overboard. The ideal feminine beauty in the popular culture changes every generation. Models are certainly more ethnically diverse than they were 20 years ago, but much skinnier. If one believes in more eternal truths, then the latest version of beauty doesn't matter at that much.

I don't think society will "wise up and get over beauty", there's something very fundamental going on here - probably based in biology. Scientific studies into human responses to beauty have shown that symmetry of facial features is a major determinant of beauty. Even babies gaze longer at faces of women deemed beautiful. Beauty in young women provides a genetic advantage in publicizing their fertility.

Not everyone is beautiful, and it doesn't diminish us plain folk that some people are more beautiful than others. I don't feel badly when I watch the Olympics and see athletes who are stronger and faster than I am. I think about beauty in a similar way, it can be admired for its aesthetics, and it doesn't take away from my personal worth.

Freckles and wine stains will eventually be treasured as a sign of uniqueness by one's true love.


Since there is so much talk here about beauty and freckles, I thought I would post the poem "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which praises God for creating spotted and dappled things:

GLORY be to God for dappled things— /
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; /
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; /
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; /
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; /
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. /

All things counter, original, spare, strange; /
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) /
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; /
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: /
Praise him.

Wendy Shalit

Love it! I, too, am very pro-freckle.

Merav Levy

I am a really big fan of the Dove campaign. I think it's great that it is trying to appeal to the average woman and make her feel as though her own unique shape is beautiful.

I was actually speaking to a few of my guy friends on the subject. I was surprised by their reaction to the advertisements, though their tastes are generally shaped by the image of beauty society feeds them, they found the models to be rather attractrive...but then again.. this is also an image of beauty that society is feeding them... and of course, the fact that they are scantily clad females on public display, could play a role in that preference.
Also, I find the points that Mary and Alexandra brought up very interesting, about the hype society is creating on self-esteem. Thinking about it, I guess it could have the opposite affect of the one intended. Maybe there is a girl with freckles that never knew she was supposed to have LOW self-esteem because of them, but now she realizes she is supposed to. Like a person that never knew blondes were supposed to be dumb, until someone commented that they surprisingly weren't a "dumb blonde". (k, maybe that analogy didn't work as well.. but I hope you get it my point.)

Truthfully though, all critical analysis aside, I think the campaign is wonderful and I hope that society takes on this fad of appreciating beauty in all the different and unique packaging it comes in. I think all women are beautiful in their own right, and shouldn't be made to feel they have to fit into a preconstructed mould in order to earn that title.

Taking the reality view of this, their commercial was not to build the confidence of young girls. It was to sell soap. They spent enormous expense of Superbowl minutes, for the primary reason to get us girls to pull their brand off the shelf, and stick their products in our carts. The primary goal is to get more market share from that commercial.

But if the average person on the street, still says, "Unilever? Never heard of it." They'll dump that commercial faster than you can blink an eye. Their primary purpose is for you to have rosy feelings about their brand, and thus for your hand to feel a magnetic pull to their item on the shelf. I can guarantee that as that commercial runs, there is a marketing analyst at Unilever who is looking through reams of small print data over large cups of coffee to see if they had a spike in sales, or increased brand awareness.

Leading up to filming that commercial, the marketing teams analyzed market research data, in conjunction with an ad agency to figure out how who to target. In this case, they determined a superbowl profile -- moms who are sitting next to a guys/boys and watching oversized men clobber each other on a football field, and who reflected opinions of self-esteem in market research.

The ad is still running--so they will continue to pay $$ to put that ad on TV shoes that are watched by sympathetic mom's with soap purchasing inclinations.

In the end, the marketing dollars are only reflecting what they believe their data tell them. If the ad agency can sell soap by putting insecure girls on screen, they will. It is a reflection of what their data tells them, and not really something out their kindness of their heart.

Also--remember the "behind the scenes" ...There was someone at the ad agency who went through a large list of faces to "cast" that commercial. There were likely a lot of eager mom's wanting their girl picked--many girls probably got rejected for not having that cute, sad freckled look. Then there was make-up sessions, lighting, and piles of clothes that some costume designer picked through to find the right "insecure but cute" outfit for the chosen girl. Then there is all camera people with lights, directions, staging, and waiting for the girl to have the "right" sad/insecure look. With some girls, in the end, getting cut completely because her reflective look wasn't right. For the girls who got picked, I doubt their self-esteem was improved in the process. But their mom's ego probably was.

It's totally about sales. The ad might make us feel good, but even if they create negative hype, some market research says your brain still remembers the brand, and it causes you to feel an inclination to by it out of sheer familiarity.

They have to get a return on investment in ad dollars spent. And if you don't spend, they drop the ad.


Merav Levay, I totally agree. You have made some excellent points. The paragraph below really stands out.

"In the end, the marketing dollars are only reflecting what they believe their data tell them. If the ad agency can sell soap by putting insecure girls on screen, they will. It is a reflection of what their data tells them, and not really something out their kindness of their heart."

I know from experience how sick and sleazy the Ad World is. You are right they don't care about the person buying the soap. They care about selling the soap and making money from the account. It is because of that experience I don't swoon over advertising anymore. As a matter of fact I have been without cable and mainstream "chick" magazines for over 3 years. My self esteem thanks me.

Merav Levy

Alison, I agree with the earlier comment of the ad world being a money making venture only, not really concerning itself with the negative or positive effects of its campaigns, and less so making that a priority for their marketing strategies. But I did not write that comment, whoever did seems to be well informed on the matter and would like to remain anonymous, I would love to take credit for it, but won't.

However, I do think the point being made about the soap commercial, was less about the raw look at the strategies Dove uses to get more sales, and more about the effect of inspiring people ( especially women of all ages) to be more self confident in their skins, whatever shape, color and texture it comes in. To stop comparing themselves to the unrealistic image of beauty the media presents us with and start appreciating the beauty with in themselves.

leontine van ocken

I completely agree with Wendy's comment about a girl who 'didn't know she was supposed to have low self-esteem because she had freckles'.
I have always felt that my red hair and freckles were striking and individual - and I thought everyone else did too!I was so angry (spitting chips actually)to see the Dove ads depicting freckles as an affliction to rise above. They're starting from a very narrow and mainstream idea of beauty to begin with and I also hate their pretence to champion women and their beauty issues - i think they're part of the problem.

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