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April 24, 2007


Liz Neville

Lily-- glad to hear from you! On the Dove ad, I think I'm with the folks who understand that a dramatic approach is necessary to get attention in this media age, and that the message redeems anything one might find objectionable about the amount of skin shown. The product is a skin-care line, so it is clearly warranted and not gratuitous.It is also modest in terms of the poses, and it does celebrate beauty that is not conventional, but simply human.


Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Dove ads. The ladies wear modest underwear, and it doesn't seem to be meant to arouse anyone.

I love the fact that these women--the curvy ones, the skinny ones, the older ones, and the young ones--are all being portrayed as beautiful. It shows real female bodies, and reminds women that they don't have to look like Kate Moss to be beautiful.


My problem with the pro age and the older ads featuring various body types is that they still connect being beautiful with nudity. This is especially true in the pro age ads where the women are completely naked. Why can't they have the women in nice modest clothes and still say women are beautful. Soft skin on the forearm of a woman can tell me just as much about a product as an entire naked body without over exposing the models. While I think the goal of making all women feel beautful is commendable (though we need to remember that their ultimate goal is to make money) all they are really doing is using women's body to sell a product. And, it's still immodest and exploitive even if the women are not the ones usually seen as desirable. The ends don't justify the means.


In a certain way, I dislike the pro-age ads even more than I dislike, say, A&F ads with young models wearing very revealing clothing. The reason is because the Dove pro-age ads, in their quest to demonstrate that ideals of beauty are flawed or hurtful, begin to take things a step beyond reality. For an extreme example, I challenge you to find me any 80 year old woman whose nudity is as sexually attractive as that of a typical 20 year old. Regardless of one's personal concepts of beauty, there is an absolute difference here in sexual attractiveness. Conversely, if your purpose is to demonstrate the falsehood of equating sexual attractiveness with beauty, then why would you show naked bodies at all??? My personal position is that there are different kinds of beauty and that sexual beauty is merely one of them (and far from the most important). While I believe that the Dove ads are attempting to demonstrate this very idea, I also believe that doing so by showing nude bodies of older women objectifies precisely what they try to condemn. To both young and elderly women out there I say: you ARE beautiful. And you don't ever need to display your naked bodies to prove it.


To be honest, simply being nude does not represent sexuality to me. I have seen more provocative images of fully clothed women.
Nudity can sometimes be about art and the body being beautiful in itself. I think the images in this ad come into this catagory. The women are not in sexual poses. They are nude yes, but not sexual. I actually thought these women were very beautiful in a raw, natural way. I think they successfully showed a woman as being beautiful without being a sexaul object!


Congrats, Lily!

The day Dove gives us a poster featuring mostly-naked men is the day I start buying their skin lotion. If the poster is directed at heterosexual women, I'll buy two bottles.


I've felt like a bit of a stick-in-the-mud for not really liking the Dove ads. The women in the shots are all lovely and happy looking, big, small, tall, curvy, skinny, brown, pink- but there was, at least in my country, a number on the ad you could call to 'vote' for whether 'real bodies' were as beautiful as models' bodies. I'd sorta rather women's bodies weren't subject to a poll AT ALL, despite the fact that the results were that most people said they WERE beautiful. I do acknowledge there is a sort of 'cultural pendulum' thing going on with this.


Although I have to commend Dove for using such a wide variety of body types and ages in this campaign, the premise is the same (and the reason I tend to avoid most "beauty" products): Use our product, and you will be beautiful. Of course I use the basics and I'm not above buying a really great lotion every once in awhile. I just dislike the idea that these health and beauty companies make us think we have to use their products to make our bodies beautiful.

With that said, aesthetically, I can appreciate the layout of the ads. They are quite striking and despite the lack of clothing in some of them, more modest than many other ads by similar companies. I've never seen that horribly immodest come hither look on the faces of any of these women. I suppose they do help convey the idea that women are beautiful no matter their shape or age but why can't this be a series of PSA's instead of health and beauty ads?!


Perhaps the dove ads are trying to convey that it is possible for a woman to be beautiful even if she is not as sexually attractive as a 20 y.o. (it should be noted that not all 20 y.o.'s are sexually attractive) I do not think that it is "beyond reality" to suggest that an 80 year old woman can have a beautiful body. I believe that our society unfortunately has the erroneous attitude that all nudity is sexual in nature. It is with this faulty idea that Christian comes to the wrong position (in my opinion) mentioned in the above post. Why did Christian introduce the concept of sexual attractiveness into these ads?

If we can appreciate that there is such a concept of non-sexual nudity, then we can appreciate the beauty of the 80 year old as well as the beauty of the twenty year old.


I agree with some of the points (against the ad) here, but in the ad's favor, I have to admit that the ad is much less sexual than many ads I've seen on TV, and I find it really interesting that the ad was banned. (Wasn't it? I read that it was, but recently someone else told me that it was running.) In any event, maybe it was banned because it wasn't sexual enough, LOL.


The thing is, for us women, that is not considered sexual. But for men, that image is now forever in their memory, ready to pop back up at any time. The question shouldn't be "is this a stumbling block for ME", but "is this an unnecessary stumbling block for someone else".


Mike, I'm afraid you failed to see my point. I recognize that there is a context for non-sexual nudity (e.g. the doctor's office), and I quite understand that it is possible for an older woman to be beautiful. My point is that her beauty comes from a place other than her physical appearance and that you do not need to take her clothes off to appreciate that beauty. Just look at the implications of your closing statement: we cannot appreciate the beauty of an 80 year old without the concept of non-sexual nudity. How is that realistic? Why does she have to be nude for her beauty to be appreciated?

It is indeed beyond reality to ignore, or even to diminish, the links between physical appearance, state of undress and erotic attraction. The reason clothed-model ads can still be provocative despite lack of nudity is because they invite the viewer to imagine the nude bodies of the models portrayed, even when no nudity is actually occurring. It is more difficult to have sex with one's clothes on. It is also difficult to take showers with one's clothes on. That is why this activity, like sex, is private, and part of why public nudity is, in general, not an acceptable social outlet--because of the implications of nudity, which lie at the heart of what immodesty is all about.

Lastly, I invite you to consider that if everyone in the world was female, then these dove ads would be perfectly appropriate. As a male, I don't really have a problem going into a men's locker room--it's not the ideal situation for protecting privacy, but it's also not offensive. However, as long as there are gender differences (which there will be as long as we are human) then nudity will continue to be intertwined with immodesty.


I find myself taking up my usual spot on the fence when it comes to these ads. I did like the original Dove ads with the younger models in the underwear, and have found much to like in the new "pro-age" ads as well - the women ARE beautiful, precisely because they are shown to be aging, beautifully. And, as many have remarked, their poses are tasteful and not provocative, indeed much less provocative than many ads showing models wearing some clothing!

What keeps me from being a complete fan is the idea that nudity is necessary to convey beauty. I admit, as a woman I take some comfort from seeing these older women's bodies, complete with curves and the signs of a lifetime of living, childbearing, etc., being held up as "beautiful". That is counter-cultural in one sense - but in another sense the ads are still buying into the cultural idea that showing more skin = being thought beautiful.

mary o'hayes

I'm not a fan of the ads, mostly because they are doing what every other advertising agency does, which is use women's bodies to move a product. BUT they want to be considered progressive or morally superior to other advertising campaigns. Poppycock! It's Madison Avenue all the way.

My other objection is aesthetic. Yes, the bodies they use are "normal," but so what? Not every face or body is beautiful. It's as silly to pretend that every body is beautiful, as it is to pretend that every person is brilliant or every person is athletic. It's just not so. It seems to be part of our mushy modern culture. We no longer reward honors students with recognition - that would make the average students feel bad. We no longer award trophies and letters to the best scholastic athletes - anybody who's on the team gets an enormous trophy. When you celebrate everything, then you're not recognizing the exceptional.


When I am old I hope to be valued and respected for my life well lived, rather than simply my body. Young women are sexualized enough- can't that at least stop when we are a little older? Please?

No matter how 'body-positive' they slice it, an ad with a naked women on it is selling the woman, not the product.


I recently saw Christopher West speak (the guy who sorta translates Theology of the Body) and he talks about exposing kids to the naked human body. He mentions specifically artistic expressions that display and show the beauty of the naked body in a non-sexual way. He talks about the Sistine Chapel paintings and how one Pope covered them up and one had them uncovered. I agree that it is good for people to see the naked body in a beautiful non-sexual way. I liked the commercial and think it is about time we reclaimed the beauty of the human body. There is nothing wrong with the naked body -- it cannot be evil or bad b/c Christ came to earth as a human and we cannot say that his body was bad -- rather it is the way that we look at the human body that is the problem. If I can teach my 4 boys to appreciate the beautiful gift God has given us (our bodies) and to love their body then I think I will pass on a wonderful thing to them. If my boys could grow to be able to look at a naked form and see God's workmanship and revel in His creation rather than lust I would be one thrilled momma. I think this ad takes us closer to purity than it does to taking us closer to perversion.


My point is: while as you say: "...her (80 y.o.) beauty comes from a place other than her physical appearance..."
I believe that she can also have physical beauty, even though she is an 80 y.o. It seems to me that you do not recognize the possibility that an 80 y.o. woman can also have physical beauty since she is not "sexually attractive".

This was my intent when I said that as a society we should recognize that nudity should not be equated with sexuality or with immodesty. It is possible for people to be nude in public without being immodest. It depends on the context. An exhibitionist is acting in an immodest fashion. However, if there is no "shock value" or offense in the display of nudity, then it is NOT immodest, even in mixed gender.


This campaign seems like a bad idea for that company. Advertising should be always be idealized, for obvious reasons. Their brand will be associated with matronly older women. I doubt such an association will improve their sales among consumers who value sex and youth. If I were their head of marketing, this campaign would have died on the drawing board and I'd have fired the ad agency.


I support the Dove ads - it's so refreshing to see real women with real bodies - not the touched up, starving bodies that we are used to seeing.


Collect what you like from my response: I wrote to Dove to let them know that I would no longer be purchasing their products due to their Pro-Age commercials/ads.

There are a bevy of points on a bevy of subjects that can be made without the use of immodest advertising. Do you really think that Dove isn't doing this "selfless act of community service for women" largely for the attention and profit their company will gain from it? Though this point, in itself, would not negate a *good* marketing idea (if it *were* one), Pro-Age...when showing certain full-body shots..is NOT doing anyone a service. WHERE is the modesty we speak of with such reverence in this blog?



Matronly older women have all the dosh...


All of you who are opposed to the Dove campaign are missing its point. The reason they are using nude women of all different body types is to show different body types off and display the beauty in chunky or flat-chested, or boy-shaped bodies; to show that you are beautiful in your own skin no matter what. How are they supposed to show off different types of bodies when all of the women are wearing clothes? It's much harder to notice that a woman has a curvaceous figure or a totally flat chest when she's wearing clothes, as the clothing's shape, size and color can alter how the body looks. Contrary to the popular belief on this website, nudity is not always bad! Why should women stop displaying their bodies if they feel totally comfortable and want to? In many other countries, topless women are not viewed as sexual objects because it is seen as normal and something everyone is comfortable with. The problem is not with women displaying their bodies, it's with men's ideas and views about women's bodies.


If women are interested in discovering the beauty of diversity in womens body types, they don't need Doves assistance. Go to the gym locker room and make a discreet study of it, if you will. And, as appropriate,....no men allowed.

Dove: Just don't bring your happy, happy, skin-baring commercials into the faces of my husband, my brother, my nephews.... How many times have we, now, as women, taken the God-forsaken road of liberty with our bodies to prove our "empowerment"?

Let's remember, too, that just because something is "familiar" or we are "comfortable" with it, as a society, does not necessarily make it right in the eyes of God (...too often *not*, in fact). If we are so interested in questioning the norms now (such as whether or not the Dove commercial is appropriate), question also, "Is it moral, is it wholesome, is it right?".


Great, just what the world needs a little more of: gratuitous exploitation of yet another female demographic. All you ladies writing about how "empowering" this is don't seem to have a clue that all this amounts to is older women being just as demeaned as younger. I guess turning little girls into objects wasn't enough, we have to get the old ones now. Woo-hoo, what progress. Women, get a clue and realize there are full of catcalling, elbow-jabbing boys and men watching these. Honest to God, we're our own worst enemy.


ellen is straight-on


It's ridiculous. They aren't promoting any semblance of empowerment--true empowerment wouldn't hinge on the nudity of a group of people.

What I also don't understand, is that Dove is owned by Unilever that creates the gross ads that they claim to object to (Axe ads specifically), so what does it really matter? There's a good video spoofing Dove's add called "Talk to your daughter before Unilever does" Basically its the Dove little-girl-seeing-images add spliced with the Axe adds. Here's a link to it http://nicspic2608.wordpress.com/2007/10/29/dove-spoof-talk-to-your-daughter-before-unilever-does/

Whether old or young, they're still selling their product by using nude women.


As an artist I have to comment that alot of people are misusing the word "nude" The word most of you mean to use is "naked" Naked implies at least some sexuality or provocativeness. Nude, is just that, nude. Nude is about the beauty of the human form, and it is a wonderful thing that can be celebrated in a non-sexual way. Insisting that nudity is sexual is what causes people to get up in arms about breast feeding women. Just because a boob is there, doesn't mean it's there to arouse you. Context is everything, The body is a beautiful thing, and people who insist that all nudity is shameful or sexual are merely trying to push their own shame and lack of confidence in their bodies on others.
I have always felt that the dove beauty ads lean much more towards nude then naked. And honestly, in our culture it's one of the few pieces of media that encourages acceptance of the average body.
And personally, modesty is more how you act and carry yourself then how you dress.


"Nude" v. "naked" is a useful distinction. Reasonable people can disagree on whether it is possible for there to be a non-sexual adult "nude."

What if the ads only appeared in women's magazines and on TV networks geared towards women? That is, what if Unilever took reasonable steps to keep men from seeing them? Obviously, a man can pick up Vogue or watch Home and Garden Television, but advertisers don't purchase space there for men to see the ads. How would we, as women, feel about the ads then? I think it is a true and useful message that every woman is beautiful, even if some are more beautiful than others. Not to sound trite, but isn't every sunset beautiful, even if some are more beautiful than others? Aren't people the same?

I also believe that there is a dignity to work, and have no problem with companies advertising and selling useful, or at least non-harmful, products for fair prices. People make those products for people to use, and that making and using is a good thing.

Still, there are good and bad marketing campaigns, not just in effectiveness. We can all think of bad marketing campaigns that demean women or that reinforce unhelpful stereotypes. Other, unfortunately more rare, marketing campaigns provide helpful information while generating profits. An example might be a recipe that calls for, say, cheddar cheese printed by a particular dairy. I can use that recipe even if I don't use that brand of cheddar. I think the Dove ads are like this, except with a moral, rather than useful, message.

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