Chick Wit: Make a clean break with image talk, Dove

Posted: May 05, 2013

You've probably seen the Dove soap commercial in which a forensic artist sketches a woman according to her own description and she looks terrible, and then sketches a second picture of the woman according to a description of her by a stranger, and she looks great.

Who is surprised by this?

Not me.

I could've told you that women are their own worst critics. I also could've told you that forensic drawings make everybody look ugly.

But that's not my point herein.

The tagline of the campaign is, "You Are More Beautiful Than You Think." And everyone is hailing this as a profound way to look at women's self-esteem, or for women to look at their own self-esteem.

I don't agree.

I think it really doesn't matter if you're beautiful or not.

Let's be real.

I don't need a forensic sketch to tell me what I really look like, because I have a mirror. And to tell the truth, every time I look in the mirror, I have the exact opposite reaction:

I thought I looked better than that.

It's not like I have a big ego or think that I'm especially attractive. But I can tell you that when I look in a mirror, it's a disappointment. So I don't even want to think about what would happen if I ran into a forensic sketch artist and he started drawing me. I might take his pencil and stick it where the sun don't shine.

In other words, my own personal tagline should be, "I'm Not As Beautiful As I Think."

But who cares?

I'm not a model.

I'm a writer, a mother, and a 57-year-old woman. Bottom line, I'm fine with how I look, even though I'm not beautiful.

And all I want from Dove soap is to get me clean.

When did a soap company get to be our national therapist?

I wish Dove would get out of the self-esteem business and figure out how to get me even cleaner, longer. Or how to make soap with more suds, because I like a lot of suds.

Dove, don't flatter me by telling me I'm not only beautiful, but more beautiful than I think. Because I wasn't born yesterday, and I don't look it.

In other words, don't lather me up, just lather me up.

I guarantee we'll never see a soap commercial like that for men. Nobody will ever sell soap by talking about how men are handsomer than they think. In the first place, most men aren't half as handsome as they think, but they don't care.

And they're right.

I like Dove soap, but I don't need it to build my self-image. And I don't want it to do so by telling me that I'm more beautiful than I think, because it assumes that beauty is the key to our self-esteem. What should matter to women is who we are and how we act, and if we set our own dreams and fulfill them.

None of that has anything to do with what we look like.

It's what you do, not what you look like, that makes you feel happy and good about yourself.

And even ugly women deserve self-esteem.

Dove might know something about soap, but its analysis - like beauty itself - is only skin-deep.

I don't even give it an A for effort. Dove has us worrying about the wrong things. Dove isn't our friend, it's our frenemy.

I think that this is the softest sales job ever.

And you know who's taking a bath?

Women.


Look for Lisa and Francesca's columns in their newest collection, "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim." Also, look for Lisa's new novel, "Don't Go," in stores now. You can write to Lisa at lisa@scottoline.com.

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