A couple of years ago, Dove cosmetics made a PR splash by using chubby women in their underwear who were older than 20 - but not by too much - to advertise their products. It was a pleasant departure from the skinny, drop-dead, fantasies of beauty we are accustomed to seeing in any and all ads, but it was hardly the cultural revolution Dove wanted us to believe it was.
Now Dove has launched a new campaign. The tagline alone – “This isn’t anti-age. This is pro age.” – is worth the attention. Anyone who takes on the phony-baloney anti-aging industry has my vote.
The new print and video commercials show several 50-plus, real (non-professional models) women in their birthday suits – head shots, super close-ups, wide shots – in all their varying sizes and glory. And it is glorious to see the varieties of elder women bodies. Here is the German version of the commercial from YouTube.
For the past three years, Dove has commissioned a Global Study on Aging, a survey of opinions about aging women from aging women in nine countries. Some highlights from the most recent, 2006 report [pdf]:
- 57 percent believe that if magazines were reflective of a population, a person would likely believe women older than 50 do not exist.
- 69 percent aged 50 to 64 agree that aging is often hidden rather than celebrated by women.
- 91 percent believe the media and advertising need to do a better job of representing realistic images of women older than 50.
- 75 percent believe anti-aging ads often portray unrealistic images of women older than 50 using those products.
This excellent survey, with a forward by Dr. Robert Butler of the International Longevity Center, covers many more topics about women and age, and is worth a read. Or there is a good short version with quotes from a couple of the models at The Hamilton Spectator.
Undoubtedly some will see the news story in the Spectator (and on this blog) as an unpaid advertisement, but I think it is newsworthy when a company takes a turn from the commonplace and asks us to look at women’s bodies realistically, to help push the culture toward acceptance of the changes brought on by the passage of time.
What do you think of the ads and the commercial? Should more products aimed at older women be as honest in their portrayal of women? Would you think better of the products if they did? More likely to purchase them? It would be interesting to hear some men’s point of view too.
[PS: Do you think Dove cosmetics and Dove chocolates are the same company? Heh, heh, heh. Just kidding.]