Elder Fashion - An Oxymoron
Chuck Nyren on Advertising and Elders

Those Dove Commercials…Again

Three or four weeks ago, I published a story about the new Dove print ads and commercials that feature women of all sizes who are older than 50. “Pro-Age” is what Dove calls this line of products to counter, I suppose, the “anti-aging” industry which concerns itself with the pursuit of eternal youth.

When I first saw it, the commercial struck me as a good step toward possibly making older women more realistically visible – although I don’t disagree with donna from Changing Places blog who left, in part, this comment:

“Heck, this society has such a phobia about nakedness in general that we have no idea what anybody actually looks like.”

And now comes ell, blogging about the ads from Canada at the pomegranate tiger with this piece of news:

“I saw the aforementioned ads on TV. I was impressed. They were beautiful and tastefully done. And yes, the women were naked…”

“…to my utter dismay and absolute disgust, I found out that these tasteful ads have been banned from US television because of the nudity.” [emphasis added]

Now how did I miss that? More important, how is it, as ell points out in her story, that we are shown all manner of gore on television every day along with video of panty-less celebrities getting out of limousines, simulated sex that leaves nothing to the imagination and my latest favorite, actresses portraying supposedly serious attorneys on courtroom dramas with décolletage down to their navels – but these attractive, older Dove women are censored?

The Dove models display no more of their bodies than the lingerie models in Victoria’s Secret commercials which are deliberately produced to exude maximum sexual titillation. There are only two differences between the commercials in the pictorial portrayal of the models: no underwear is showing in the Dove spots and the Victoria’s Secret models are young.

Which leaves one to wonder what the people who rejected the Dove commercials are really censoring.

On the other hand, I can find no announcement or news reference to the banning of the commercials by television networks, and there are only a couple of obscure stories on the web about some family and women’s groups calling for a ban. But, a video about the making of the commercial at the Dove website where the commercial is also available for viewing, states in a voice-over, “See what you can’t see on TV...” So maybe the banning idea is just a clever marketing ploy by Dove.

If so, it seems to have worked quite well.


They have been shown here in French on French TV and I've seen a couple at the cinema as well. But then, French TV is just chock full of nudity. Day and night, so it wouldn't shock anyone, I guess.

I could have sworn that I saw it on TV, but maybe it was before they banned them, or maybe I only saw them on Oprah. I think they are beautifully done. I have seen the ads in print.

Perhaps what makes them appear more threatening (and therefore banned) is the fact that something IS left to the imagination.

You certainly can't censor thought...

I have not heard anything about this but it's possible. Networks are afraid after the Janet Jackson fiasco and sometimes it's the programs themselves who don't want to make waves fearing boycotts. The difference between simple, natural nudity and salacious pornography seems impossible for some to discern.

We Americans make some curious distinctions in our interpretation of morality. Tasteful advertising using people in their natural state is immoral while the soft-core porn and violence of primetime television is not?

These ads are lovely and tasteful. Why would anyone complain? I'm tired of tacky ads and the even tackier coverage of celebrity brats who have neither style, class nor brains. I think our media has lost its collective mind.

I have seen these ads in magazines, though.

I also have seen the ads in magazines and I remember Dove having promos for them. I thought they were tastefully done and not the least bit offensive, but I'd prefer that we didn't have to take our clothes off to show that we are still proud of our bodies.

I thought Dove's "Metamorphosis" video was a lot more powerful in showing how impossible our standards for beauty have become. A fairly ordinary looking young woman is turned into a super model right before our eyes, through the magic of make-up, hair styling, and computer image manipulation. The end result doesn't exist, yet millions of young girls believe if they try hard enough they can look like that too.

I like the commercial but even more so I like Dove products although I have not tried the Pro Age line yet, I use the Dove flexible hold hair spray and also the Dove bar soap (cool moisture -cucumber and green tea)great for sensitive skin.

"Pro Age" os a catchy advertising phrase and I like it.

I think the girls on the CSI shows are the most amazing. If I were climbing around decomposing bodies, I wouldn't want any nooks and crannies available for stray worms to crawl down!

Considering what they show on TV, I can't believe the Dove ads would offend anyone, unless it is age discrimination. We can look at 20 year old boobs, but not a 60 year old shoulder?

Thanks for the shout out, Ronnie!

One of the best things I've ever done was a "bodywriting" weekend where we printed our bodies onto canvas and painted them as body image therapy. See here for part of the story:


It amazed me that even in a group of all women, some women had been so traumatized that they didn't want to be seen naked, and were covering up with robes between their prints. I didn't fully get the purpose of the workshop at first, just told it was "fun" by the friend who invited me.

Americans are extremely uncomfortable with any naked body or image, including their own. We are taught on a daily basis to cover ourselves, even in our own homes, and nudity is almost always associated with sexuality. Few of us are comfortable in our own skins - let alone seeing someone else's.

My two cents: I've always thought the Victoria Secret's commercials are trashy and insulting. So much of our culture revolves around advertising and consumerism and I try to keep that in mind when "viewing" our culture in general.

I think many of the age "issues" you raise in your work are largely a result of the contemporary media and advertising. So, is culture reflected by the media, or is media the reflection of culture. Not a new question, I know, but I think worth continuing to ask.

hypocrite, hypocricy, hypocritical....
what else .......

I guess we can't know what Dove's motivation is for showing these nude older women -- we can only speculate. There is something to be said for their doing so, if it brings attention and/or dialogue to some of the discriminative issues surrounding aging, aged bodies.

I'm always skeptical about market place motivations when nude women are singled out, but nowhere do we find older nude men. Perhaps some brave male product advertiser will choose to make a point about the older male body, also. The ads for males I see, are urging them to get that gray out of their hair and look younger. Don't recall the product. What's next for men?

Yes, our Puritan heritage does seem to prevail. Just as nudity and sexuality are often seen as synonymous, which they aren't, there's a lot of confusion and misuse of the word "love" when the feelings are really "lust."

I bought the product.

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