Mixed Messages

During one of my discussions with Board members from the Australian Women’s Forum they highlighted the hypocrisy inherent in many of the programs that say they are designed to promote healthy body image. Apart from magazines that pretend  to be “a girl’s best friend” whilst feeding their insecurities and advocating consumerism,  other cosmetic companies are now using the “we care about girls / want to promote a positive body image” as a marketing ploy. 

Dove has launched their REAL Beauty campaign and hope to promote a teacher training seminar through schools.  Whilst some of the materials they have put together  may well be useful ( have you seen the You Tube clip that shows the truth about airbrushing? Evolution? well worth a look)

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There are obviously some real conflicts of interest when Dove’s core business is selling beauty creams and cellulite potions! What really infuriates me though are the mixed messages. Dove is owned by Unilever – Unilever are also responsible for Impulse (no REAL beauty messages there – the slogan is “Feel irresistible”) and LYNX. You may have seen the LYNX ad’s – where pretty girls are reduced to uncontrollable sexual gyrations at the mere smell of Lynx on really plain / inappropriate men ( one girl resorts to stripping the much older father of her boyfriend!).  Not good enough. These ad’s are completely inappropriate and only reinforce the sexualisation and objectification of women. 

A Year 8 girl in a workshop I ran recently in Canberra pointed the Lynx ad’s out as causing her real anxiety…as we were running the new “Wake Up Sleeping Beauty” workshop at the time she drew a very clever parallel –
“It is like the old Ugly Duckling / Beauty and the Beast story – girls are meant to see the inner hotness in all guys and just fall at them. Where are the plain girls that can be transformed though? Plus why are girls always acting like strippers on TV nowadays? It is embarrassing to watch.”

If you’re looking for another very clever clip (that is not ultimately designed by Unilever to rake up sales and get their brands into our classrooms) show your girls the short film produced by Kiri Davis entitled A Girl Like Me.  

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It looks at the promotion of skin whitening by the beauty industry and the profound effect this is having on girls from different cultures – who start to see their dark skin as the enemy. It is really moving…

3 thoughts on “Mixed Messages

  1. Francesca Kaoutal says:

    I wasn’t expecting this clip to touch my heart so deeply so please excuse the length of my response! I was saddened to hear these beautiful girls describing their frustrations with society’s pressure to conform to a certain stereotype of beautiful. I hate the pressure which exists and wish that I could make it disappear for every teenage girl! I loved seeing the strength in many of the girls’ eyes but disliked seeing their frustration. I found myself a little teary after hearing their thoughts and then hearing the opinions of the children as they related skin colour to ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I’m not one for sad spaces for too long so I have to say I’m happy it has reminded me of how important it is to respect each person’s uniqueness and affirm qualities I admire about a person openly. It’s easy to miss little eyes that might be watching a friendly embrace or little ears eavesdropping on kind words spoken and even easier to underestimate the effect such a simple exchange can have on a person of any age.

  2. Mel Nielsen says:

    Danni it infuriates me knowing the effect the media has on our girls! It makes me so mad to see girls being degraded and objectified when they should be valued and celebrated. I love that you are helping bring awareness to this issue and are stirring the pot! I am excited because through enlighten mindsets are being changed and girls are starting to rise up and believe they are valuable and beautiful just as they are… LOVE IT!!

  3. Pingback: Unilever – because white skin is the best skin. | The Butterfly Effect

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