54 thoughts on “This Is Why I Don’t Give a Crap if They’re Using It to Sell Cellulite Cream”

  1. this one really spoke to what i see my Junior Girl Scouts experiencing. If you aren’t aware Juniors are 4th-6th graders. They talk about being too fat, and dieting and being ugly. They 9-11/12, they’re smart, gorgeous, funny and caring girls and our society has told them that those are the things that matter. It breaks my heart and makes me hope we can counteract at least a little of it in our troop.

  2. Morte, that is so sad! My Brownies (7-8) aren’t there yet, but I’m sure if I keep doing this for another 10 years or so, I’ll start seeing it… they seem to get them younger and younger.

  3. I had a teensy problem with the “True Colors” one in that the girl who is subtitled “worries that she’s fat” is extremely thin. I don’t think the ad could have gotten run or even made if the association weren’t so absurd — because of course, it’s not nearly so tragic if a fat girl worries about her weight. That’s mostly me projecting, though.

  4. Becky, it’s gotten worse as most of them hit 5th grade last year, they have in my opinion so little childhood compared to what i had just 20 years ago and the things they’re exposed to and talk about often shock me, but when i heard them talking amongst themselves one day about being “ugly ” and “fat” i was devastated.

  5. I saw this at feministing.com this morning. I agree that ads like this are important. It’s important to remind parents they HAVE to teach their children to view advertising with a critical eye. Parents don’t do it enough. I read websites like this, feministing, and many others linked from this page in the hopes of educating myself enough to be able to address these sorts of issues with my children when I have them.

    Non-profits or organizations that address eating disorders should look at this step taken by Dove and move in that direction. Or how about those “More You Know” people? They should be running ads like this too. It’s important to me that parents begin to realize that it’s more damaging to a child to set an ideal that can never be reached and continue to teach them that that ideal is the only thing they’ll ever be accepted for, rather than fear they’ll be ostracized because they have fat thighs.

    On a side note, I can’t recall where I read this, it might have been here, but a woman was talking about body acceptance and how important it is to portray that to your children. I took this advice to heart and thank that person greatly. I never realized how hating myself later in life will reflect on my daughter’s image of herself. So thanks, whoever you were.

    Sorry blabbering on here. I really appreciate sites like this. Issues addressed here aren’t really discussed between my friends and family.

  6. Ooh, I just remembered… Girl Scouts and Dove have partnered to create a Real Beauty campaign for Girl Scouts, called Uniquely Me. I think my Brownies are too young, but it’s something you can consider doing with your Juniour Scouts, Morte.

  7. Thanks Becky! I knew about the program but I had forgotten about it. We were so busy working on our Bronze Award last year!

  8. Cool! I’ve never used their celluite cream or anyone elses, but I’m a big fan of their shampoo and conditioner.

  9. I’ve never used their celluite cream or anyone elses

    This reminded me, semi-off-topic… one of the worst body image experiences I ever had as an adult (24 or 25) was when I went into a cheap-ass salon to get a manicure, and the owner tried to sell me everything in the fucking place to save me from the uglies. She DID sell me a really expensive and painful laser treatment for acne (a problem later determined to be about 95% hormonal), and once she saw I went for that, she said to me, and I fucking quote (English wasn’t her first language):

    Your thigh too big. I sell you cream for very big thigh.

    I didn’t buy the cream, but I did walk out in tears. And more than 100 dollars poorer, when ALL I WANTED WAS A FUCKING MANICURE.

  10. I have a 10-year old daughter. I’ve been warning her of the tricks the media will try to pull since she was old enough to talk coherently – about toys (they’re never as cool as commercials make them look), about food (you will not travel to a magical fun land if you eat that cereal), about everything. We now have a fun hobby of deconstraucting commercials while we watch TV. Man you ought to hear some of the stuff that comes out of her mouth when a Victoria’s Secret or “male enhancement” commercial comes on! She’s not buyin’ it.

    I’m proud to say that my 10-year-old child is a better critical thinker than some women 2-3-4 times her age in this regard. She is scornful of “diets,” is appalled by the notion of having surgery just to look thinner or have bigger boobs, and is absolutely not interested in being a “commercial girl.” Her words. She wants to be like the people on Animal Planet or Discovery Health – not like on E! or VH1.

    We’ve had the talk about whether she or any of her friends think they’re fat (they’re not – they’re developing, though). She says, “I wondered about my stomach sticking out when I was little, but nah, I’m not fat. I’m just right. M. and K. and C. think they’re fat, but it just looks like they have puberty before me.” Yes, a direct quote. I’m very proud. I just hope my daughter can peer-pressure her friends away from typical girl/tween/teen burgeoning body hatred.

    That video gave me vertigo!

  11. Well, I do buy their stuff and I do appreciate ads like this and the aging ad campaign they have going, too.

    But let’s not get too misty-eyed here. They’re owned by Unilever. Unilever owns, among many other brands, Slim-Fast.

    So, you know, grain of salt.

  12. As a mom of a 2 year old girl, I have become very interested in this stuff. I really want to give her the childhood that will helpfully give her a strong self-image. I wasted my 20s hating my body and am now just recovering from that. I really hope to spare her from a decade of that crap.

    Obviously there is no perfect large company – but Dove is putting out these ads and making people think. That’s, IMO, worth more than just a mere grain of salt. At least for this mom.

  13. I gotta say, while the ad has a nice sentiment, I still don’t buy that Dove is necessarily doing this for purely altruistic reasons. There *is* the cellulite cream thing, yeah, but there’s also the fact (I think someone else has mentioned?) that Dove’s parent company (er, Dove?) also owns and markets Slimfast. So when you give your money to Dove, you’re ultimately supporting the same industry that oppresses fat (and all) women. Nice try, but until they stop trying to modify our bodies I won’t really be down with the campaign.

  14. Sheana, my feeling is, if these videos keep getting distributed and linked to on MySpace pages and whatnot, they’re going to have a positive impact on the girls who see them — whether they have a positive impact on Dove’s bottom line isn’t my concern here. I like the videos as videos. That’s a different thing from liking Dove, let alone Unilever.

    But at the same time, given the advertising for competing products, I’d still rather give my money to them, in most cases. Baby steps.

  15. You know, when you have a baby in the hospital, its closed-circuit tv station on the tv in your room plays all kinds of segments for new mothers. One of them is all about how to get your body back so you will be nice and thin again. :rolleyes:

    It starts even earlier than Dove can admit.

    It strikes me as hypocritical. The ad never said the media stream was WRONG. They think it’s something you have to learn to live with by attempting to control its influence.

  16. Like the hospital TV thing….

    My OB/Midwife practice recently moved the midwives to an office on the other side of town.

    The stated reason was that they wanted to have a presence closer to the hospital. Of course, now your average OB patient doesn’t even have to be exposed to the existence of the midwives. And more infuriating, they rented the office space left empty by their departure to….

    A plastic surgery practice. So now when hormonal women walk through the door, the first thing they see is a big “informational brochures” rack, telling them that they’re too old, too wrinkly, and the baby that they’re carrying is destroying their bodies, making their breasts sag, giving them stretch marks.

    And it feels like this is being *recommended* by the OB practice.

    Not sure I’m going back.

  17. Kate, her name wasn’t Miss Swan, was it?

    I love the Dove campaign, and I don’t really care that they’re selling something. Girls need to see something that isn’t designed to crush their self-esteem. I remember when the ad series first started, I read an article about it, and the author claimed that while Dove was doing well now, they’d soon drop the idea, because it would label them as “fat girl products” and that would render them untouchable by the pretty people o__O

  18. Sorry Kate, gotta disagree with you.

    Irony is dead if that makes up for cellulite cream and SOFTER ARMPITS (their deodorant ads promise silky smooth armpits in a week!). They are perpetrating what they are implying they find harmful. I liken it to Phillip Morris et al making “Kids, don’t smoke” PSAs.

  19. I hear you, lavalady, but the thing is, if Phillip Morris made a really kickass “Kids, Don’t Smoke” video, I would post that and cheer it, too. The problem with the ones they do make is that they suck.

  20. they’re my kind of hypocrites

    Yeah. Although I can certainly see why people would find it highly suspicious that it’s a company whose parent owns Slim-Fast would run an ad like this, you gotta start somewhere. Millions of girls will see this ad and it will at least provide a “daughterboard” that will question the programming.

    I liken it to the Brooklyn Dodgers signing Jackie Robinson to break baseball’s color bar (which was a “handshake” agreement amongst MLB teams not to sign nonwhite players that had been in effect for over 40 years) back in the 1940s. Branch Rickey, the Dodgers’ GM, didn’t sign Robinson because he was such a great civil rights crusader or even because he respected Robinson as a player; he did it because he thought Robinson’s presence would help fill his ballpark’s empty seats, and he was right. They exploited him out of sheer greed. But the fallout was that ALL professional sports got integrated. Sometimes the “why” matters less than the “what.”

  21. There’s a magazine over here in the UK, (or used to be at any rate), called The Ethical Consumer which susses out which evil corporations are subsidiary organisations of even bigger and more evil corporations to the point where you couldn’t even buy a bottle of milk for fear of being idealogically guilt-tripped because somebody vaguely related to the company that made the milk bottle tops is ZOMG supplying the Third World with nuclear arms!!!!

    As far as I’m concerned this film fucking rocks. I really don’t care if Dove’s parent company make Slimfast. I’m also willing to bet pretty much every other company that makes shampoos, soap and deodorant is, somewhere along the line, involved in the manufacture of something I don’t believe in or approve of.

    Oh…and Kate?

    “Your mouth too big. I give you smack in big mouth you mention thigh again.”

  22. “Your mouth too big. I give you smack in big mouth you mention thigh again.”


    And really, that would be an appropriate thing to say to me, as well as the aesthetician.

  23. I flat out love the Campaign for Real Beauty. Whenever my brain tries to go into highly skeptical anti-capitalist mode, I just can’t get there because I find the videos so moving.

  24. I adore Dove. As far as this particular commercial is concerned, I think people expect too much from a beauty company on some level. Advertising is advertising and, at the end of the day, Dove is there to sell a product. If Dove’s message is “we are the company telling you to accept yourself as you are and our products will help you to showcase the parts of you that are already beautiful,” then that’s a message I can stand behind. It’s better than the alternative.

    On an unrelated note, Dove is one of the only drugstore brands (i.e. cheap brands) to clearly list the 8 major allergens in its products and to monitor its product sourcing. For celiacs and people with major food allergies, Dove makes it possible to take a shower without worrying about keeping your mouth shut for the entire thing or having an unexpected reaction afterward. For this alone? Dove has my consumer loyalty.

  25. I honestly, truly did not read this post until after I made the comment on the Duh Truck Post…. I swear!

    But I have bookmarked both of the articles… because it is not just little girls that need to be encouraged to overcome societal body image pressures. I just wish (sigh) I had realized it before this last year.

    I am thankful that I have time to make it right.

  26. Forget the Axe and the cellulite creams, look at their marketing of their skin lightening products. “Fair & Lovely”, for one, and the Pond’s range, actually branded “White Beauty”.

    from the unilever Indonesia page:

    Our campaign message is “Dengan Pond’s, Putih dan Bersinar itu Mudah”, which conveys dual benefit: both physical and emotional as we emphasize that fairer skin gives you more chances to shine in life.

    Unilever aren’t your kind of anything. If you want to support less evil businesses, ditch most of the unnecessary crap, and find a local woman-owned handmade products business. What you save on lotion you can spend on soap, and you’ll probably still come out ahead.

    And Dove may declare some allergens, but they’re still mislabelling their detergent bars as non-scented when they contain masking fragrance, so no points from me there either. (Which may well account for the hideous itching welts I got when I tried it, twice.)

  27. Kate, I hear what you are saying, but I guess philosophically we are just not coming from the same place.

    I love the IDEA of that video, but in reality the video was just noise to me. It didn’t speak to me at all! Not as a woman and not as a woman of color, and not as a fat woman. What I saw was an ad for Dove products. I guess that’s what keeps me firmly in the camp of “it’s an ad”.

    Had I saw it without the commercial message (anything containing “Dove” self-esteem or not is an ad), I would have been slightly more approving, yes, but probably no more moved.

    I’m kind of surprised by the level of positive comment about this – but I’m a crazy radical. I have to agree with Lauredhel that Unilever’s global position should be considered. My guess is that my tolerance for this is lower because I don’t read fashion magazines or watch much TV, so it looks more like an ad to me (I mean, I purposely avoid advertising because I find it so unpleasant, so when I see it it sticks out).

    Lastly, as a parent, what is the ad really saying to me? I talk to my kids (both boys) about the fashion industry and standards already, but if I didn’t, what would this ad be telling me to say?

  28. I’ve always had mixed reactions to Dove commercials. Yes Dove, show us how manipulated our beliefs about ideal womanhood have become, but if you want to inspire critical thinking, then don’t continue to be a part of that manipulation by showing me your lovely ‘natural’ women who have been covered from head to toe in body makeup, standing under fantastic lighting and who had their hair and makeup done nicely – aren’t all the bells and whistles still a manipulation? But then I ask myself, would I dismiss the ads as crap if all of that styling wasn’t done? How deep has the crap sunk in??

    And I’m not looking to comment on the Unilever connection – I’m more concerned by the fact that the Dove Self-Esteem Fund monies come not from the corporate profits per se, but as a donation-per-purchase of Dove products. They may pay for the ads, but don’t kid yourselves that they are paying for the self-esteem fund. So keep buying those creams because you’ll be spiting your face if you don’t.

    Um, maybe that last sentence was a bit of a reach…

  29. Wow, no subtitles. I suppose Dove doesn’t think that the hearing impaired need to feel good about themselves. Typical.

    Actually, Godless Heathen, there’s nothing to subtitle, except the song (“La Breeze,” by Simian) that goes over it.

    The lyrics “Here it comes” are repeated at the beginning of the video, and then the music picks up when the ad images start.

    Other than that (which, granted, has an impact), the ad is entirely visual.

  30. Kate, I hear what you are saying, but I guess philosophically we are just not coming from the same place.

    I agree, Lavalady — and ditto Lauredhel. I’m glad you two (and others) are here bringing up these points so other people can see what Dove and Unilever are all about.

    But philosophically, I’m more in line with BuffPuff:

    I’m also willing to bet pretty much every other company that makes shampoos, soap and deodorant is, somewhere along the line, involved in the manufacture of something I don’t believe in or approve of.

    And the thing is, while I support the idea of “ditching the unnecessary stuff” and finding a woman-owned local soap maker, I’m just not going to do it any time soon. I make ethical compromises all the time with what I buy, because it takes quite a bit of effort not to. (I make some effort, but not what would fully be required to ease my conscience.)

    Also, there’s a class issue to consider here. I’m not saying this is MY excuse (although actually, I don’t use any Dove products anyway), but Dove is a relatively affordable drugstore brand here. The only other beauty company I can think of putting out any body positive messages is The Body Shop — and although their corporate practices are MUCH better than Dove’s*, their products are also about 3 times as expensive, and much less readily available. The price point and ready availability are, of course, partly a function of hideous corporate practices. But if I can only afford/get my hands on Dove, Suave, or Herbal Essences, I’m going with Dove, because at least their commercials don’t make me want to vomit.

    The anti-video argument I’ve found most compelling so far is the point that this one shifts the responsibility for combating those images away from the beauty industry (i.e., Dove) and onto parents (i.e., mothers). I think we all know how much I love the concept of “personal responsibility” when it’s used as a weapon.


    1) In terms of the images in question, Dove’s doing a much better job than most of its competitors. That is FAINT praise, let me tell you. But it is a truth I think is worth acknowledging.

    2) As we saw here, there is something to be said for exhortations to talk to your kids about the cultural pressure to look a certain way. And since the average consumer is probably not as conscious of how insidious these sorts of images are as, say, a bunch of feminists who believe in fat acceptance, I do think the video is powerful.

    I’ve been hearing again and again since I started the BMI project, “Wow, I just never realized…” And I’ve heard from loads of women that they feel so much better looking at the stream, because they see people with identical stats to theirs and think, “Hey, she looks good! Why don’t I think I look good? And come to think of it, everybody here looks good” — even though, with two exceptions that I know of, the people in the stream are sure not models.

    As I think we all know, it’s really fucking hard even for savvy feminist women to get out from under the power of all those images, just because they’re EVERYWHERE. And a whole lot of people haven’t really given that much thought — a whole lot of people still make the argument that the beauty industry can’t be blamed for women feeling… exactly the way the beauty industry wants them to feel. This video explains what the fuck feminists are talking about where that’s concerned in 30 seconds. I love it for that.

    *Note: when I wrote my tribute to Anita Roddick, a whole bunch of people chimed in to tell me the Body Shop is actually evil because of X, Y, and Z. Like I said, buying pretty much any mass-produced product without compromising your integrity somehow is difficult, if not impossible.

  31. RE that manicurist, and the Indonesian ads:

    We in the west have nothing like the pressure to look ‘right’ that abounds in Asia. The Japanese have a CANDY that is supposed to grow you bigger breasts, (and because of a ‘traditional-culture’ ethnic minority, their age of consent is TWELVE), and skin lightening is their single biggest beauty categorie.
    I once had a ten year old Korean girl say to me,
    “I like Britney Spears, she a-chubby like me”. This was back in the days of Britney’s ‘unreasonable expectation for tween girls’ size, and she still wasn’t thin enough for Asia. Imagine a ‘python’ Britney as the most size-positive image you ever saw.

    It scares me to say this, but we might have it easy.

  32. I’m just going to give a plug for my favourite lotions + potions company, Paula’s Choice. I swear they don’t know me from Eve, I just love the stuff. No fragrances, no colours, no irritating ingredients at all, salicylate-free stuff for those with fibro, minimal plain recyclable packaging, and, gosh, only has ingredients that are actually proven to do what they say they will, which is pretty much: makes your skin feel and look nice, and protect it from the sun. Woman-owned and I think most of the employees are women too. Haven’t seen any stupid advertising from them, either.

  33. Holls, I’m inclined to agree with you based on my experiences with women from the Phillipines. One coworker looked at me in my new scrubs and said, “Nice scrub shirt, but your butt way too big for it. And this tummy! Are you pregnant? You don’t fit this shirt. You give it to me.” I had the presence of mind–maybe it was the exceptionally strong coffee, or the cheer I had from having new clothes–to say, “It’s mine, and you can’t have it. And in this country you don’t make mean comments about peoples’ bodies.” She was completely confused and, actually, I realized that she had a right to be. Her comments, in her mind, were not mean but the truth. Yes, I have a big ass, and a big belly. We talked a little more and I came to understand that there is a HUGE (no pun intended) taboo against adiposity in Southeast Asia, and that her comments were “normal” in the course of speaking with other women. So, yeah, I think we have it EASIER.

  34. this is a wonderfully refreshing campaign. i was already a fan of dove’s products — i love the smell of their hair spray and pro age hand cream. recently i tried their shampoo and conditioner. the prices are good. now i like them even more. go dove!

  35. I side with those who find this at least refreshing to watch, even if it isn’t quite a feminist/fat-friendly masterpiece. It’s a hell of a lot more positive than 98% of the other fat- and ugly-phobic hysteria that passes for TV entertainment and advertising.

  36. oof- I just got round to watching this and it left me very jittery. I love its message, and i love its presentation. ‘Onslaught’ is exactly the right word for that film.

    on to the whole ‘But Dove is evil too!’ argument – I take the stand that while they may be owned by the same company as slimfast, someone, somewhere in that advertising campaign CARES. Look at the self-esteem website, look at all of the information they have on there, someone has put their heart into this and its not just for the brand. It goes beyond selling the products, and for whatever reason Dove likes this angle (what else is left to be innovative with in advertising other than to go against the trend?), the people they employed to do this know their stuff and are genuine.

    Other than that, I buy products that are a good balance between price and suitability for my skin. Dove falls into that category more than most.

  37. It’s not easy to make ethical consumer choices…
    The first thing I look for in hygiene products is that they shouldn’t be tested on animals, so I used to buy from Body Shop. But then I heard that Body Shop had been bought years ago by L’Oreal, which is owned by Nestlé, which uses very unethical marketing practices for getting mothers in the third world to use their formula products instead of breastfeeding. So I quit Body Shop, because I didn’t want to contribute to children being malnourished just to avoid contribute to animals being experimented on. Now I buy mostly from a Swedish brand which claim they don’t test on animals, but they have less to choose from.
    I also liked the message of the commercial video as a separate thing, even if the corporation is doing all kinds of unethical things – it reminds me of McDonald’s giving money to hospitals with sick children or whatever it was, it’s still a good thing for those children, even if we have to remember they’re doing it just to get good publicity and draw attention away from other things they do, and still criticize them when they cut down rainforest or treat their employees badly. It’s not an excuse for the destructive things the same corporation does, but that commercial is still better than most others.

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