Sunday, 21 April 2013

Forensic Beauty

There has always been something very unsettling about 'eyes are the windows to the soul' and by extension the Disney-esque tendency to link mortal looks with moral virtue. Every time a mugshot of a celebrity or an unexpectedly good looking criminal surfaces, it causes excitement for the implied schism. But truly aren't both traits equally as random and dictated by fate as each other? Looks more so, but even criminals - usually it is their sad circumstance and 'There but for the grace of God...' etc etc. Well Dove are at it again, this quest to convince us that "real beauty" is in all of us (barf) and as their earliest campaign was severely blighted by the 'revelation' that in fact these dogmatically 'real' images were as retouched as the best of them - perhaps they should be applauded for their tenacity. Yes the advertising campaign to supposedly promote us insecure women that we truly are "more beautiful than you think" has struck again. It seems to me in some ways that this patronising tactic actually serves to entrench insecurity and normalise feelings of inadequacy. But maybe I am resisting their liberating, ground-shattering message... Nonetheless: this is an interesting experiment and a good idea. A forensic artist, more accustomed to capturing felons by a skillful recreation of testimony, is appointed to demonstrate the contrast between our own perception of Self, and the Self we project to Others.

Yes, as is inevitable with any self-righteous advert, it is ripe for parody and the second video is brilliant! It is a very true and rather perplexing point: Why is it, that as women we are always worried at some level about our looks - yet men, however gloomy, do truly believe that with the right lighting or circumstance, they could absolutely get that model! Even though men nowadays are more subjected than ever to the pressure of looking good (in addition to having a powerful position in society) there is still a very identifiable difference in the vulnerabilities between the genders. This advert would simply not work if it was aimed at men. I am torn as to whether I think the advert makes a great point (albeit a banal one) or whether it is very old fashioned and insulting to keep stabbing at the idea that as women we should be more resigned and then people will love us for our acceptance.

What do you think??

The strategy used to sell us Beauty seems to rest alternately on empowering women with the promise of instant improvement, or comforting us that we are just splendid the way we are - and that by buying this brand we are proving just that.

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