As a fashion obsessed aficionado should know when you pick up a photo of anything fashion and beauty related you have to remind yourself that no one really looks that good. From Blake Lively on the cover of Vogue to Beyonce in that Covergirl ad, it is important to remember that these are women who are considerably beautiful, but before those photos were released to the masses they were lightened, retouched, cropped, edited, etc. before they were deemed acceptable. One of the biggest criticisms of the fashion industry is these unrealistic images it creates for beauty.
After all, how many women are 5’10’’ and size zero thin? Even for those lucky women who are, finally achieving that perfect hairdo and getting that Chanel foundation to be perfectly even doesn’t mean that there will be a team of editors on hand to Photoshop every photo of you to perfection. In a 2006 Dove Evolution commercial the extent to which models are Photoshopped became a hot topic.
In this commercial, the audience sees a young lady who looks like your standard girl next door; simple, but cute, and a girl that could definitely still catch a man’s eye. We quickly see how she is transformed by hair stylists and make-up artists into a glamorous bombshell, going from girl next door to a woman that was swoon worthy. While a quick trip to the salon and a strut over to the make-up counter at a fine department store could help those outside the supermodel elite achieve this look, what comes next is the reality of the unrealistic ideas of beauty that fashion sometimes creates.
The model’s neck is lengthened, her jaw line becomes more sculpted, her eyebrows are lowered, her lips are plumped, her shoulders trimmed down to be more slender, and she is given that perfect wind in your hair effect. The video ends with the message “No wonder our perception of real beauty is distorted” and then goes on to encourage viewers to take part in the Dove Real Beauty Workshops for Girls. The campaign went viral, and practically became the commercial heard around the world.
The commercial became a hit on YouTube, and also appeared on MySpace and Google Video. Dove tried another attack on Photoshopping in 2013 with another Real Beauty commercial that was a direct attack on those responsible for retouching: graphic designers, photographers, and art directors. The Dove Thought Before Action commercial discusses how they released a Photoshop action called beautify, which took reverted images back to their original state and displayed a banner that read “Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.”
Despite Dove’s efforts, their attempts to lure graphic design professionals to download the plug-in through Reddit failed to be successful, and those that fell for their trap were few and far between. The plug-in itself did not seem to prove very useful either, as it proved ineffective in reverting images with multiple layers (which most photos in ads and fashion magazines are) to their completely original state. The only change that was guaranteed to have been seen was the banner, but a banner of course lacked the same effect.
Dove has actually been criticized because many believe that they are just playing on the fact that they realize their average customer does not look like a supermodel sized woman. Many of the brands owned by Dove’s parent company, Unilever, are clearly still big fans of Photoshop (cue any Noxzema ad almost ever), and it doesn’t seem like they plan on scaling back the level of Photoshop for advertisements in any of their other brands anytime in the near future. While Dove should is admired by many for their commitment to real looking women for the moment being, at the end of the day Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, may have had a point given the continued success of fashion, “Nobody wants to see a real person looking like a real person on the cover of Vogue.” Shulman was once quoted saying, and that might go for any fashion and beauty magazine, advertisement, or commercial except for Dove it seems….