Like nearly every other feminist blogger, I’ve written about the Dove ads before. And yet, I have more to say.
These ads have created quite a stir, and not just in feminist circles. They’ve prompted op/eds in major national newspapers. They’re being discussed on blog after blog. And you can’t turn on the TV, read a women’s magazine or walk down an urban street without seeing them.
There seem to be a few camps of thought out there when it comes to these ads. First is the group that says, “Real women! Right on!” and ends with that. Then there are those that say, “This is another ad campaign, still negotiating women’s bodies to sell products, and that is bad.” And then there’s the “These women aren’t models, how dare they be on billboards” set. To me, though, all of these views are insufficient.
Twisty, as usual, has a really fantastic take on the ads. Read her post. I agree with her. But at the same time, I don’t dislike the ads as much as she does. And while I find them problematic, it’s for slightly different reasons.
For me, it comes down to one question: What do we, as feminists, want from advertising culture, and what do we reasonably expect? There are those of us who see advertising as inherently evil, and will argue that any form of it is dehumanizing and bad. If that’s where you’re coming from, then it’s perfectly consistent to dislike the Dove ads. But, if you’re coming from where I am — which is where you’re critical of advertising, but recognize its necessity in our economic system (or at least recognize it as something that isn’t ever going to disappear) — then the Dove ads become harder to criticize.