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*We Have the Same Team Trying to Find Out What Happened In Benghazi**
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April 26, 2013

Dove's Ad and the Sad State of Feminine Esteem

Dove did an ad, intended to go viral, putting across the message "Hey Ladies, you're more beautiful than you think."

Now, think about this. Dove does not know any of these 30 million women. So Dove could not possibly say if these women are more beautiful than they believe themselves to be.

It's the equivalent of telling ten thousand randomly-drawn strangers: Remember, you're all above average in skating ability.

Wait, how would you know? Is that even possible? Would the laws of statistical distribution ever permit all 10,000 of randomly-selected persons to all be above-average in ice skating?

And yet, thirty million views. Women are starved for this sort of positive messaging, even when, if you think about if for five seconds, 1, it doesn't make any sense that Dove could tell you this about yourself and 2, Dove is obviously a corporation attempting to get attention by peddling an embarrassingly-transparently cloying-ingratiating message to women in hopes they're so starved for a kind word they'll take it anyway.

So it worked. I'm not blaming women for this; it is different for girls, and a single virtue, beauty, is far more central to their sense of self worth than any single virtue is to a man.

I just wish there were some way to escape the situation.* Because seriously? An empty greeting-card sentiment sent out to anonymously to millions of women via the indiscriminate delivery system of the internet by the corporate brand-building department of a soulless NYC advertising firm? **

And yet for 30 million women, and counting, this is Good News.

* I only know what it's not: More soft-headed bubblegum philosophy about Negative Body Image, Serious You Guys from the feminists.

** In addition, it's a set-up: The sketch artist is part of the campaign, and knows the point of the campaign is that the Friend's Description is supposed to be prettier than the Self Description. So, like, he knows when to make someone look better and when to make someone look worse.

More: Virginia Postrel lodges a number of the same objections I do, and then adds a few more.

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posted by Ace at 05:29 PM

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