Case in Point: Is Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” For Real?

Everything can be distinguished psychologically and perceived in different ways, especially in art. As a photographer, I have my own opinion to this matter, but can also view the sides of others. The Point Case study in the book Media ethics: Key principles for responsible practice, called “Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ for Real?” illiterate an issue in 2004 when Dove focused on the visual components of a “real” women model called “Campaign for Real Beauty.” The parent company of Dove, Unilever, proclaimed how the commercial media of Dove is not viewing the “real” women appropriately to what they actually look like. Not only did Unilever focus on Dove, but its agency as well, Oglivy and Mather, creating a controversy between photography and common people. The revealing of what the behind the scenes process of the photo shopping was for each model shocked people who are inexperienced in this field. Check out this video to see:

Stepping back from the moment, evaluating the history of what beauty is cause a difference between times. Make-up designing, body shapes, hairstyles alter per generation. In the 1400s to 1600s, curvaceous women were seen as sexy. This was one of the main moments in history that women as seen as a beautiful figure with their natural body. The Renaissance community considered women with lighter hair to be more appealing. It continues in to the late 1800s, but then alters into a more self-conscious body type with thinner waists and larger breasts. Of course this differs between countries, cultures, and ages. A feminist named Naomi Wold explains about the myth of beauty says, “Beauty is a currency system like the gold standard. Like any economy, it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West it is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact.” (Integral Life). Humans’ sense of beauty is all in the mind.

Photographers, editors, graphic designers, and the viewers have a freedom to voice their own opinion. However, there must be a care on how we show the ideas. Immanuel Kant defines freedom in the book Media Ethics, “Freedom is not just another word…it defines us as a moral agent and thereby comes with a serious duty or obligation” (page 85). The creators of that image had the right to edit the photograph and subject to whatever extent. It is considered art. Unilever interviews Pascal Dangin, the photographer of the main Dove campaign, replying to the question about what he thinks of the editing, “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive” (page 85). However, as much as artists have the freedom to edit a photo, there must be a clear obligation how the image is processed and not natural.

As human nature, we are attractive to symmetry. This can illiterate to objects as well as people. This includes similar noses within a community, eyes that are even, symmetrically designed jaw structures, etc. We all have an obligation to show that everyone is beautiful in their own individual way. As Kant explains about the dignity of human nature that forces people to get out of their comfort zone, “His articulation of the concept of transparency, through his theory of human dignity, challenges us with a question: Do we have the moral courage to do more than “talk the talk” about how we value truth and integrity, all the while exploiting people and situations when it’s convenient or sever our interests?” (page 84). There are people that “need” editing, but it is not our place to proclaim to them the issue. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Work Cited:

Bennett, C. (2013, March 8). No glow: Dove’s ‘Beautify’ reverts pics to raw state. Retrieved May 4, 2015, from

Dabitch. (2008, May 9). Surprise! Dove “campaign for real beauty” was retouched. Retrieved May 4, 2015, from

Fisher, V., & Wilber, K. (2009, February 11). Beauty and Feminism. Retrieved May 4, 2015, from

Plaisance, P. (2009). Media ethics: Key principles for responsible practice (pp. 84-86). Los Angeles: SAGE.

Richter, A. (n.d.). You Probably Wouldn’t Have Been Pretty By Ancient Standards.      Retrieved May 4, 2015, from

The Evolution video – Dove Self Esteem Project. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from


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