Can a media campaign contribute to long term increases in self-esteem/self-concept/self-worth? There is a correlation between negative body image and deleterious health behaviors among American females, whether through diet, exercise, eating disorders or other such behaviors.
The negative influence of media message on girls’ body image has been well documented within the literature. While this relationship has been noted, can the media positively contribute to body image?
Aagerup, U. (2011). The influence of real women in advertising on mass market fashion brand perception. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 15(4), 486-502.
The author looks at the effect of model weight on consumerism from a fashion perspective. A thorough discussion on how fashion advertises to ideal customers using representative models is included, as well as a discussion of potential health implications, particularly the body-focused anxiety of women. Noting that consumers look for congruence between own personalities and brand, the author assesses whether there will be a difference between BMI of respondents and perceived brand status. 640 female undergraduate students completed questionnaires regarding consumer perception of mass market fashion brands upon viewing a model digitally manipulated to appear thin, overweight and obese. The author found that BMI significantly affects perception of brand among each of five personality dimensions (Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness). The author also found that thin models were significantly perceived as more competent. This offers implications regarding the potential impact of campaigns such as Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.
Ata, R. N., Ludden, A. B., Lally, M. M. (2007). The effects of gender and family, friend and media influences on eating behaviors and body image during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(8), 1024-1037.
The authors studied male and female adolescents and different influences on eating behaviors and body image. The article provides information on both males and females which could be interesting to compare. The authors also compare several different areas of influence, which could be helpful moving forward. Notes influence of magazine and television media on both male and female adolescent body dissatisfaction. 177 predominantly Caucasian teenage students completed a questionnaire on self-esteem, parental and peer support, teasing, pressure to lose weight or gain muscle, media pressure, body esteem. Each measure is well reviewed. Results varied between gender, with females more dissatisfied with whole bodies, more likely to report poorer self-esteem and body image, as well as media pressure. However, it appears family and peer relationships may have greater influence on body image than media.
Atasoy, O. (2013). Dove’s ‘real beauty’ video at odds with research on attractiveness, expert says. Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/26/dove-real-beauty-video-research-attractiveness_n_3321501.html
Provides a description of the video and then reveals that psychological research evidence states we actual think of our appearance as better than it actually is. Furthermore, this bias is simply for self, not strangers. Psychologists call this “self-enhancement”, which explains overestimation of self, but accurate descriptions of others. This also applies to other actions, including voting. While the article repeatedly states the Dove campaign information is wrong, it does close saying the underlying message may not be a bad thing.
Barton, A. (2013). Dove had it wrong. It’s probably better not to think about your looks. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/dove-has-it-wrong-its-probably-better-not-to-think-about-your-looks/article11287224/.
This piece discusses the Dove Sketches campaign. Barton suggests the underlying message is to wash away the negativity women possess with Dove soap. Barton further addresses the motives of Unilever, the company that owns Dove, as well as Axe, a popular men’s deodorant brand that tends to portray women as objects. Barton closes with a less than hopeful view for our society. An interesting approach to the campaign, without much hope for a change in cultural norms.
Bielski, Z. (2013). The consensus on Dove’s controversial beauty campaign: Stop the preaching! The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/the-consensus-on-doves-controversial-beauty-campaign-stop-the-preaching/article11427106/.
Interesting perspective of the Dove sketches campaign – that of other media sources. Highlighting some of the negative headlines and blog reports following the release of the campaign, Bielski brings several interesting perspectives to understanding the impact of the campaign.
Daum, M. (2013). Real beauty, really Dove? Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-03/news/ct-oped-0503-daum-20130503_1_dove-natural-beauty-friday-night-lights
This article is based on the sketches campaign. The author starts by questioning the storyline of the campaign – whether it even makes sense. Brings up critiques such as lack of diversity – all the models are young, slim, and white; not necessarily representative of ‘real’. Great quote that sums up what a lot of the news pieces seems to be saying, “the problem . . . is that you’re still being told that beauty matters a lot”.
Day, J. (2006). Dove: a clean campaign? The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/organgrinder/2006/mar/30/doveacleancampaign.
Day compares the 2003 Dove campaign that featured ordinary women in their underwear to the 2006 campaign aimed at young girls and teens. The author then offers an opinion regarding the contradictory message of the Dove campaigns. She promotes thought regarding the topic but does not really offer support for either position.
Dye, L. (2009). Consuming constructions: A critique of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. Canadian Journal of Media Studies, 5(1), 114-120.
Dye offers a critique to the Dove campaign. She argues that the message is contradictory, exploits women, and actually upholds the ideals of beauty it claims to reverse. States that campaign promotes competition between women. Challenges beauty standards, but does not challenge women’s obsession with altering their bodies in order to enhance their self-esteem. The author provides support for several claims, drawing upon previous literature as well as information from Dove website forums. This could offer an explanation to why the campaign may not be effective in increasing body image among adolescents. This offers a critique to the Dove campaign, as the author argues that the message is contradictory, exploits women, and actually upholds the ideals of beauty it claims to reverse. This could offer an explanation to why the campaign may not be effective in increasing body image among adolescents.
Fridkis, K. (2013). What’s wrong with Dove’s real beauty sketches campaign? Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/eat-the-damn-cake/201304/whats-wrong-doves-real-beauty-sketches-campaign
Fridkis provides a positive review of the campaigns. The author then mentions minor criticisms such as possible gender conflict with a male drawer, and a relatively homogenous sample. The main criticism is that the blame is placed on the women. She notes women do this because women have learned it is part of being a woman: in our society beauty is relevant and strict and specific and there are criteria we must meet. However, there is perhaps a conflict as Dove’s beauty standards state there is a better and worse way to look, further portraying we are a society obsessed with beauty. This gives women a reason to be concerned. Another critique is Dove ignores that women who consider themselves beautiful are labeled as vain or arrogant. Fridkis closes with the suggestiong that we need society to change and accept there is more than physical appearance as well as be more accepting of expressions of confidence
Friedman, A. (2013). Beauty above all else: The problem with Dove’s new viral ad. The New Yorker. http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/04/beauty-above-all-else-doves-viral-ad-problem.html
Friedman starts with a description of the new sketches video, and then criticizes the lack of diversity within the models. The writer notes that research says beauty is a factor in success for both males and females, though women usually have more of a problem than men. However, even the new ad focuses on looks rather than intelligence, with or ethics, not just looks. The comments generally critique Dove for manipulating women to sell a product.
Gustafson, B., Hanley, M., & Popovich, M. (2008). Women’s perceptions of female body shapes and celebrity models: The dove firming cream advertising revisited. In American Academy of Advertising (Vol. 2, pp. 39-51).
This study examined whether the shape and physical appearance of models used in magazine advertisements influence attitude toward brand. The study further compared the “real women” models in Dove campaigns to other brands. The authors review the literature on social comparison theory, attitudes towards ads, and celebrity endorsements. Using the Q-sort method and personal interviews, the authors found a mixture of feelings regarding the use of plus-sized models, the Dove advertising campaign may not be as widely accepted as Dove proclaims, and the use of celebrities can influence likeability of advertising.
Hampson, S. (2013). Dove’s new campaign: Real beauty or sentimental manipulation? The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/fashion-and-beauty/beauty/doves-new-campaign-real-beauty-or-sentimental-manipulation/article11746708/?cmpid=rss1
Describes Dove’s newest campaign, the sketches video. Essentially, women describe themselves to an FBI sketch artist. The same people are then sketched by people they had met earlier in the day. Hampson describes the first sketch as “Neanderthalish and nefarious” and the second as that of an average homo sapien. The clip concludes with the tagline “You are more beautiful than you think.” Hamspon critiques the portrayal of the women, as well as the concept of the video and further describes Dove as hypocritical in its claims of concern regarding women’s self-image.
Herbozo, S., Tantleff-Dunn, S. Gokee-Larose, J., & Thompson, J. K. (2004). Beauty and thinness messages in children’s media: A content analysis. Eating Disorders, 12(1), 21-34.
This study proposes that media influences the desire for thinness and avoidance of obesity among young children. The study assesses the content of body-image related messages in children’s videos and books. This suggests that by adolescence these ideas may already be ingrained, further emphasizing a need for positive body image messages.
Johnson, E. A. (2010). Sent to You by Someone Who Thinks You’re Beautiful: The Effects of Regulatory Focus, Personal Involvement, and Collective Efficacy in a Social Marketing Campaign (Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University).
This dissertation piece actually looks at the effect of the 2004 Dove campaign on undergraduate males and females. This offers a comparison between male and female interpretation as well as an in-depth look at the marketing campaign from a media theory perspective.
Johnston, J., & Taylor, J. (2008). Feminist consumerism and fat activists: A comparative study of grassroots activism and the Dove real beauty campaign. Signs, 33(4), 941-966.
Compares the Dove real beauty campaign to a grassroots campaign, Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off. Dove uses a multi-million dollar multimedia campaign whereas PPPO participates in street protests and cabaret shows. This offers a comparative view of two campaigns aimed to change the way women are viewed, with feminine theory throughout.
Lachover, E., & Brandes, S. B. (2009). A Beautiful Campaign? Analysis of public discourses in Israel surrounding the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Feminist Media Studies, 9(3), 301-316.
This study assesses the Dove campaign’s effects in Israel. Offering a feminist perspective, it discusses the effectiveness of the campaign to incite discussion and challenge traditional beliefs. It could be interesting to compare the results of the campaign in America to other countries.
Lynch, M. (2011). Blogging for beauty? A critical analysis of Operation Beautiful. Women’s Studies International Forum 34(2011), 582-592.
The author provides no specific hypothesis and states it is an exploratory study. Using qualitative methodology she analyzed posts that discussed body image, gender, self-esteem. Themes include ending Fat Talk, replacing toxic self-talk with positive and realistic phrases; changing how women think, and eliminating guilt. Overall these campaigns may oversimplify the solutions, presuming the underlying cause of mental ailments is that women do not feel beautiful.
Murphy, S. (2013). Viral Dove campaign becomes most watched ad ever. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2013/05/20/dove-ad-most-watche/
The article itself has received 3.9k shares. According to Murphy, it was announced Monday that it has become the most watched video ad of all time, with more than 114 million views. Of the five responses, one is spam, one appears to be posted by someone working for Dove, and the other three are sarcastic or critical. Interestingly, the author repeatedly notes that Dove made the claims regarding the number of views, and offers no confirmatory sources.
Neiger, B. L., Thackeray, R., Van Wagenen, S. A., Hanson, C. L., West, J. H., Barnes, M. D., & Fagen, M. C. (2012). Use of Social Media in Health Promotion Purposes, Key Performance Indicators, and Evaluation Metrics. Health promotion practice, 13(2), 159-164.
Provides information on how to use social media in health promotion, as well as how to evaluate campaigns. An important note is that urges organizations to set reasonable expectations. Could be useful in developing an evaluation of the Dove campaign.
O’Dea, J. A. (2006). Self-concept, self-esteem and body weight in adolescent females: a three-year longitudinal study. Journal of Health Psychology, 11(4), 599-611.
Longitudinal study that looks at possible influences in changes in self-concept, self-esteem and body weight over time. Discusses role of media in these changes. Also provides support for differences in perception based on initial body size.
Olson, E. (2008). Ads are a reminder: It’s not just soap; it’s a soapbox. Time. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/business/media/07dove.html?_r=0
The article offers criticisms regarding the financial support of Dove. A 2008 television advertisement stated that anytime someone buys Dove the efforts of the Dove Self-Esteem fund are supported. However, Dove does not designate any amount of sales, and rather states that it has spent more than $10 million on the fund (compared to sales of $2.5 plus in 2007).
Orbach, S. (2007). Changing the face of beauty. Unilever symposium.
Orbach notes changes in body image following introduction of television in Fiji. Mentions that research laid foundation of campaign; explains multigenerational programs targeting mothers and daughters because beauty ideals are transmitted from one generation to the next. Also mentions features of campaigns targeting each group. States the campaigns have been successful in demystifying and deconstructing the traditional concepts of beauty and to represent beauty in all varieties. Presented by Unilever (potential bias likely). Provides no source or explanation of how campaigns have been successful. Interesting findings but may need to look further into credibility.
Oswalt, S. B., & Wyatt, T. J. (2007). Mirror, Mirror, Help Me Like My Body: Examining a Body Image Media Campaign. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 5(2), 135-147.
This research study took place at a large southeastern university. The university health promotion staff developed a theory-based social media campaign to help students recognize the conversations and ideas that may reinforce negative body image concepts. The messages featured ten ways to sabotage and ten ways to enhance body image. Buscards, posters, and magnets were dispersed throughout campus. Students in sorority houses, residence halls and undergraduate classrooms were surveyed. The authors found that health promotion media campaigns may be effective in addressing body image and body dissatisfaction among female undergraduates.
Posner, Jennifer L. “Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ Backlash.” Bitch (2005): 30. Women in Media News. 29 Feb. 2008 <http://www.wimnonline.org/articles/dovebacklash.html>.
Posner discusses Richard Roeper’s quote “I find these Dove ads a little unsettling. If I want to see plump gals baring too much skin, I’ll go to Taste of Chicago, OK?,” and the resulting media impact that featured several media sources requesting a return to smaller models. One media source claimed the ads could actually contribute to the obesity epidemic. Posner closes by emphasizing the necessity of campaigns such as Dove’s. This provides the interesting perspective of males in media, while ending on a positive note.