Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Media Analysis:Ferguson

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In today’s society that is completely absorbed in the media and controlled by its mostly negative angles, Dove has been able to fight the norm. With the launch of the Campaign for Real Beauty in the spring of 2005 (Why the campaign for real beauty? With the launch of this campaign Dove sought to challenge society and the media to redefine beauty and in doing so raise the every floundering self-esteem of women worldwide (About the Once the public was introduced to this first Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove saw how for the most part the reaction was extremely positive. They launched successive campaigns ranging from pro-aging to targeting young girls and the sad reality of what they are shown everyday in the media. Though not everyone is on board with the fact that a skin care company is trying to be pro-aging while still selling their products, it is hard to completely dismiss the campaign as bad because of its extremely constructive approach. In this media analysis I will focus on Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty website and its focus on girls, moms and mentors and the endless resources and information that it provides them with.
Just simply opening up the website is extremely overwhelming, yet simple in a sense. Though that may sound confusing it is an important aspect of the website and campaign as a whole. Dove is attempting something that, from my knowledge, has never been attempted before on such a large scale. What they are attempting to do is over time, and through the younger generation for the most part, re-define beauty image into a term that is wider and more real. When entering the website it is almost hard to grasp that a company is attempting to tackle such a large feat but, Dove does this in a tactical way.
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Dove sets up its website so that there are sections for girls, moms and mentors and within each section there are activities and readings that can be used as resources for them. By opening up access to information that would otherwise be too hard to find, Dove encourages girls and women alike to explore different ideas and myths about beauty.
In Naomi Wolfe’s book The Beauty Myth she defines what she coins “the beauty myth” as, “ ‘Beauty’ is not universal or changeless though the west pretends that all ideals of female beauty stem from one platonic ideal woman” (The Beauty Myth). This idea of female beauty being a set of standards is what Dove is challenging by starting their website and movement. By reaching out to the younger generation of girls they are trying to slowly eradicate the problems that run so deep in our society surrounding self-esteem of girls and women around the world. On the website there is a link to what Dove calls the Self-Esteem Fund. The Self-Esteem Fund’s slogan is “Fostering self-esteem around the world” and their mission statement is “Developed to make real change in the way women and young girls perceive and embrace their beauty. We want to help free ourselves and the next generation from Beauty stereotypes” (Dove Self-Esteem Fund. Because of this lack of self-esteem fostered in girls and women beginning at an alarmingly early age, many girls may not reach their full potential in life due to their lack of confidence during development. Thus, Dove is trying to promote a widened range of the definition of beauty so as to “educate and inspire” girls. The approach they use in promoting their self-esteem fund is avid and aimed at having the consumers help to spread the knowledge they gain and thus starting widespread changes. It is the idea of promoting self-esteem from a younger age that is what will
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hopefully change the younger generation of girls that are living during the Dove campaign era and eventually change the way that women as a whole feel about themselves.
Women’s perceptions of themselves and their worth is based on what they see in the media for the most part. When all the images that are viewed by consumers as a whole are for the majority filled with too skinny models with perfect skin, hair and facial structure it is hard for us “normal” women to not feel that we are not beautiful according to society’s standards. In Buying A Beauty Standard Or Dreaming of A New Life? Expectations Associated With Media Ideals by Renee Engeln-Maddox she says “Women have a tendency to link positive and likely life expectations with looking like the media ideal was significantly associated with both internalization of media ideals and appearance related dissatisfaction” (Engeln-Maddox). Maddox also touches on the idea that “Women are aware that their primary form of currency is their attractiveness”. This massive problem that women today have with themselves, and mainly their appearances, would be interpreted with help from what I have learned about feminism this semester as being very third wave. Before this current wave of feminism women weren’t as pre-occupied with body image but instead with trying to further themselves in the world in other ways. First and second wave feminists were trying to gain rights, and acknowledgment as being equal to men, not trying to maintain their worth not based on intelligence but on body image. This overwhelming obsession with what being beautiful is and what the standards actually are is beginning to take over our society; if we don’t

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begin to help the younger generations of girls there will be no stopping this media created monster called beauty.
Along with Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty they published a study titled The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report. Findings on the Global Study on Women, Beauty and Well-Being by Heidi D’Agnostino, Dr. Nancy Ectoff, Dr. Susie Orbach, and Dr. Jennifer Scott. They commissioned the study to further the global understanding of women, beauty and wellbeing and the relationship between them. A prime concern that this limited portrayal of beauty is preventing women from recognizing and enjoying beauty in themselves and others (The Real Truth About Beauty). This is what the Self-Esteem Fund is essentially seeking to do in its attention towards girls and women on their website. Along with Dove’s attempt to realign our way of thinking as women, they have gained support by consumers and other companies that are vital to their success and are helping them to continue their project and instill their ideas in society.
From my experiences as a young girl growing up in this time of media crazed ideas of beauty, I have been subject to the painful sting of what growing up in a society with views like ours feels like. Waking up day after day and feeling as though my self-esteem was crumbling beneath me because of the onslaught of images of perfection on TV and in magazines was not what would ever want to admit to. When I look at how much of my adolescence has been defined by me not feeling that I was adequate because of looks, I hope with my whole being that no other young girl ever has to feel that. Writing this media analysis was more than simply writing a paper for me. When I found the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty website I became extremely interested in their Self-
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Esteem section. The resources they have available and the whole idea of what they are trying to do seems to me to be the most positive action taken so far to redefine beauty into something positive and attainable. From my research I have learned that there is hope for generations to come and if only we all can take notice to campaigns like the Dove campaign and help to promote them further.

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