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February 12, 2007

Reality vs. Our Perception of Beauty

Several months ago I saw a Dove video that was part of their “Campaign for Real Beauty” and it opened my eyes to new ways that technology has been used to alter our perceptions of beauty. This video took an average looking woman and did a time-warp makeover that transformed her into an amazing beauty. But it didn’t stop there.

Next the graphics designers took her image and enlarged her lips, lenghtened her neck, altered the shape and placement of her eyebrows, modified her shoulders, enlarged her eyes and performed other artistic touches that took her beyond the God-given features of any woman. The final shot zooms out from a public billboard showing the published results of their work.

It’s an amazing video. I was impressed with the well-done and tasteful makeover. For the record, I do support enhancing beauty using makeup and hair treatments (within moderation). I was initially shocked at the photo makeover though and felt that it went beyond reasonable editing to remove blemishes. I’m not saying that no photo should ever be edited or touched up, but it seems a bit dishonest to use marketing tactics to alter women’s (and men’s) perceptions of what beauty should be — especially when this level of beauty is not attainable in reality for anyone with any product they are selling.

I think this video should be “required viewing” for every teenager and adult, especially those who are vulnerable to the marketing and media definitions of beauty. It’s also worth periodic re-viewing to once again remind oneself that not everything in print and online is not a true representation of reality and should be evaluated carefully before being accepted.

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