Dove, Kelloggs & MAC – Female Empowerment Branding Revolutionizing Body Image Perspective


When it comes to body image and finding confidence in yourself, it’s all about perspective. But it’s hard to have a positive one when the majority of messages we see in the media subliminally tell us we’re not good enough or beautiful enough until we buy a product, change ourselves and understand how fundamentally flawed we are.

It is a vicious cycle that has persisted for far too long, and we are proud to be part of a collective movement aiming to stand against the negative messages in the media.

There is significant change happening in the way the advertising industry is targeting consumers, and it’s thanks to brands like Dove which has lead the way on showing the world that taking advantage of a woman’s low self-esteem isn’t the only way to make money. The idea that a woman can be happy with the way she looks and who she is and STILL choose to buy body lotion is now becoming more of the dominant message than the opposite.

The phenomenon has often been labeled as “femvertising”, where feminist messages of female empowerment have taken over the negativity. It’s easy to laugh it off or brush the label aside as some cute little moniker, but it actually speaks to a deeper level of body acceptance that is happening in society, and it is powerful to witness.

There are now more brands than ever trying to jockey for the position of “female empower-er” but not every label gets it right. When you are still dealing with an industry that is largely about looks and physical appearance, the lines can get a little blurred, so we feel it is important to share the messages that do hit home in the right way.


Dove has just released a new video focusing on teen girls called ‘Change One Thing’. As part of their initiative to help mothers and their daughters feel great about themselves without passing on negative body image messages from generation to generation, this message aims to help break the cycle by shifting their perspective.

The video shows a series of teen girls answering the question “what is one thing you would change about yourself”. The answers predictably range from hair, to height, looks, weight etc. The video ends by challenging parents (essentially) to change one thing: how girls see themselves. They want to teach them that the perspective of focusing on so-called flaws compared to some unrealistic, photoshopped standards, is what is wrong, not them.

“Girls are bombarded with unrealistic expectations of what they ‘should’ look like. Encourage a girl in your life to realize she doesn’t need to change one thing about her appearance,” says a description about the video.

This campaign is part of its ongoing global ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ that launched more than ten years ago and aims to celebrate all types of women and make them more comfortable in their own bodies. They partnered with Pinterest this time around to create a series of inspirational boards filled with words and messages of positivity for women and their daughters.

As part of Dove’s Self Esteem project, they also released a short campaign video called ‘No Likes Needed’ which speaks directly to the social media culture young women are firmly entrenched in, which comes with its own set of unique body dilemmas.

Their research indicates a young women’s self esteem gets worse as she grows older, and because of digital platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, there is a damaging mindset that says validation comes from the amount of people “liking” a photo. Dove wants to help girls realize the power of validation is in their possession, because the only “like” that counts is their own.

To build even further on the idea of shifting our perspective toward something that is more self-empowering, cereal manufacturer Kelloggs in Canada have released a new campaign called ‘Own It’ helping women to love and own who they are right now.

Most of us associate Special K as the cereal brand known for its dieting messages. That iconic image of the woman eating cereal and fitting into a slimming red dress in the commercials that were played over and over again on television throughout the 90s is almost burned into our memories.

But after a large study undertaken by the brand which examined Canadian women’s attitudes, it seems they are trying to re-position themselves as a name associated with self-worth rather than living by the numbers to reach some lofty weight loss goal that is not necessarily the healthy ideal for every woman’s body.


Now that advertisers and brands are recognizing the need to cater to individual and diverse consumers, rather than perpetuate conformity and uniformity, we are seeing the floodgates open to female empowerment, and the (long-awaited) light bulbs going off in the heads of brand executives.

“Fact: 97% of women have an ‘I hate my body moment every day. We believe 100% of women can change something more important than the size of our butt. We can change our perspective,” says the voice over in the Kelloggs video below where we see a group of women in different scenarios all standing before a mirror, which shatters when we hear the word “perspective”.

It is a powerful and bold statement to make from the brand, which also signifies them breaking out of their old ways of thinking.

“What it we’re nicer to ourselves? Let’s be perfectly imperfect. Let’s take a long look in the mirror at the good and the not-so-good, and proudly own it all.”

The idea that every woman should be able to own who she is, how she is, and be given permission to feel confident where she is at is a really important message, and it is worth repeating over and over again. There are still far too many body police out there online and in the real world ready to criticize a plus size woman such as Tess Holliday because they believe she is “promoting obesity” simply for not openly admitting how ashamed she is of not looking like a Victoria’s Secret model.

It’s as if we have gotten so brainwashed by the narrow beauty messages that even though advertising standards may have now changed, the mindset of people still remains firm and unmoving. We are used to accepting women and applauding them for losing weight, shrinking their bodies and going on diets.

But just because a woman happens to be a size 22 and is happy, we automatically assume she has no health aspirations or does no exercise. In fact the aforementioned Tess Holliday has posted images of herself at the gym here and there amongst her modeling pics just to shut the mouths of the naysayers who claim she is spreading a dangerous message.

Why are we so hell bent on making sure women hate themselves to health and happiness? Why can’t a woman enjoy herself and be happy with the weight she is at right now, even though she may be trying to lose a bit of weight or get healthier? And even if we do see a woman larger than the media ideal and she shows no signs of changing herself, why do we get to weigh in (excuse the pun!) and offer our opinion on how she needs to “get in line” so to speak?

Because we are still learning about the whole perspective thing. We need to stop policing other people’s bodies and lives, and turn our attentions to ourselves.


The last brand we want to share about in this post is Mac Cosmetics. In looking ahead to their new line of Fall products advertising spots, they decided to cast fans instead of models for their MACnificent Me campaign. They chose 6 people to be flown out to New York to take part in a shoot for the make up brand.

One of the women featured was Luzmaria Vargas from California, who had the chance to share about her struggles with body image.

“Some people think just because you’re overweight, you don’t have feelings. But with this, I’m going to prove . . . I don’t have a gorgeous body; I mean, I don’t think I’m beautiful, but look at where I’m at. It was really the inside that counted, and I don’t need to be a size two . . . I’m here,” she says as we see her get transformed from jeans an t-shirt into a signature Avant Garde Mac-style promo model in the video below.

Theirs is a shift in perspective in a different, but equally powerful way as the other brands. While Dove is known for using everyday women and girls in its advertising, MAC is synonymous with high profile celebrities who put their names on signature limited release lines for the makeup brand.

It’s clever marketing because it appeals to a much more diverse consumer base, but it also finally has a scrap of authenticity in its branding, telling their loyal users that they actually care about them.


“I don’t need to be size 2, skinny. I’m here!” said Luzmaria in the MACnificent Me video.

“I know there’s so many women out there that won’t express themselves for the fact that they’re overweight. I hope that this helps someone out there,” she adds at the end after we see her get her makeover.

While it is emotional seeing Luzmaria break down and express how she has felt about her body over the years and the cruel things people have said to her, we can’t help but feel that the advertising industry and beauty brands have had a huge hand in telling society to continue the message of shaming by telling women who don’t fit into their narrow ideal that they aren’t good enough.

These industries have been very successful in creating “foot soldiers” bearing a negative and damaging message which shames women into changing who they are to please the system, rather than changing their perspective.

We can only hope that with the shift in messaging toward something more empowering and toward something that builds confidence, we will begin to see a whole new generation of soldiers and warriors determined to spread body positivity, kindness and love.

Here’s to femvertising being more than just a trend, but an institution, and an icon.


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  3. Pingback: FEMINIST FRIDAY: Dove Takes On Sexism & Self-Esteem, Aerie Champions Body Positivity - GirlTalkHQ

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