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


Welcome to another Feminist Friday! That day of the week where we wrap up 5 days of werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, by showcasing our favorite new videos that have a feminist message. This week’s it’s all about body image, starting with the brand that has literally pioneered a body image advertising revolution with (wait for it…) real women’s bodies (how long did it take the advertising industry to wake up to this??), Dove!

Their recent #MyBeautyMySay video really took things up a notch by moving away from focusing on just body shape and appearance, to placing emphasis on women’s abilities, especially in the area of sports. And given the amount of inane sexism toward female athletes in the recent Rio Olympic games by the media, this first video titled ‘Dear Media: An Athlete’s Beauty Is Her Say’, reinforces the problem we have in broadcast coverage of women’s events. As Eliza Williams at CreativeReview.co.uk points out in her article, it is a sticky point that even the empowering messages have to be brought under the “beauty” umbrella, but of course that is part and parcel of the advertising world.

At least there is a message worth sharing beyond brand recognition here. The notion that for men, it is all about their achievements and ability, and for women it’s all about how they look, has been shown over and over again. And until the media wakes up and starts treating these athletes as human, and with the same level of respect afforded to the men, this is a message that bears repeating as often as possible until the sexism is a thing of the past.

One of the reasons this is so important is because of how it affects the younger generation. If girls grow up with the subconscious message that their looks matter more than their talent, is it any wonder what they will spend their life trying to fix?

Dove Australia’s simple yet effective video titled ‘What Is Your Daughter Searching For?’ is part of their self-esteem project. The idea was to engage parents and make them aware of the pressures facing teen girls today, by showcasing some of the popular internet search terms the brand found after surveying 30,000 Australia girls aged 13-17, according to Mumbrella.com.au.

“Parents want to believe that their daughters are happy, confident and immune to the social pressures surrounding body image. But what if you could see what your daughter is really searching for online? Would it tell you a different story about her self-esteem?” says the description of the video, which is designed to place emphasis on the emotional needs of teen girls, and the underlying problems that lead them to google plastic surgery, for instance.

And finally this week, Aerie lingerie, American Eagle’s breakout subsidiary brand over the past few years, has put together a collection of body positive messages from 40 women as part of the #AerieReal campaign. The ‘Share Your Spark’ video is strategically targeted at a young female audience by including a number of bloggers and social media fans to encourage the generation that spends a lot of time on social media and engaged in digital media.

Researchers from the California State University of Northridge conducted a study in 2015 and found “the more time people spend on social media, the more depressed they become when comparing their lives to others. By constantly referencing the pictorial perfection that is portrayed through social media accounts, it makes people feel bad about their own lives for not seeming as exciting and perfect,” writes Jamie Perez at the Sundial CSUN school news site.

While there are plenty of negative associations with social platforms, Aerie is putting their dollars to good use by creating messages that seek to inspire, not tear down, young girls in their campaigns. It goes beyond just the usual advertising designed to sell product at all cost. Aerie is deliberately dipping its toes into the body positive movement not just to cash it on the momentum, but to listen to what girls and women really want out of the brands they buy and deliver accordingly.

And hey, if this becomes the “norm” in advertising, we don’t have a problem with that! Stay tuned for the next installment of Feminist Friday, and enjoy Aerie’s ‘Share Your Spark’ video:



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