Dove Uses Self-Portrait Photography Class and Exhibition to Help Redefine Beauty

If your advertising campaign’s goal is to redefine beauty and help High School girls accept and even embrace the flaws so studiously eliminated on magazine covers, you’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you. But Dove is fighting (and maybe even winning) that battle, and one of the ways they’re doing it is by putting the selfie to more empowering use.

The short doc Selfie, embedded above, shows how the company used the expertise of professional photographer Michael Crook and the oft-mocked ‘selfie’ to help High School girls and their mothers embrace the unique traits that they have, over the years, tried their best to hide.


The process involved giving the girls a photography workshop on the power of self-portraiture (much better term than selfie workshop, in our humble opinion) and then sending the girls home to take pictures of themselves that purposely incorporate the parts of them they didn’t like.

Those photos were then put up on display in an interactive exhibit where people were encouraged to write something they liked about the picture on a sticky note and attach it to the portrait.


In the end, of course, this is a marketing campaign, but the video struck a chord with us regardless. The practice of excessive retouching is so abhorred that some of that hate is spilling over onto photography as a whole. But photography is, or at the very least it can be, a great source for good.

To learn more about the Beauty Is campaign or ‘join the conversation’ with your own selfie, head over to the Dove website here.

(via PetaPixel Reader Tip)

  • Richard

    Brilliant, both as a documentary piece and as a Dove ad. Well done, thanks for posting.

  • Carl Meyer

    Simple makeup tips and basic hair styling can do much more for not so pretty girls, and boys, than buying onto Dove’s marketing because at the end of the day beauty prevails.

  • Renato Murakami

    You know why the ad still feels a bit weird? Because the way to solve problems related to beauty won’t be solved by “redefining beauty”.

    Because beauty is essencially (and will always be) a standard to measure superficial looks and aesthetics, often times putting it above other characteristics.
    No matter how much magazines and hygiene products will try to twist and turn the concept either to reach certain types of consumers or to avoid falling into the current stereotype, it doesn’t matter. Beauty is beauty.

    Provided that everyone has his/her own variation on the concept itself, but there will always be a mainstream definition of it.
    This of course also changes over the centuries. Remember that once fat defined upper class and thus beauty. Vast ammounts of jewelry was once considered beautiful once. The current one has to do with fitness, “natural beauty”. Fashion defines sometimes colorful and loose looks beauty, sometimes sober colors without much make beauty.

    And those have huge influences on people in general because admit it or not, as a society we tend to follow certain trends consciously or not.

    So Dove define that natural looks, less make up, makes everyone beautiful. That you don’t have to worry with x or y. That everything and everyone is beautiful.

    But an important factor for the industry, and I’d have to force by saying that to a point, to society also, beauty is about status and exclusivity. It’s part of the concept. It’s the reason why the concept exists in the first place.

    If everyone is beautiful, then no one is ugly, and the consequence of that is that there’s no reason for the concept in the first place.

    But there is a far more shurefire way to deal with beauty issues that of course, no beauty product will ever care about, because it doesn’t help them sell products. Which is: making people realize how much they themselves care about the concept of beauty, and then make a conscious effort to adjust those levels. Thing about how much you should really care about how beautiful you are. How much time, money and effort you apply in that, and how much of that is a waste (or not).

    Your time here, your significance in regards to your surroundings, and lots of other factors might be a bit too thin for you to keep wasting your time on assumptions of how people might think you look on a given photography. You might just be better off accepting that your nose, hair or whatever isn’t on par with standards of beauty and just letting it go than wasting your time trying to change and match it with something else all the damn time. Wouldn’t it be better to spend your time with things you might like than trying to shape yourself up to something others might judge more positively?

    Beauty is a thing. I’m not saying you should completely ignore it, but it certainly also shouldn’t be something that occupy all of your time, all of your thoughts, and compose of all of your worries. That’s how it should go, more or less.

  • Chris Pickrell

    The company that is telling you it understands how you feel, so you should TOTALLY buy their products, out of compassion, solidarity, or whatever you want to call it, is at it again.

    Sure their Real Beauty Campaign had the sketch artist who wasn’t a double blind experiment and KNEW who was going to get the ugly sketch and who was going to get the pretty one.

    And Sure, we have a beauty company telling us to stop photoshopping our images, and they use photoshopped images to prove how beautiful natural beauty is.

    And sure, they TOTALLY are on your side, it has zero to do with the fact that this is a marketing gimmick and they just want you to buy your products.

    Let’s just forget the fact that we’re trying to redefine beauty by defining what it is, instead of teaching people that everything is beautiful, they want you to think that you’re beautiful, but skinny and pretty, isn’t beautiful.

    But hey, at least they’re on our side, right?

  • Carl Meyer

    Beauty is not related to social status, the absence of ugliness doesn’t imply beauty or vice versa and accepting your imperfections is not in conflict with changing your appearance.

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  • snapshot1

    Every time I see something about Dove I’m reminded this is just the other side of of the same coin that Unilever uses to market body products. On one side they have Axe to get all the teen boys riled up and think they have a chance to be a “real man” through sexism, and on the other the pro “everyone is beautiful” Dove ads to make girls who just watched the Axe feel better about themselves and think there is a company out there that’s not like Axe looking out for them (when it’s the same company in reality). What’s even more abhorrent is that often these two ads will be shown in the same commercial cycle on TV.

  • Elizabeth Ann Sweet

    Thank you for this article and the Dove video, I don’t have a TV, so I miss a lot of commercials and I’m sure others ‘tune them out.’
    I have granddaughters, who, I’m sure, have their own ideas of beauty, some of them skewed, and this can show them how beauty really is “in the eye of the beholder,” and what they consider a minus, others consider as a plus.
    After all this has made me, an overweight, sixty-something woman, consider taking a few ‘selfies’ my self.
    I understand the idea started as an advertising campaign, but you do not have to use their products to see the message being promoted, that “what makes you different, also makes you beautiful.”

  • Chris Pickrell

    Did you see the one in the real sketches where the woman was so shocked, she needed the comfort of her man to make her feel better?