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05 JULY 2014

A Feminist Analysis of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

Abstract: "Drawing from several areas of research, this thesis explores the ways in which Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty appropriates feminist themes to sell beauty products, to the detriment of female consumers. Advertising and marketing have long held the power to create, shape, and reinforce cultural norms, and for years, advertisers have been able to propagate and strengthen gender stereotypes. Though there has been a push since the late 1990s to stem the flow of sexist and potentially dangerous advertising messages about women's bodies, ads still disseminate harmful messages that contribute to the further sexualization and oppression of women in the United States. Dove is just one of the many female–targeted brands that claim to hold progressive, woman–positive ideals, while still selling products intended to make women more beautiful–supposedly the ultimate goal for any modern female. While the campaign professes a desire to increase confidence and self–esteem for women and girls around the globe, it promotes a post–feminist, consumerist agenda that actually reinforces what Naomi Wolf titled 'the beauty myth'. Linguistic and visual analyses of Dove's print and viral marketing tactics within the contexts of advertising, feminism, and consumer culture reveal that instead of 'redefining' beauty, the Dove campaign is, in actuality, reinforcing decades–old ideology about women's appearance and status in society."

(Caitlin McCleary, 2014)

McCleary, Caitlin M., "A Not–So–Beautiful Campaign: A Feminist Analysis of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty" (2014). University of Tennessee Honors Thesis Projects. http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_chanhonoproj/1691

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TAGS

2013advertising campaignanxietyappropriationbeauty industrybeauty productsbody imageco-optionconsumer culturecultural normsdepictions of womendissertationDove (brand) • Dove Real Beauty Sketches (2013) • drawingemotional responseemotive manipulationempowerment themeevocative advertisingfemale consumerfemale-targeted brandsfeminist analysisfeminist themesgender stereotypesgendered brands • honours thesis • marketing campaign • Naomi Wolf • physical appearancepost-feminist agenda • real beauty • Real Beauty (campaign) • redefining beauty • self-criticism • self-esteemself-perceptionsexualisation • sketch artist • sketching • The Beauty Myth (1990) • Unilever • University of Tennessee • viralviral adviral advertisingviral marketing tactics

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 NOVEMBER 2013

The x:talk project: a sex worker-led knowledge sharing co-operative

"In early 2006 several activists based in London who are involved in sex worker rights activism, organising within the International Union of Sex Workers in particular, began to conceptualise and organise around the x:talk project–one that would seek to explore and expand the ideas and confidence we have developed in criticising the mainstream human trafficking discourse, drawing on insights we have gained from sex workers', migrant and feminist struggles.

The racist and anti–feminist trafficking rhetoric of 'protection', mainstream anti–trafficking campaigns that reduce women to only passive victims, under the control of organised crime or of cruel men produces and justifies deportation of migrant sex workers and increases the criminalisation and exploitation of workers in the sex industry. It creates divisions between migrants' and sex workers' forms of organisation and resistance.

We found language and communication to be crucial elements to directly challenge and change conditions of work and life, and to come to together and to organise. Communication is in our view central to change. Language is a basic individual and collective power that improves both possibilities to work and possibilities of resistance.

Central to our vision stands the autonomy of all people moving across borders and the dignity of every gender employing their resources in the sex industry. Central to our understanding of gender and social relations is an understanding of sex work as labour. People who sell sex are involved in a labour process in many respects similar to other paid personal services exchanged on market. At the same time we recognise that the ways in which sex work has existed are also deeply interrelated to the ways in which 'female' services, such as caring, domestic, sexual and reproductive activities are supposed to be provided. It is important to consider that the demand for money for sex in a transparent and potentially contractual way is often a break and significant shift in the way women are expected to give these services for no remuneration.

We consider that a feminist analysis and practice is crucial to changing the sex industry. Women represent the majority of workers in the industry and gendered sexualised and reproductive labour have historically constituted a central part in the structures that subordinate and oppress women. The people that have taken the main initiative of this organisation and project are women. Starting from the ground up, in a grass roots way we nevertheless aim to work with the whole industry. Due to the demographics of the workforce in the sex industry, women play a central role in the organisation and are expected to make up a majority of participants in the classes. We/they represent the majority and we/they enjoy the strongest voice at the moment. However issues of gender and transgender difference–at their intersections with racial and sexual issues are taken into account in the development of activities in order to include people from across the industry and from diverse backgrounds.

In contrast to the current mainstream anti–trafficking policies and discourses we work towards the improvement of working conditions in the sex industry; for rights and recognition of workers; the right to change work and not to be forced to stay with the same employer and the right to stay and not to be deported. Our organisation is based on a practice of sex workers self organisation and our projects are primarily built on an activity of networking with those that have already organised similar projects according to these principles."

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TAGS

2006activism • anti-trafficking campaigns • anti-trafficking discourses • anti-trafficking policies • autonomyborders • co-operative • collective power • criminalisation • cruel men • deportation • dignity • domestic services • empowermentexploitation • female services • feminist analysisfeminist perspectivefeminist struggles • forced labour • gender and social relations • gender difference • gendered labour • grass roots • human trafficking • immigrant experience • International Union of Sex Workers • knowledge sharing • labour process • language barrierslanguage learnerslanguage of thingslanguage skillslanguages of legitimationLondon • migrant sex worker • migrant struggles • migrant workers • organised crime • passive victims • personal services • power relationsprostituteprostitutionprotectionracist language • remuneration • reproductive activities • reproductive labour • rights and recognition • safeguarding • safer conditions • sexsex industry • sex work • sex worker • sex worker rights • sex workers • sexual exploitation • sexual issues • sexual slavery • sexualised labour • subordinate womentrafficking • trafficking rhetoric • transgender difference • victimwomenworkforce • working conditions • x:talk project

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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