New Dove Ad Says We Can Recognize Friends' Beauty But Not Our Own

We're probably supposed to find this new "real women" ad from Dove U.S. inspiring. A riff on previous ads from Dove South Africa and Dove Global, the spots suggest that women can't find one thing about their looks that they "really love" — though they have no problem paying their friends compliments. "If we can see the beauty in others, why can't we see it in ourselves?" Dove asks.

To me, the ad reads as a pretty uninspired edition in Dove's somewhat hollow body positivity campaign. But I'm cynical. Maybe they're compelling and poignant, as HuffPost Women's Emma Gray calls them. They kind of do beg the question: Can "most women really (not) name even one part of their body that they love?" as Gray puts it. Or rather have women just "been socialized to accept compliments with reticence and feel uncomfortable praising themselves?"

Kate Fritkis wrote about this earlier this year:

Women are sometimes dismissed as vain or superficial for being concerned about their appearances, even in a world that seems unable to stop thinking about feminine beauty for the short span of a city block or a TV commercial. And yet, to feel good about the way we look is perhaps a greater sin. Or at least, if we do for some reason feel lovely and unconcerned with our bodies and our faces, we should probably keep quiet about it. Maybe there's nothing to say. But maybe we render ourselves strangely vulnerable by saying something. It is easy to be self-critical. It can be funny, social, normal. Sometimes girls and women bond with each other through litanies of self-effacement.

Tracy Moore at Jezebel wrote a pretty brilliant essay in response about how women are all to aware of their own "prettiness factor" (but know better than to talk about it). Even clearly beautiful female celebrities are quick to position themselves as outside beauty norms. There's a fine line between having self-esteem (the good, socially acceptable kind where you maybe feel a little good about yourself but also still kinda hate yourself or at least pretend like you do) and actually, really feeling good or comfortable (or even just being realistic) about oneself and talking about it. I get where Dove's going with this latest commercial, but I'm not sure it really illustrates that women can't see the beauty in themselves so much as that they can't talk about it.

Dove US on YouTube

Image: Bustle Stock Photo