The images that shape us

By now, everyone knows the commercial spots from Doves “campaign for real beauty“. The first one (“evolution“) about how images are transformed in commercials and the pro-age one, actually part of another campaign but with similar methods. The one no one knows, however, is one of the most effective commercials I’ve seen – “Onslaught” – (and I watch a lot of TV). The beginning is kind of slow – face shot of a young girl, where nothing happens, but you know it’s about to, if only for the “here it comes” repeated in the song. Then comes a spew of pictures, very well accorded to the song in my opinion, about the advertisement industry. What fashion, cosmetics, food products have to say about how women should be. It really sums up how I feel about most ads I see, coming at us from all sides, portraying impossible standards. But see for yourself:

The reason you probably haven’t seen this commercial yet is because it was banned. Like many other good ads. The reason this time was hypocrisy (what else is new?). Dove is part of the Unilever concern, a big corporate group also including (for example) Axe, which in return shows commercials of exactly that nature: women who are perfectly beautiful, no blemishes, open and willing. On You Tube you can also find a spoof of “Onslaught”, where Unilever pictures were put on top of those used in the original. There isn’t a big difference. But still, I think it was wrong to not air the ad. For one, the axe spots are still running. Two, it’s not a big surprise that corporates pick and chose their commercials according to their target group and show at least two different faces. This is capitalism, after all. Thirdly, even though you can’t deny the hypocrisy, I think this commercial has a good message, and that should be put out there. So what if the concern only wants to make money? Does that lessen the impact of those images? Can’t women still have their self esteem concerning their bodies lifted by it?

Then I found another ad, which makes a point. It is also copying onslaught, showing the multi-facedeness of conglomerates, but in a different direction. In this commercial, called “(on)slaught(er)”, Greenpeace shows the devastation of forests for palm oil.

My heart bleeds even more when I watch that one. I know I’ve been all over you guys with my feminist issues, but the truth is that’s not the only battlefront I’m fighting on. If you had heard me last year, you’d have had an earful about the environment. The year before that, in which I took a philosophy class on animal and nature ethics, all I could think about was animal rights. I am a member of Peta and of Greenpeace. I don’t follow these movements because they’re “in”. I might change my focus from time to time, but these issues were and always will be important to me. The hard part, as I have tried to display with these ads, is that a lot of these issues are contradictory. Try being ecological and drive with eco fuel – you’re destroying food reserves for millions of people. It’s just not possible to consider everything at once. So I pick my battles and do a little at a time. I hope you consider some things as well.

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One thought on “The images that shape us

  1. i think these commercials are not contradictory. the first one is not just for the product dove after all but also for their campagne to enhance self-esteem. which i realise they do only to sell more body lotion but which is still a worthwile cause. a lot of harm is caused by the unrealistic ideals of beauty in the world today.
    i find it strange that greenpeace had to adopt this commercial, making it seem that what it portrays is trivial in comparison to the destruction of the environment caused by the production of dove soap. there are many commercials out there that deserve to be exposed as superficial, why chose this one. but i guess when you’re fighting to save the environment nothing else seems as important in the end.

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