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Dove

Femvertising And What It Says About Us

You would have to live under a rock to avoid advertising in our 21st century capitalist society. Whether it's billboards as we cruise down the highway, pop-ups on our laptops, or commercials crammed between the cliffhangers of our favorite shows, ads pervade nearly every facet of our lives. Naturally, businesses and nonprofits are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to grab our attention and our money. It should come as no surprise, then, that more and more ad campaigns have begun to cater to a target demographic's ideals and values.

Ad Conscious and Self-Conscious

Dove tells me I am beautiful as I am. Pantene exposes the double standard between men and women. Always reminds me that “like a girl” should never be an insult. 

And suddenly I am transported into a golden era of feminism wherein I feel completely comfortable with my appearance, my life goals, and my femininity. 

Or maybe not. 

Soap: The Slippery Slope

“The greatest skin care discovery of all time!” boasts the 1957 black and white commercial, showing a still of the New York skyline. The camera then pans up to show a flock of white doves flying away, leaving a giant white Dove soap bar to fill the screen. The crackling voice explains the benefits of using a Dove bar instead of another soap product, demonstrating this by having a beautiful blonde young woman wash each side of her face with a different product.

Advertising Is Advertising Is Advertising

Advertising is advertising is advertising. I will preach this from the mountaintops. When people talk about the cultural ramifications of “feminist” advertising, I have to roll my eyes a little bit. Advertising has one main goal: to sell people things. The methods employed to make people buy  these things might change but advertising is not deep, it’s not intellectual, and frankly, I don’t think it’s all that important.

Seeing is Believing

These advertisements, written roughly forty to fifty years ago, speak for themselves. (I found them in a blog post called “Vintage Politically-Incorrect Advertising”—never have I been more grateful for political correctness.) Interestingly, all of them seemed to be aimed at men. I suspect the reason for that is a simple one: the men, at the least in the eyes of the ad men, were the ones with the money in their pockets.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Dove." (Viewed on December 18, 2017) <https://jwa.org/tags/dove>.

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