‘Real’ women and ‘real’ beauty

Witch.Wordswrote a blog post regarding Doves casting call for a ‘Real Beauty’ photo session in NY. Here is the casting call:

DOVE “REAL WOMEN” PRINT CASTING JUNE 28-30, 2010 in NYC
ABSOLUTELY NO ACTRESSES / MODELS OR REALITY SHOW PARTICIPANTS or ANY ONE CARRYING A HEADSHOT!!!!
REAL WOMEN ONLY!
LOOKING FOR 3-4 REAL WOMEN for a DOVE PRINT CAMPAIGN!

AGES 35-45, CAUCASIAN, HISPANIC, AFRICAN AMERICAN, & ASIAN!
SHOOT: SUNDAY, JULY 18 in NYC! MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR THE SHOOT!
RATE: $500 for Shoot date & if selected for Ad Campaign (running 2011) you will be paid $4000!
USAGE: 3 years unlimited print & web usage in N. America Only
YOU WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED FOR THE CAMPAIGN IN A TOWEL!
BEAUTIFUL ARMS AND LEGS AND FACE WILL BE SHOWN!
MUST HAVE FLAWLESS SKIN, NO TATTOOS OR SCARS!
Well groomed and clean…Nice Bodies..NATURALLY, FIT Not too Curvy Not too Athletic.
Great Sparkling Personalities. Beautiful Smiles! A DOVE GIRL!!!
STYLISH AND COOL!
Beautiful HAIR & SKIN is a MUST!!!

Real women! As long as you conform to these standards. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Beautiful HAIR & SKIN is a MUST!!! Now, I was talking this over with Mark, and he made the point that Dove are not going to use women without beautiful skin and hair (to whatever standard they will judge this) as they sell hair and beauty products. They want people that make their products look good. So, fair enough.
No tattoo or scars. Sorry, how does this detract from how beautiful someone’s skin is? Now, I understand that tattoos aren’t for everyone. I get that. Scars? Really? Scars can be beautiful, as can tattoos.
Well groomed and clean. Yeah, I can see that.
Nice Bodies..NATURALLY, FIT Not too Curvy Not too Athletic. What? Naturally fit? Or, is it nice bodies, naturally and fit is the next item on the list? Either way, the addition of naturally is…odd. Not to mention how subjective not too curvy, not too athletic can be.
Then some stuff about personality and smiles and cool and stylish.

This seems problematic, given their campaign to help self acceptance, and boost morale. But we don’t want to be too accepting now. That’s just silly.

Now, I have issues with the ‘real women’ meme that has been floating around. I understand it from a standpoint of against photoshopped/airbrushed images of women. That’s a backlash I can get behind. The fact that it’s impossible to be pretty or thin enough for The Powers That Be is dangerous.
The issue I have is when people take this backlash against airbrushing and turn it against thin women. There’s lots of facebook groups proclaiming that ‘Real women have curves.’ And women who don’t are, what? Mannequins? Androids perhaps. No. They are real women too. Real women are thin, fat, in between, curvy and not. It’s dehumanising, and putting forward yet another arbitrary standard for women to conform to.

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