Dove did not miss the mark, we just spotted it.
If someone asked me: “what was one thing that stood out for you this past week?” my response would simply be - the Dove advertisement. Now, if you do not know what I am talking about then you must be living under a rock. This past week, Dove released an Ad showing a women of a darker skin colour (black) taking off her nude coloured shirt (depicting her own skin colour) which in turn allows her to turn into a lighter skin colour (caucasian). Assuming the idea behind the ad was to show that one need not use any chemicals to get a lighter complexion. One only needs to wash with Dove and all that will be taken care of. Now the reason why this is one of my personal highlights of the week is that it sparked conversation, it got people talking and analysing things they’ve been overlooking for far too long.
I personally don’t think the ad is racist however, I do believe it’s racially insensitive. Same goes for their 2011 Ad campaign, were a black woman is seen on the “before side” and a white woman appears on the “after far end” where there is smoother and more desirable skin. A lot of people will say we are reading too much into it and it really isn’t that big of a deal. But if you read my previous article titled, “I am black, I am female and they say I am a problem” you will understand why it's such a big deal for us.
Advertisements are symbolic. Often much does not need to be said or shown but they use subtle messages to put the point across; and that my people is the creative world of advertising. The sad part about this is that we catch on, take the message and embody it. And to top it all, we leave in an ever-changing world that is quickly becoming very vocal. It’s becoming harder and harder for brands to convey their traditional views such as whiteness being the beauty standard, but their core message still remains.
Calling out Dove is not solving the problem but simply pinpointing what we have come to learn and know that whiteness equals beauty and “is this has been the norm”. I personally would not want to see such a moment go to waste but hope it further evokes conversation and genuine analyses of what it is that we as black people have been fed, and what the repercussions are and have been. We need to check our commercials, TV shows and our beloved magazines.
For example, historically a black woman's hair was regarded as unruly, which was then transcended to her being wild in comparison to a white women. This goes back to the point I made earlier that whiteness has always been portrayed as the ‘’norm’’. Such portrayals have lead to most black woman desiring to be white, by straightening their hair by using chemicals.
I recently picked up a True Love Magazine which 92% of its readers are black, but noticed how most of their advertisements are of hair relaxers which puts across a message that soft, silky and ‘’manageable’’ hair is regarded as being attractive. I mean, one natural hair advertisement or photoshoot will not distract us from the hundreds of straight and silky hair promotions. Contrary to popular belief, the media is not a representation of society but the media creates representations for society to embody. What sells is what we are conditioned to want to buy. Black woman stay woke.