Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

November 15, 2006

Body Image: Discussion Starter

In late 2004, Dove launched a Campaign for Real Beauty, basically an ad campaign determined to challenge received and unhealthy ideas of "beauty," ideals that contribute to a society in which seven million women suffer from eating disorders. The first of these campaigns, "Real Women Have Real Curves," selected models who represented normal body types, rather than the ultra-skinny supermodels, and used them in a series of billboards. However, their latest ad is even more interesting, as it bracingly reveals the manipulation behind so much of our visual world, and what "beauty" is perceived to be:

Catholic Concepts Involved: dignity of human beings, people made in the image and likeness of God, the preferential option for the poor (and not beautiful?), being Christian in a consumer society, theology of the body, the virtue of modesty, any gospel story with Jesus healing the lepers, or the story of Saint Francis embracing the Christ-leper.

Fun Bonus: The comments on the You Tube ad are interesting in themselves, in particular when the art director for the film Tim Piper logs in under the handle and lets us know what went into making the ad:

We asked a high-end fashion photographer to make her look as beautiful as possible for a cover/billboard (normal advertising request). I asked the retoucher to save his progress in files/layers, and that's what was used to create the animation. It's 100% real. Retouching took 4 full days. Make-up, lighting, and shooting took about 4 to 5 hours.
Later he gives a chilling look behind the fashion industry "Clients demand the stereotypes." Indeed.

Want even further discussion? A recent poll in Canada showed that 8 out 10 men aged 28-45 found television ads from the campaign offensive.

Comments

1 Julie

Nov. 20, 2006
I showed this clip to all my hs girls and they were amazed. It was a great starting place for discussion of body image etc.

2 Julie

Nov. 20, 2006
I showed this clip to all my hs girls and they were amazed. It was a great starting place for discussion of body image etc.

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