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Dove's Viral Advertisement Sparks Discussion, Parodies

Update Date: Apr 22, 2013 09:58 AM EDT

Dove's advertising campaign has been shaped to change the way that women look at themselves, changing the standard of beauty from what women see in magazines and in movies into a more normal image of typical women. Last week, a video that the beauty company put out struck a nerve. Called Dove Real Beauty Sketches, the short clip has received over 18 million views on YouTube in just eight days. Already, the video has prompted discussion and a parody video of its own.

Inspired by research that states that only 4 percent of women consider themselves beautiful, the video shows women in a room. They were asked to describe their appearance to FBI forensic artist Gil Zamora. Each of the women shown in the video described their image in scathing terms, mentioning "big foreheads", "protruding jaw" and "rounder face".

Then the women were told to talk to other people, who described the women's features to Mr. Zamora. Of course, the people to whom the women spoke received a much more favorable impression of their features, describing a jaw line that the possessor described as "protruding" as "nice and thin". In the end of the video, the women view the images side by side, the images created by their descriptions and by the descriptions of other people. Invariably, the images created by the descriptions of other people look better than the ones drawn by their own. The tagline of the video is: "You're more beautiful than you think."

The video drew instant attention. Just three days after Dove's advertisement went on the Internet, a parody emerged. With 1.6 million views to its credit, the video follows the same formula as that of Dove, except men sit in the hot seat to describe themselves. While the men described themselves favorably, women described the men as "looking as bad as they smelled" and "like a garden gnome". At the end, the forensic artist's sketches looked like the images of famous movie stars based on the men's descriptions, while the sketches from the descriptions of other people are decrepit.

Other responses to the video are more eloquently critical. Avi Dan writes in Forbes that the message intends to be hopeful in positive, but implies that beauty is still what defines a woman.

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