Dove is once again under fire for its latest advertisement, "Choose Beautiful," part of the personal care brand's 10-year-old Real Beauty campaign.
The most recent ad sees women in San Francisco, London, Sao Paolo, Shanghai and New Delhi choose between walking through a set of two doors labeled "Average" and "Beautiful."
Though a lot of people commend Dove's apparent efforts to promote self esteem, others question the sincerity of a corporation whose lifeblood depends on women purchasing products to make themselves more "beautiful."
Many critics have pointed out that Dove is simply skimming the surface of beauty and self-esteem — two concepts Dove claims to understand and advocate for.
One argument against the company's Choose Beautiful ad is that women don't necessarily have to feel beautiful to have high self-esteem. And instead of giving women two superficial choices, Dove could have added several qualities — such as Funny, Intelligent, Unique or Kind.
"With Dove only focusing on beauty, it seems as if this is a marketing campaign, which, at the end of the day, it is," wrote Desiree Pharias of State Press.
"For Dove to make the change that it is seeking out, it needs to add in more in-depth campaigns that will make women think of their other admirable traits."
To make matters worse for the women who walked through the Average door, Dove confronted them about their choice on the camera, suggesting that walking through the Average door automatically meant the women had low self esteem.
Maybe some of the women couldn't be bothered to participate in an experiment they didn't consent to, or they weren't comfortable "choosing beautiful" in front of a film crew. Or they simply didn't want to label themselves with such a loaded word in first place.
Dove's supposed promotion of self esteem isn't limited to TV commercials. The brand has taken its campaign to Twitter, responding to women who tweet about their insecurities by telling them to mask their negative feelings about themselves by thinking happy thoughts.
— Dove (@Dove) April 7, 2015
@_lotus_child We all get caught up in comparisons sometimes, but it's what makes you unique that makes you beautiful, Rebekah. — Dove (@Dove) April 7, 2015
@OhMyGlawb Unfortunately, we all have these days. Try replacing one negative thought with two positive ones. #SpeakBeautiful — Dove (@Dove) April 3, 2015
Nina Funnell at the Daily Telegraph considers Dove's approach intrusive. Rather than telling women to shut up about their insecurities, Funnell said Dove should address the culture that demeans women and holds them up for evaluation on nothing more than their beauty.
"Instead of dismantling a toxic culture that makes women feel bad about themselves, Dove simply keeps pointing out how terrible it is that women feel like crap, before guilt-tripping those exact same women even further, for daring to have such low self-esteem," Funnell wrote. "It's a never-ending cycle."