This Company Is Selling Faux Feminism and We're Not Buying It

By: Leila Mire

You’re aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and you see women excited about the latest Dove commercial. It shows normal looking women accepting their imperfect bodies. They’re avidly sharing the ads and inspiring others with their personal body image struggles while commending the company for their progressive stance against the status quo. What an incredible company! Right? Unfortunately, the answer is more convoluted than that.

What companies like Dove are really doing is exploiting a vacant spot in the beauty industry. And if you’re anything like myself, you’re totally buying it.  So it’s time for me to get on my soapbox and make a few things clear.


Via Branding Mag

The parent company of Dove is called Unilever. Unilever is also known for products like Slim-Fast, Ben and Jerry’s, Fair and Lovely, Axe, and Vaseline. The sheer irony of their product variety points toward the brilliant capitalist system that exploits women every day.

Let’s begin with Slim-Fast, a company Unilever bought the exact same day as their purchase of Ben and Jerry’s. It was indeed a busy day for Unilever as they invested in Slim-Fast, a product intended to make people lose weight (targeting women in particular) while purchasing Ben and Jerry’s (whose products aren’t exactly friends of the dieting woman.) With Unilever’s vision you can try to lose weight with Slim-Fast and drown your sorrows in Ben and Jerry’s when you realize you fell for their false marketing.

While these two products are merely contradictory of one another, Unilever also owns companies with campaigns that are simply wrong on a fundamental level. Axe advertises a flagrantly misogynistic message that promotes the objectification of women. Meanwhile, a product called Fair and Lovely by Unilever sells an alarming skin-whitening cream that is sold and advertised heavily throughout the Middle East, parts of Africa, and India. Its ads directly point toward the colonialist, white agenda that claims “white is beautiful.” Likewise, Vaseline whose slogan is, “Do you see your skin the way we do? Your skin is amazing” is connected to Unilever’s Facebook App launched in India that allows users to whiten their skin on their profile pictures to promote Vaseline’s skin-lightening creams sold there.



Via HuffingtonPost

Finally, this brings us to the new Dove Real Beauty campaign that despite their seemingly natural looking women, actually photo shopped their models. This isn’t to say that some employees for Dove weren’t good intentioned. Likewise, I can’t pretend I wasn’t touched by the campaign. However, the truth is that companies like these are using feminism to profit off their customers. They are examining the damaging nature of beauty and benefiting off us from both angles. That being said, it is more pressing than ever that we realize how we’re being targeted and support companies with causes and advertisements that are truly geared toward empowering women and fighting the industries that exploit us.