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Why is everyone talking about Dove’s latest ad #StopTheBeautyTest 2.0

As Dove launches a sequel of its #StopTheBeautyTest ad campaign on Daughters’ Day 2022, it has opened the gates for public scrutiny wherein netizens have given both a warm welcome and quashed it at the same time

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Last year, Dove began an initiative #StopTheBeautyTest urging the country to confront how beauty biases are amplified during the process of finding a life partner. The campaign showcased how the remarks deeply impacted the self-esteem of prospective brides.  

This year, on the occasion of Daughters’ Day, Dove rolled out the sequel of the award-winning campaign #StopTheBeautyTest. The brand also launched a full-page print ad in newspapers urging people to change the definition of beauty and pledge to #StopTheBeautyTest. 

Through the caption for the brand film, Dove India stated, “Her face and body are not your mark sheet. The biggest test Indian girls face in their school years is the beauty test. Dove says #StopTheBeautyTest.”

Dove’s The Beauty Report Card ad:

Through this effort, Dove intends to send a powerful message- to change ‘beauty’ from its conventional lens and bring an end to report cards that are based on external remarks. The brand urges society to place emphasis on in-classroom education, instead of seeing young girls from the eyes of a prospective groom. 

Madhusudhan Rao, Executive Director, Beauty and Personal Care for Hindustan Unilever, opined, “Over the last 10 years, with the Dove Self-Esteem Project, we are working towards a vision where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. We want to empower young girls to rise above the unjust beauty report cards given to them and be confident in their own skin.”

Rao added, “As a brand that is committed to taking tangible action to change beauty, we hope the real-life stories of young girls is an eye opener for the society to take notice leading to a behaviour change. Dove is on a mission to ensure the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look.”

According to Zenobia Pithawalla, Senior Executive Creative Director and Mihir Chanchani, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy, “The ‘beauty test’ has become such an integral part of our society that it starts right from the school years for girls. Their face and body become a mark sheet for society to score. In this campaign, Dove shows us the plight and the determination of the schoolgirls to not give into this grading system. It urges society to stop the beauty test and to start building the beauty confidence of young girls.”

As per Dove, “It was addressing these angsts and discouraging societal stereotypes within the construct of marriage when the brand uncovered a key moment of truth wherein the first tryst with appearance-led anxiety amongst women started much younger, as early as adolescence.”

“At a time when these girls should be concentrating on education, they are being unknowingly subjected to beauty biases by society. This early conditioning and grooming lead to them being graded as per a societal prescription of beauty- significantly affecting their overall confidence,” Dove pointed out in a statement.

Furthermore, with Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest 2.0, the second leg of the initial campaign, has shifted its focus on the root of the problem, from prospective brides to teenage girls.

In the latest brand film, Dove has featured real girls narrating real stories of how they have been subjected to varied beauty tests based on their appearances and thereby rated by society on their looks instead of their intellect or aptitude.

Sanjiv Mehta, CEO and Managing Director, HUL and President, Unilever South Asia, also took to LinkedIn and said, “Ahead of #InternationalDaughtersDay, pleased to launch phase 2 of our #StopTheBeautyTest movement. Our new brand communication sheds light on the scrutiny and low self-esteem young girls encounter in society because of unrealistic beauty norms.” 

Netizens also went on to point out that the timings of Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest 2.0 was very apt on Daughters Day in the country and applauded the haircare and skincare brand’s vision of a world where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety.

Another LinkedIn user also went on to add that it is high time that young girls were taught that they should be more focused on their dreams, passions, and careers, than on what society thinks of them and their looks. “It’s high time we empowered them to tie their hopes and dreams together rather than “tie the knot” sooner. It’s high time we taught them to chase what they want to achieve in life and not join the rat race to chase a “man of their dreams,” she added.

In fact, one of the LinkedIn users also went on to state, “As a father with one lovely daughter, I feel deeply for the cause. You would agree that our children's formative years are critical, and if done right, we set them up for life. Therefore, we must create an environment where girls can feel more confident about themselves and focus on who they are as individuals, not how they look.” 

Some of the netizens also took to LinkedIn to state how they resonated with the campaign on a personal level and said, “Takes a lot of time and gumption and a rock-solid support system (which I am blessed with) to build back self-esteem & self-love that society, men and women alike, consciously or not, keeps chipping at, since childhood.”

However, some of the netizens found the ad to be inauthentic and merely a gimmick by Dove. One of the LinkedIn users also pointed out that it is a very ‘advertising’ thing to create an enemy, in this case- look-based discrimination, but how does it take care of the collateral damages made and questioned if there is a better way to make such ads more authentic.

Hindustan Unilever, the parent company of Dove in India, also owns Glow and Lovely which was formerly known as Fair and Lovely. As a result, some of the netizens also went on to highlight that it is such ads that bring out the irony of conflicting ideas within sub-brands and add to the inauthenticity of the ads.

Another LinkedIn user also went on to point out, “It was really rich of #Unilever to peddle #StopTheBeautyTest at one end and continue to peddle key perpetrator of #beautytest the beauty-cream #FairandGlow on the other hand!”

He further also went on to point out that if Unilever truly believes in the narrative, stands for the daughters and has its conscience in place, it should have withdrawn one of their creams, which is actually banned in Norway already, instead of creating a juvenile smoke screen of changing the name.

Another netizen also took a jibe at Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest when he questioned if it was the campaign through which the skincare brand wanted to highlight that a beauty test is perhaps fine and doesn’t need to be started at an early age.

He also stated, “Matlab, pehle zara beauty confidence banne do… once girls grow enough self-esteem for themselves, i.e., by doing well at educating themselves well and doing well at school tests etc. etc., then they should be able to withstand the pressure of ‘beauty test’ by the big bad society out there?”

Furthermore, one of the LinkedIn users also went on to question as to why do brands choose to perpetuate a regressive representation when they can choose to drown out the regressive stereotype with fresh images and words that normalise happy young women, no matter what their physicality.

Additionally, a netizen also highlighted that if Dove’s intention or assumption to point out that darker girls will lose the beauty test because dark is really in fashion these days. “In this context, Dove sounds very patronising and out of sync. The battle Dove took on in the early 2000s has now become the new normal. It’s time for #dove to recalibrate its strategy,” he added.

However, one of the LinkedIn users also went on to point out that it was Dove which in 1950 stated that it is not a soap but a ‘beauty bar’, then in 1980- ‘Glow with Dove’ and in 2010- ‘Let’s change beauty’ and thus has evolved as a personified brand.

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