Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Public Nudity

I saw this ad yesterday near Times Square (49th and 8th) and I don't get why the women have to be nude. To me that totally undermines the point of the ad.

On one hand Dove presumably celebrates women in this age group by acknowledging that they exist and by featuring them in the ad. On the other hand it cuts them down to size by depicting them as totally exposed and vulnerable. There's nothing positive or empowering about vulnerability in this context.

Public nudity isn't an asset; it's a handicap. At the risk of stating the obvious, there's a reason why we never see truly powerful people au naturel.

So what exactly is Dove's message?


At 6:06 AM, Blogger figleaf said...

Hi Ema,

I figured it was because they sell bath soap with all kinds of skin softeners in it so they saw it as showing off their product.

Your points stand, though, whatever their intentions.

As representations of women in advertising go, though, these poses are considerably more dignified than average, with a surprisingly high confidence to demureness ratio. Again, as ads go. And again, your points stand.

Take care,


At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you really think they look vulnerable?
They look pretty comfortable to me, considering they have to take poses that don't reveal much.
But maybe i'm just projecting : I don't feel specially vulnerable when naked (except maybe to draughts...)

Just found your blog. Having a look around. Don't mind me!

At 10:33 PM, Blogger ema said...


I forgot to take a pic of the other side of the ad. It's just a generic slogan, something like "Are you pro age?" Nothing about a specific skin product.


Welcome! I agree with both you and figleaf that, as ads go, the poses are OK. It's not that, it's the context I have a problem with.

Ads with women in this age group are rare, bordering on nonexistent. By featuring this group (and having a "pro age" tag line) I take it Dove wants to convey a positive message about these women. All good. But having them exposed (I maintain that being naked in public is a vulnerability) conveys weakness.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger KNC said...

from what i remember, dove did a beauty of all kinds campaign where they wanted women to celebrate how different they were in age, race, and especially size. they did some great ads of larger women looking great (and looking comfortable in their own skin).

campaign for real beauty by Dove

its really quite good. the ad seems to be a good reflection of it. being comfortable in their own skin whether it sags, is dimpled, or isn't completely smooth.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger A. said...

Yes, they're more dignified than average - but only for women. They wouldn't be considered more dignified than average for men - not at all. What's more, it's saying, yes we are older, but, joy of joys, we could almost be taken for being younger.

This is how I would like to see older women portrayed: beautiful with no pretensions of being anything other than what she is.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Ren said...

I would not agree that being naked in public is inherently vulnerable if you do not feel vulnerable.

While Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign is a nice idea, they're still selling a beauty product (not a health product). FYI: they're owned by Unilever, the same company that produces Axe body spray, which not exactly woman-friendly advertising.

At 1:54 AM, Blogger emilyb said...

I don't think nudity equals less powerful, and I think the ads are dignified; although, they are still not true body types. Still slenderized women.

I was at the theatre one night when the Dove at played, and some teenage girls were snickering at them and yelling "Gross." Now THAT makes me sad.

I did yell back at them to, "Just wait sweetie! It's gonna happen to you too!"

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I believe when Dove began their campaign several years ago....they started out with good intentions...
Unfortunately due to the down slide of what is the norm today as in less is more...they are trying to get women to feel sexy nakid no matter what body type they are.

Your point is valid at any rate as..nudity is what it is. It is exploiting in many of the wrong ways and yes I do believe it most definitely is a handicap for many many women.


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