Dove throws the ad world a curve

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2005

I would like to applaud the makers of Dove soaps, shampoos and lotions. I understand it’s been out for some time but a couple nights ago was my first exposure to a television ad that is creating buzz on the Internet.

The ad for Dove Firming Lotion, whatever that is, features a group of about 10 women standing in their underwear. While women in their underwear typically get my attention, these gals were particularly interesting because none of them was built like a pre-teen boy, apparently a pre-requisite for media stardom nowadays.

They all were about size 10s, I understand, a female size rarely seen on television or in movies and never on commercials. And not only did they appear to be enjoying themselves, comfortable in their bodies, but they looked darn good too.

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As the father of a 12-year-old girl who is beginning to be conscious of her body and not really liking what she’s seeing, I want to thank the Dove folks for taking the first step in recasting the ideal of female beauty.

Catherine’s room is plastered with photos of the likes of Lindsey Lohan, the Olsen girls, and other young female celebrities, all of whom look like they are battling a heroin addiction or certainly malnourished.Naturally, she would like to look like them because all she sees and hears about is how wonderful they look. And while she’s not fat by any means, neither is she rail-thin like the girls on her wall.

In other words, she is healthy and looks good, yet she frets about her weight and that make me angry at television, movie and advertising executives who have force fed Americans an unrealistic and, frankly, unattractive in my opinion, image of what a woman should look like.

God intended for women to have some curves and I for one, thank him for it. Society’s notion of female beauty is a pendulum. There was a time when the larger, softer, curvier female form was not only celebrated, but worshipped and immortalized by renaissance painters.

Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14; it doesn’t get any better than that, and I don’t think there’s an actress today who can touch Catherine Zeta Jones in terms of beauty.

I understand the Dove folks have received some complaints about the ad, but all of them have been from men, obviously men who do not have young daughters and who harbor unrealistic fantasies about how a woman should look. I hope women respond to the ad, not just by calling Dove and praising their decision to use real women in their promotion, but by purchasing the product.

Moving product, of course, is the bottom line where advertising is concerned. It’s likely that Dove is not interested in becoming an icon of the women’s movement. That would just be a welcome side effect. What the company is interested in – and what other companies and advertising agencies will be watching closely – is selling lots of firming lotion. If that happens, we’ll be seeing a lot more real women in the media and on the runways.

And that would be a welcome, healthy and beautiful thing.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or at