Dove's body positive bottles

In their latest marketing venture, Dove UK redesigned the shape of their “iconic bottle” into seven differently shaped moulds to sell body wash – er, sorry – to “reaffirm their commitment to body confidence”.

“Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes,” reads the video, before going on to show a factory creating seven differently shaped bottles that we can only presume are meant to represent the diversity in body shapes.

My first thought when I heard about this campaign was that it was a joke. Dove’s highly successful advertising campaign, called the Real Beauty campaign, advocates heavily for body positivity and body confidence and has been an ongoing project since 2004. Its famous ‘You’re More Beautiful Than You Think‘ video of a a forensic artist drawing women’s faces as they described them to be, versus other people’s descriptions of them, is the highest watched ad video on Youtube.

Dove’s bottles co-opt the body positive movement in a ridiculousLY trite perversion of it.

But manufacturing bottles to look like “diverse” body types in a bid for body positivity? Really? This is reminiscent of fashion magazines’ awful, sexist, fruit-inspired terminology like ‘apples’ and ‘pears’ to “classify” body types in a bid on how best to hide your bum or boost your boobs. If you really wanted to “represent”, and not classify, then you’d need about 3 billion more bottles, each unique, to really represent the diversity of body types.

Is it just me that’s never figured out if I’m an apple or a pear?

The advertising move seems gimmicky at best and patronizing at worst. Why does body wash need to remind me that I must feel beautiful – no matter what society tells me about my butt dimples? All I really want to do is take a shower without having to ponder over the various ways in which beauty standards are unbrearably oppressing me. It’s body wash, not Spanx, or some such other ridiculously sexist product from which I needed “freeing”. Thanks, but no thanks. Please send your message of empowerment through your easy-squeeze bottles elsewhere – it’s certainly not what I’m looking for.

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Dove’s message in its campaign has been to celebrate “real beauty”, which it has been advocating for by using “real women” in its adverts, instead of supermodels and actors. If the message is for women to feel comfortable in our bodies, maybe grotesque caricatures of body types in the form of clinically white, sterile, plastic bottles isn’t the best idea? It literally turns women’s bodies (or awful approximations of them in any case) into objects – probably not the angle you’d want to go for in a “feminist campaign”.

Awkward bumps on what is meant to be a straight, no-frills, cylindrical bottle that I derive my daily soap from isn’t going to make me feel magically empowered about my not-as-awkward bumps – it’s only going to make it real easy for the bottle to slip out of my hands in the bathroom. (Are these bottles even ergonomically designed?)

maybe grotesque caricatures of body types in the form of clinically white, sterile, plastic bottles isn’t the best idea?

Body positivity is an important movement that has allowed a lot more women to feel a lot less insecure about their bodies. Positive representations of fat women, hairy women, women of colour, women without makeup, etc. in the media have had a very real impact on our psyches and our confidence. Dove’s bottles co-opt this movement in a ridiculously trite perversion of it with its “body-positive bottles”, falling in clear line with the larger trend of femvertising, where hashtag-feminism and pink logos are how corporates capitalize on the women’s movement in order to sell them things, with no deeper engagement in the matter.


So no, Dove. Your body positive bottles do not do much for “#representation”, “#fatpositivity”, “#effyourbeautystandards”. This condescending message of body positivity is something that literally no woman needed in her body wash bottles.

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