New York Times: For Everyday Products, Ads Using the Everyday Woman


New York Times
Published: August 17, 2005

Madison Avenue is increasingly interested in using everyday women in advertising instead of just waifish supermodels.

Real Women in Advertising

The change comes after the Dove line of personal-care products sold by Unilever introduced what it called a “campaign for real beauty,” which presents women in advertisements as they are rather than as some believe they ought to be.

Dove’s “campaign for real beauty,” seen on a billboard on Broadway, uses six women of various sizes who are not professional models.

If the fad becomes a trend and shows legs, so to speak, it has the potential to fundamentally change decades of image-making on Madison Avenue. But that is a big if indeed. There have been many previous instances of ads that showed so-called real women in place of professional models, which receded as the allure of glamour again reared its beautiful head.

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  1. says

    I find ads like this insulting. There shouldn’t be some stereotyped “real” woman. Any woman born with a ###### is “real,” the end. Models ARE real—there are people out there who NATURALLY look like that. I myself am 5’9”, 117 lbs, with 36 c breasts—does that make me fake? I’ve never exercised regularly, never had any plastic surgery or the like, I barely wear makeup and I sure as hell don’t eat healthy, but apparently I’m NOT a REAL WOMAN. I’m fake! OF COURSE…My 5’6” friend with the incredibly muscular body is also fake because she’s not “curvy”…Apparently, only fat women are REAL. Real women have curves my ###. I don’t care what size any part of your body is—you are a REAL woman no matter what! I’m sorry for all the women out there who don’t look like “supermodels” and who feel insecure, unhappy, or like they don’t add up after seeing all these ads and magazine spreads, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to heighten their self esteem by claiming that models are “fake” and only curvy women are real. Women come in all different shapes and sizes—you shouldn’t need a magazine ad to make you feel better about yourself. Does everybody remember that saying, “They’re only making fun of you to make themselves feel better,” or “They make fun of you because they’re jealous?” That’s what these ads do. Yes, it sucks that the “ideal” body has been transformed into this waifish model, but you just have to deal with it. How do you think tiny girls with boyish bodies felt seeing ads with women like Marilyn Monroe everywhere? They had to deal with it and so does everybody else now. You don’t see any ads with Gisele Bundchen that say “real woman” do you? Yeah right—at least they’re not claiming that. You may see them everywhere, but at least they’re not claiming to be the only true “real women.” Next we’ll see ads with short skinny guys and the words “Real Men” plastered across them because “real men” don’t have rippling biceps and six packs—real men are waifs, right? Sure…If there’s going to be an ad for the “Everyday Woman” it better have a curvy woman, a muscular woman, and an f*ing waif. I’m sick and tired of all these people claiming that nobody’s THAT idealistically beautiful. SOMEBODY is and if you’re not, deal with it. She’s just as real as you are.

  2. Harlie says

    This is for Cristiana, you use the term fat very loosely. There is not reason for you to be negative to about the way they feel either. i’m not saying i am heavy, i am not saying i am thin. But you need to let all this go.Society as a whole likes a thinner woman. These ads are trying to bring in the part of society that is not the Victoria Secret model shape. Even when Marilyn Monroe was in ads everywhere, she was in something that made her look like she had a flat tummy, and that she was toned. Every woman has her trouble areas. It is also contradictory that you claim heavier girls should have to “deal” with the ads and everything posted on these billboards. Go inside of a department store, and see the types of clothes that are in there. The materials are clingy, or show too much skin. Ads like this are one in a pile of many. So maybe YOU should just deal with it. Because “curvier” ladies have to deal with it more than you do.

  3. Cristiana says

    I don’t care what type of woman is in any ad…My problem is what the distinct message is. So even though “curvier/heavier/etc” women have to deal with seeing more ads of thin girls and finding more tiny clothes than necessary, these ads aren’t claiming that this is the “real” woman. If it were a clothing ad, fine. More power to these women for putting themselves out there and trying to overcome this bullshit “ideal” of the perfect woman—but they don’t need to essentially insult other types of women with that slogan. “Real women” do not fit into one specific body type and that’s why I have a problem with this ad.

  4. Lindsey says

    Christina, i think your reading this ad wrong. All dove is trying to do is promote all types of beauty, they aren’t saying curvier women are they only “real ones”, there just trying to put a message out that you don’t need too be 5″9 and a 117pounds and have a 36C to be beautiful. Because you don’t need to be (i’m lucky myself like you,but that dosen’t mean somebody should try killing themselves everyday working out 3 hours at the gym to look beautiful. Because at the moment society makes it look that you have to look like a model to be beautiful and dove is trying to change that and i think their doing i great job!!! not all of those women are tall and not all of them are taned or have big breast, they tried to pick a range of women to put out a message. they didn’t say that your only a real women if you have curves.

  5. Andrea says

    OH MY GOD. Chritiana im with you 100% what the ___ is “real women” I’m 5’8 114, and im just as real as they come. I don’t exercise and i sure as hell don’t watch what i eat. (i eat at Bojangles five times a week, plus what my mom cooks) i was skinny all my life so to just look at something like that makes me sick. I want to be a model and i heard that the gov’t over seas banning models who are under a size 8, what the ___ i wear a size 3! You can look a pictures when i was a litlle as 4 years old, im just a naturally skinny person!!

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