Those who have seen the “Dove Evolution” video on YouTube understand the ways in which models’ bodies are edited on the digital screen. For the people who are not familiar, the video is of a young woman, who by no means looks like a “supermodel.” Although the transformation is fast-forwarded, in reality it takes hours. Even after the photo is taken, it is still not up to standards. The photo is airbrushed and retouched and the woman’s features are further manipulated through various digital editing programs. One doctor actually commented on the photo saying that it is physically impossible to have a neck as long and as thin as the one that was computer-generated in the picture of the model. Essentially the woman who walked into the studio was by no means the same woman presented in the final photo.
If the manipulated photographs of these models are plaguing women and men’s visual lives everyday, what messages does that send to both genders about what it means to be beautiful? Stacy Nadeau, one of the models in Dove’s 2005 Campaign for Real Beauty, came to speak on this very issue in Golden Auditorium last Thursday. The event was created and coordinated by Project Beauty and the Women’s Studies Department. Nadeau, before she got involved in the campaign, described herself as a typical college student with no modeling experience and without the impossibly thin figure traditionally expected of a model. Nadeau, along with the five other Dove models in the campaign, were real women with real curves. They were all different shapes, sizes and colors. Most of the women, like Nadeau, actually grew up having serious insecurities about certain parts of their bodies. But in this campaign, what they were once insecure about is what they showed off proudly to the country, wearing only white underwear. Photos of these women were displayed in magazines and on billboards, and they were not airbrushed
The ultimate goal of the Dove Campaign was “to make more women feel beautiful everyday by widening today’s stereotypical view of beauty and by inspiring women to take great care of themselves,” Nadeau said.
In one survey Nadeau took, only two percent of women were comfortable enough to say that they believed that they were beautiful. The Dove Campaign was created in order to challenge this belief and give the women the confidence to embrace their beauty.
“Your own best healthy self is just that: yours,” Nadeau said to the audience.
Nadeau stressed the importance of celebrating one’s own body rather than constantly comparing it with others. We are all inherently different, so it is ridiculous that we should all strive for one ideal version of beauty. It is also important to not feel guilty if you only make it to the gym once or twice a week or if you indulge in your favorite dessert. She emphasized the importance of figuring out what it means to be healthy for you rather than for the person next to you.
“I am here to burst your bubble. You cannot walk around this campus airbrushed,” Nadeau said when she was wrapping up her presentation.
The reality is that it is impossible for both women and men to look like models. There is simply not enough time in the day to sit for hours while putting on makeup or styling hair. The Colgate community has the power to take Nadeau’s advice and embrace real beauty. Leaving body talk out of conversations, stopping from obsessing over whether or not you made it to the gym, and resisting from judging others by the way that they look. Manipulation is not beauty; individual beauty comes from embracing our best healthy self.