Over the weekend, I stumbled upon an op/ed entitled “I feel sorry for Kim Kardashian” which discussed how the celebrity was body shamed on social media for her pregnancy-bod. The author herself was body shamed for posting a full length photo where she was wearing a flowy top to cover up her own baby bump. As someone who has struggled with body image over the years, the article resonated deeply with me. I’ve spent countless hours fawning over instagram celebs and comparing my physique to their seemingly unattainable #fitspo posts. Entire industries have been built on helping women nip, tuck, and hide their flaws in order to make them feel “prettier” in the skin that they’re in. And, the problem is only getting worse each time we log onto social media.
A study published in PsychGuides mapped the usage of instagram posts containing #thinspo and #fitspo posts to see whether the prevalence of these hashtags was concentrated in specific areas:
While both hashtags have negative and positive connotations associated with them. It’s interesting to see Kentucky, which has one of the highest levels of obesity in our country, uses #thinspo most frequently; whereas California is a leader in the #fitspo movement and has one of the lowest levels of obesity in the country. Sunny skies and beaches might have something to do with it, and I’d be interested in exploring the data further… but one thing is for sure: the body image conversation isn’t going away… so what can we do about it?
You may remember Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign where regular women were dropped into their advertisements in place of the stick-thin models we are used to seeing. Well, the campaign is now 11 years old, and it’s one of the most successful marketing campaigns the company has seen to date. Dove continues to change the conversation with the Dove Self-Esteem Project by producing shareable content and valuable resources aimed at helping women improve their self image. Good for society and the brand? Win/win.
Dove reports that “since launching the Dove Self-Esteem Project more than 10 years ago, 17 million young people in 112 countries have benefited from our programs. More than 625,000 teachers have delivered a Dove Self-Esteem Project workshop, and more than 1.5 million parents have benefitted from our online tools. No other organization is acting on the same scale or with the same impact.” The campaign, which has no call-to-action outside of “love the skin you’re in,” has improved brand loyalty for Dove, which positively impacts sales.
Earlier this year, the company teamed up with Twitter to create the #SpeakBeautiful campaign in order to change the way we talk about beauty online:
The campaign, which debuted during this year’s Oscars, involves using Twitter technology that allows Dove to reply in real-time to users posting negative Tweets about themselves. The campaign has obviously been met with criticism (many called it an effort to humanize Unilever, who also owns the Axe brand, which has gotten some heat for their exploitation of women) but, overall, the campaign was successful at creating a buzz for the brand by generating over 51,000 tweets containing #SpeakBeautiful and 46,000 replies to @Dove on the night of the Oscars alone.
It’ll be interesting to watch the Dove campaign continue to grow and see how the brand can move the needle when it comes to female empowerment and body image. The next generation of women are growing up in a world where they are being trolled for not being “enough.” It’s more important than ever to have conversations about what real beauty looks like, both inside and out.