The marketing geniuses behind Dove’s “Real Women, Real Beauty” campaign have extended their theme of making all their customers feel beautiful to their packaging designs, dropping a series of body wash bottles in various shapes meant to represent diverse body types. As you might expect, “Real Beauty Bottles” is backfiring pretty hard.
The campaign is ostensibly meant to unify and support women, so dividing customers into a handful of body types isn’t exactly going over well:
So if CVS is out of "skinny bitch" bottles am I not going to be able to get clean? Not sure how this works.
— Jodi Beggs (@jodiecongirl) May 8, 2017
The only thing redeeming the campaign is the potential it creates for some very dank social criticism in the form of—what else?—memes on Twitter. Many of them are by women who feel irritated and patronized by Dove’s over-the-top marketing efforts. Some are by dudes who spotted an opportunity for comedy and jumped on the bandwagon because, well, dudes just can’t help themselves.
This Jagermeister bottle does a nice job of capturing my particular body type pic.twitter.com/Q5HE1MQ8Ir
— Katy Bowman (@IngaBluth) May 8, 2017
thanks Dove but I already have a body wash that matches my natural curves :) pic.twitter.com/IIkKAn0LjQ
— Tim Federle (@TimFederle) May 8, 2017
"Dove gives us soap bottles that match our body types"
Calm your tits, Dove.🙄 pic.twitter.com/5jc116frMP
— NANANANANANANAT (@chicaenpatines) May 8, 2017
I think this dove body wash is more my body type. pic.twitter.com/ps0kjICFS3
— Jess auerbach (@blend_jess) May 8, 2017
This is the ideal shampoo bottle @Dove
You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like. pic.twitter.com/0J2CSVvLDa
— Jefferson Ornithopter (@TimInTheIce) May 8, 2017
— the artist (1987–2020) (@vrunt) May 8, 2017
when is dove releasing a bottle for my body type pic.twitter.com/sfPojDQ3m9
— willman (@willmanduffy) May 8, 2017
why u do this dove pic.twitter.com/9NxQWcVLGm
— darth™ (@darth) May 8, 2017
which dove bottle slash hercules cartoon muse are you!!! pic.twitter.com/FwSWzoGzuR
— Rebecca Caplan (@NotThatReba) May 8, 2017
One overarching theme of these gags is that normalizing seven body types isn’t that much better than normalizing one. What if you’re more of an Edward Scissorhands or a Mrs. Butterworth? Does Dove not want your business? Yes, these are funny jokes, but there’s truth to them: In an attempt to embrace all customers, the company has made many feel dehumanized.
Much like “real beauty comes in all shapes and sizes,” so does the criticism of Dove. Some women haven’t forgiven the company for the condescension of its previous campaigns:
Others point out that, in our fun, corporatist society, there’s basically no means of consumption that benefits women anyway, so please stop trying to co-opt feminism for capitalist gain:
— kelly (@asianbeechtree) May 8, 2017
Weird. It’s like women are individuals with a multiplicity of ideas, and not just bodies that can be divided into a set of general shapes.