Dove’s Global Beauty report: Key takeaways

On 9th April (2024), I had the opportunity to attend a corporate event with an American-style flair, reminiscent of the iconic presentation style often seen during Steve Jobs’ Apple events. The event was led by Dove experts and brand ambassadors, and while I hadn’t previously tried any of Dove’s beauty products, I found the panel discussion to be quite engaging. One of the highlights of the discussion was the presence of Jesse J, a new London mum and pop-star, whose alternative views added a unique perspective to the conversation.

Dove has been at the forefront of promoting authentic beauty for the past two decades. Their Campaign for Real Beauty began with a stark realisation: only 2% of women felt beautiful. By challenging societal norms, media representations, and unrealistic beauty standards, Dove has empowered millions of young people to embrace their bodies and boost their self-esteem.

Dove real beauty campaign launch jesse j London mums magazine collage

Actually, even though I’ve never used any Dove products myself, I distinctly remember seeing their advertisements featuring real women instead of flawless models. While I haven’t been compelled to try their products, I do appreciate the original and bold approach Dove has taken in the beauty industry.

The Campaign for Real Beauty, launched twenty years ago, marked a significant shift in the beauty industry. Recognising the low percentage of women who viewed themselves as beautiful, Dove challenged prevailing norms and advocated for more inclusive representations of women. Their efforts aimed to address the harmful effects of unrealistic beauty standards, resonating with millions worldwide.

Drawing upon twenty years of experience, Dove has recently undertaken its most extensive study to date. By listening to over 33,000 individuals across 20 countries, Dove’s latest initiative represents the largest-ever study conducted by a beauty brand. Through this research, Dove seeks to gain deeper insights into the realities of beauty and the pressures faced by people worldwide.

What does the report reveal?

Women and girls from various countries shared their experiences regarding beauty. The report highlights the significant impact of body esteem on physical and mental health, career aspirations, and overall well-being. Individuals with high body esteem demonstrate greater resilience against societal pressures and display more self-compassion.

Dove real beauty campaign posters 2004 london mums magazine collage

In 2004, Dove initiated its groundbreaking journey with the first study, The Real Truth About Beauty. Coinciding with the rise of social media, Dove now presents its latest milestone: the Real State of Beauty report, representing the most extensive study conducted by a beauty brand. This report offers unique insights into how technology, particularly social media, shapes our perceptions of beauty and body image.

Dove real beauty campaign posters london mums magazine collage

Over the past two decades, technological advancements have transformed beauty standards. Virtual avatars allow individuals to customise their online personas, while cosmetic surgeries and skincare products promise dramatic transformations. However, this accessibility has also heightened awareness of beauty treatments, with many feeling pressure to conform to unrealistic standards.

Social media platforms amplify these beauty standards, fostering comparisons and insecurities amongst women and girls. Influencers project curated images, fuelling desires for physical alterations. Additionally, the emergence of generative AI presents new challenges, potentially blurring the line between reality and artificiality.

Despite these challenges, there is hope for a positive future. Generative AI holds promise in various fields, while social media platforms have facilitated diverse representations of beauty. Young people embrace flexible definitions of beauty, prioritising authenticity over conventional attractiveness.

During the panel discussion, Jesse J expressed doubts about the hype around AI, and I share her sentiment. We should have more confidence that our genuine selves and authentic behaviour on social media are enough to be likeable. Although it might be easier for someone as stunning as Jesse J to be bold in the celebrity world, it’s often more challenging for us ordinary, average-looking women to feel beautiful. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that authenticity is more appealing than the artificial perfection portrayed by AI.

Looking Ahead

While some findings may be troubling, Dove’s report underscores the importance of continued research, advocacy, and education in this field. It’s crucial to understand the specific needs of groups with lower body esteem and address contributing factors across all demographics.

Dove advocates for a multi-level approach to foster body esteem and enact meaningful change. This includes equipping individuals with resources to support body esteem at every life stage and confronting appearance-based discrimination. By prioritising inclusivity and authenticity, we can redefine beauty and empower everyone to embrace their unique selves.

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