The cellulite monologues

Dove takes its "Real Beauty" campaign to the stage.

By Catherine Price
May 8, 2008 10:40PM (UTC)
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Remember Dove's Real Beauty campaign? You know, the one where it picked non-anorexic-looking models, started the Dove "self-esteem fund" and made a bunch of commercials highlighting some of the ways the beauty industry makes people feel shitty about themselves? (As Rebecca Traister points out, it's a little weird to have this message coming from a company that sells beauty products, but still.)

Well, Dove is at it again -- but this time, it's taking the campaign to the stage. According to the Financial Post, Dove held a contest encouraging women over 45 to write letters to their bodies. The 13 winning letters were adapted into a script by playwright and director Judith Thompson, and their authors were invited to participate in a theatrical performance -- a combination of music, dance and spoken word called "Body & Soul" and debuting May 10 in Toronto.


Does Thompson feel weird about writing a show as part of an ad campaign? Nope. "Everyone from Shakespeare to [Toronto theater company] Soulpepper is sponsored by a corporation," she told the Post. "It was understood from the beginning that there would be no advertising or mentions of Dove -- never. [Unilever marketing executives] knew what they were getting when they asked me." (Dove products will be handed out during some performances and there will be ads for Dove's Pro-Age line in the show's programs, but other than that, it's ad-free.)

As for the show itself, I know what you're thinking: This could be bad. Check out the first sentence from the article: "A gamine woman clad in theatrical black nods her curly head of silver hair and widens her eyes, chanting breathily, as 12 other women behind her break into a slow-motion song-and-dance number." I saw similar performances in college -- and they left me with a permanent distrust of anyone wearing a black unitard.

But I have to say -- unitard-phobia aside, I actually really do like Dove's campaign. Sure, it's weird to have an anti-beauty industry message coming from a company that's trying to sell beauty products. But you know what? Most companies are trying to get me to buy their crap by making me feel bad about myself. Considering the fact that I'm going to purchase face soap from somebody, why not contribute to the profits of a company that makes me feel good?

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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