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Dove’s “Reverse Selfie” Takes Aim at Destructive Social Media

Remember going to grocery stores as a teen and seeing gorgeous women on the covers of the glossy magazines that lined the checkout area? Now kids, tweens, and teens can see that anytime through a constant barrage of social media. And what does that do to their self-esteem? Sure, those magazine covers and celebrity selfies are all airbrushed and photoshopped to the max but that doesn’t matter. These images set a completely unattainable ideal for almost any woman.

Dove has been a pioneer in using regular women in their advertising and marketing, so it’s no surprise they delivered the “Reverse Selfie” ad, which features a young girl about to post an overly doctored image of herself. The ad reverses all the changes she made to herself to fit the societal ideal of what a beautiful girl should look like – and it looks nothing like girl without all those edits.

Making beauty a source of confidence

The ad is heartbreaking because it’s so, so easy to see this happening everywhere we look. Girls (and boys) shouldn’t have to live up to unattainable beauty standards when they are beautiful just the way they are.

Dove reports that by age 13, 80% of girls will have distorted the way they look online in some fashion. Eighty percent. These are little girls. Dove states that their goal is the “make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety.”

“We wanted to create impact by firstly showing the outcome,” said Juliana Paracencio, global creative director at Ogilvy UK, to “This ‘perfect selfie’ is how young girls want to look. She details how from beginning to end, every single part of the process was about authenticity and says the image shown was retouched by themselves.”

The search to find the girl to star in the ad was grueling, as the agency interviewed several girls about their own personal experiences and how they felt when seeing unattainable beauty standards. Grace, the girl in the ad, was the perfect fit. The ad agency said that, “Grace was cast specifically because she’d had very real experiences about losing confidence. It was a very emotional performance from her which was close to the experience she went through.”

The Self-Esteem Project

“Reverse Selfie” is part of the on-going Self-Esteem Project, which started in 2004 to help foster in young girls a healthy self-image.

Comments on the “Reverse Selfie” video were truly eye-opening and some were quite sad:

“This made me cry. I’m 19 years old and I wish so badly I hadn’t grown up with social media. It ruined my self esteem and I became so good at editing pictures and doing makeup and loosing weight. as women we are diminished to our appearance and only our appearance. I wish I could go back and time and take my phone away.”

“As a photographer I know more than most the false beauty that people perceive through social media. I have worked with model that talk about their depression, suicidal thoughts and the belief they are not good enough I can only imagine how that is amplified to young people in everyday life. We need to see more of this. Powerful.”

“As a mother of a 12 year old, who looks very much like this girl, I cried. The pressure on young girls to look a certain way is so scary and unrealistic. Amazing add, very powerful.”

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