THE TRUTH ABOUT FEMVERTISING
BY MARIA COELHO
BY MARIA COELHO
There have always been issues in all phases of feminism, so it’s no wonder that its fourth phase suffers the same. During a time when everything is so connected with media and technology, it’s only natural that the fourth phase of feminism finds its problems in the media. Even though feminists have never asked for this, since it’s not highly important, brands are using feminism to advertise their products. That is known as ‘femvertising’.
Although it might sound a great opportunity to spread the message of equality, these brands, in reality, aren’t doing anything relevant for the cause.
In a very competitive and growing market, it’s hard to create new and refreshing commercials and campaigns that will generate good profits. That is probably why so many brands are focusing themselves on what is relevant to our society. In a time where feminism is strongly developing and each day given more importance, it is understandable that these brands saw their perfect opportunity in using the movement to promote their products.
Dove is well-known for its focus in feminist campaigns, mostly its ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. The main goal of ‘Real Beauty’ was to increase the number of women that felt beautiful by showing them that every person is, in fact, beautiful. The campaign, which was separated into four parts, backfired.
Dove used, during the billboard part of the campaign, curvy models dressed in white underwear to show that, even though those women don’t follow the ‘standard beauty’ created by our society, they’re still perfect and happy exactly like they are. However, the comments and opinions, mostly by men, over those billboards were negative. Jennifer Pozner revealed in an article that a Chicago CBS newscaster even affirmed that is not ‘okay’ for women or men to think that being out of shape is alright. Despite the fact that the campaign was aimed at women and their self-esteem, they could understand that society and, mostly, men didn’t accept that as ‘beautiful’ or ‘sexy’, besides, thin models were never represented in these campaigns which lead to a lack of representation of all body shapes.
Additionally, Dove committed a big mistake when separated these advertisements into categories such as ‘Ageless Beauty’ and ‘Girls Only’. The goal of feminism is to equalise everyone, no matter gender, skin colour or even age, therefore, the commercials should have never been separated since it breaks the main goal of representing beauty as a whole and acceptance of all female shapes.
Worse of it all, it was when Dove released a racially insensitive ad, where a black woman becomes a white woman after removing her shirt. Social media went ballistic over this since it reminded them of the 19th-century ads where black people used to scrub their skin with soap to be white. Dove has apologised for it but the fact that a brand that stands for ‘Real Beauty’ and acceptance of everyone would even release something like that makes you wonder if their goal was truly to make everyone feel beautiful.
But it’s not only Dove using this, a diversity of brands are using it. Relating now to a much more feminine problem than body wash, Always followed the same steps of numerous brands and created the #LikeAGirl campaign to show how society stereotypes grow in us while we become adults.
Society stereotypes are the biggest enemy of feminism since women are usually portrayed as weak and vulnerable and men as strong and dominating. So Always found the perfect ‘enemy’ of women and used it to promote their brand.
Now the commercial was absolutely perfect and did the work of spreading the message. Firstly with the adult women showing that being ‘like a girl’, to them, represented something negative and delicate and then the children showing that being ‘like a girl’ was something powerful and, most definitely, positive.
The importance of this campaign for feminism was massive because it represented that the problem is not only on how men perceive women but also in how women perceive themselves and how they let society stereotypes control their vision of themselves.
However, the goal of the commercial wasn’t to break the difference between genders, it was a way of selling their product and it worked. Always was losing its relevance to women between 16-24 year old but after this campaign, the profits of the company grew more than 50% of their target. Even though 70 % women and 60% men affirmed that the video changed ‘their perception of the phrase “like a girl”’ and Always received an award from UN due to its impact in female empowerment, in reality, it didn’t change a lot in our society.
These small campaigns and commercials only serve to feed our society with little hope for a better world while companies make money out of it but do nothing to change it. None of these campaigns donated any money to feminist societies that fight every day to actually change something of importance.
What these brands lack to understand is that women don’t need a brand creating new bottles to represent their body size, be in billboards or even a brand telling them that being ‘like a girl’ is good, women wouldn’t need this if they’re seen as equal to men in all aspects. The issue of these campaigns is that they stress that difference and use it to make profits, in any of these campaigns a woman was seen as an equal.
Our society is too focused on the little aspects of life to actually understand this. Women, desperate to feel accepted and fight for a good cause, fall into these traps thinking they’re doing something positive, while in reality, they’re just helping these brands and not themselves.
Feminism is more than feeling beautiful or acting ‘like a girl’, feminism is relevant because, in 2017, there is still a 9.1% gender pay gap, only 32% of the MPs are women, not to mention the lack of representation of women as director, producers or even cinematographers in Hollywood, it’s only 28%, even less than the number of MPs. This is what feminism is trying to end, the huge difference between genders that is not easily understandable. Unfortunately, I can’t wash inequality with Dove’s body wash and I can’t end the gap between genders by buying pads, instead of doing campaigns like that, Always could work in ending the ‘tampon tax’, that would be an improvement for feminism.