Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has been with us now for more than ten years, and they just came up with another viral video sensation. Dove: Patches has been viewed almost 10 million times this week. Women were invited to participate in a research study with well-known psychologist and body image expert Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, testing a new product called the RB-X Beauty Patch, “revolutionary product developed to enhance the way women perceive their own beauty.”
Participants were asked to wear the patch directly on the skin of the upper arm 12 hours a day for 14 days and record a video diary about how they felt throughout the study. None of them noticed much of a difference at first but over the research period they noted dramatic improvement in self-confidence, social interactions and willingness to try new things.
“It’s been a life altering experience,” one participant said. “I’d love for people to have the type of change I’ve had by trying the beauty patch.”
After the study was complete, the women met with Dr. Kearney-Cooke again, and learned that the patch was actually a placebo, and that the improvement they’d noted was related to their own state of mind.
“I’m beautiful, I’m strong, and I’m independent… I can just be whoever I want to,” one woman said after discovering the patch had no active ingredient.
“Knowing that I don’t need something to make me feel that way—that it’s just who I am and it was hidden and now it’s not anymore,” said another woman, “that’s very empowering.”
“We have heard from thousands of women about how their complicated relationship with beauty affects their overall confidence and happiness,” said Jennifer Bremner, brand expert for Dove. “By illustrating through the Dove: Patches film that a positive state of mind and openness can help them feel more beautiful, we hope to inspire all women and help change the way they see themselves.”
This follows the award-winning Dove: Sketches video, in which portraits were drawn by a forensic artist based on a woman’s self-description of her looks, then compared to a sketch based on a more positive description provided by a friend.
Though the videos are popular, they meet with mixed reviews, with accusations of manipulation rather than empowerment. Regardless of whether you enjoy the messaging behind the ads, they’ve served to spark conversation and highlight our difficult relationship with our looks, and how hard it is to recognize our own beauty.
Studies show that even women at the pinnacle of success harbor fears about their beauty and body image. Many of us feel conflicted about our aging faces and bodies, and the beauty choices we make because of these feelings. I got to speak with a marvelous group of diverse women at a recent PEO meeting, and we talked about the messages of the “War on Aging” versus “Aging Gracefully.” In my mind, we all want to look and feel our best so that we have more to give. Our go-to dress, the organic food, a favorite lipstick, an early morning Zumba class or luxurious moisturizer might be our own personal beauty patch. The positive choices we make affirm that owning our beauty is part of the journey to our best selves.
Actress Salma Hayek said, “People say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I say that YOU are the beholder.” I’ll add that you are a sight to see, and something very worthy to behold.