The perception of women has change a lot over the year, but unfortunately there are still occasions where the media reference a woman’s appearance in a way that can diminish her accomplishments and chip away at her confidence and hold her back.
An analysis of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine covers found 64% of female athletes featured are shown in passive poses, such as glamour and sexualized shots, while the majority (61%) of men are portrayed in action-oriented imagery emphasizing their skill in their respective sport athletic forms.1 Media commentary where women are judged by looks over achievements will be increasingly prevalent in the coming weeks with the spotlight put on female athletes performing on a global stage, the effects of which could have a lasting impact. The Dove Global Beauty Confidence Report found nearly three quarters (74%) of Canadian women believe the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty most women can never achieve. Eight in 10 (81%) Canadian women wish the media did a better job of portraying women with diverse physical appearance, and of varying age, race, shape and size.
To help raise the awareness of this issue and to encourage people everywhere to take a stand and change the conversation, Dove is launching a global interactive campaign this week to call out comments in the media that can belittle a female athlete’s achievements.
A centerpiece of the campaign are animated public billboards in Toronto (Yonge – Dundas Square), New York City and Los Angeles that will broadcast select real-time commentary from media outlets in several English-speaking countries that spotlight a female athlete’s appearance over her achievements. This media commentary will be fed to the billboards by a real-time online aggregator that enables consumers to view it online and to tweet at media that belittle women.
The billboards continue the Dove #MyBeautyMySay campaign, launched in June, to inspire and empower women to stand up to judgments about the way they look and to overcome the beauty limits
Media and consumers are invited to play a part in the campaign:
- Dove is challenging Canadian media outlets to continue to tell the story of our female athletes through their achievements and not through their appearances alone to avoid appearing on the billboards over the coming weeks.
- Dove is inviting Canadians to have a say in this conversation by visiting the real-time online aggregator at Dove.ca/HaveYourSay and to tweet at media outlets who focus on a female athlete’s appearance. They can also share their own experiences online about how they were judged by their appearance vs. their accomplishments, while using #MyBeautyMySay.
“We truly believe that Canadian media overall are much more likely to focus on a female athlete’s accomplishments first and foremost, however, globally this is not the trend,” says Diane Laberge, Marketing Director at Unilever Canada. “We cannot continue to ignore this type of commentary, so we are calling out media who choose to focus on a female athlete’s appearance rather than on her athletic achievements.”
Throughout the campaign, Dove will be working with Canadian champion ice dancer Tessa Virtue and model Winnie Harlow to bring the issue to life for Canadians. Tessa is sharing her story about the judgments she has received about her looks while pursuing her skating career. Winnie is helping show how this issue extends beyond sports and can touch women in many walks of life. “Judgments on the basis of looks is clearly something most women in my industry have had to confront at some point,” says Winnie, “however it’s an issue that can touch girls and women who tackle almost any endeavor, especially when it puts them under any kind of public scrutiny.”