Earlier this month Dove released a video titled “Patches” as part of their campaign for “Real Beauty,” which has been the recipient of much criticism from feminist circles.
The video is posted above but to quickly recap, 8 different women with low self-esteem meet with “Psychologist & Body Image Expert” Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke to test a product called the RB-X patch which was “developed to enhance the way women perceive their own beauty.” The catch? Well, the patch was all a hoax and it is later revealed that there are no actual chemicals in the product, effectively meaning that Dove’s new advertising campaign is advertising…nothing.
After initially consulting with the 8 women, Dr. Kearney-Cooke instructs them to keep a video diary of their journey with the RB-X patch. On the first day of use, most women said they felt no difference wearing the patch but after a few days they admitted to maybe being a little more confident, but were not yet willing to attribute these feelings to the patch. However, by the end of the two week trial all of the women seemed to have gained confidence all because of the RB-X patch.
When the women returned back to specialist’s office, they sang the praises of the patch and even said they would pay money to wear it in the future. At this point Dr. Kearney-Cooke reveals what the participants apparently had no idea about beforehand which is that they had been tricked into thinking the patch would cure their insecurities. Most women reacted with joy to learn the increase in their confidence had all come from within themselves; some were even brought to tears and one participant confessed “I wanted it to be about me, not a patch.”
This video made me angry when I first watched it because I felt that Dove was exploiting the insecurities of women who were genuinely searching for a way to feel better about themselves (regardless of whether these women are actors). It also made me sad to see the extremes women are willing through by using external means to address issues that can only be dealt with internally. But mostly I was offended by the practical joke nature of the video, and the joyful responses women gave to being tricked. Personally, had I been in the same position as these women I would’ve felt outraged and betrayed rather than empowered by a placebo patch. The video makes me wonder what exactly is the point Dove wants to make, particularly because they aren’t advertising an actual product since the RB-X patch is a hoax.
What did you all think of the ad? What do you see as the message that Dove is trying to send to women? Did you think it was empowering or offensive?