Real Beauty Speaker Stacy Nadeau opened her presentation on Friday, March 21 with a warning that she would be completely open and honest with the audience for the entirety of her allotted hour and a half. Nadeau followed through as she discussed her own body insecurities, as well as eye-opening topics that hit home for many in the audience.
According to Nadeau, who was a member of the six women featured in Dove’s original Real Beauty Campaign, the 2005 campaign was the first of its kind. The idea stemmed from a Dove poll that found that 98 percent of women didn’t feel comfortable calling themselves beautiful. The original campaign featured six women of various shapes, sizes, and colors, all in their twenties, posing in just their underwear.
The campaign has since expanded to include multi-generational magazine advertisements, as well as video advertisements, such as the Dove Evolution video and the recent Dove Real Beauty Sketches.
The Dove Evolution video adds to the campaign by showing the transformation a photo undergoes before it is published in a magazine. The Dove Real Beauty Sketches videos show the difference between how a person describes their physical selves and how a person that they were recently introduced to describes them.
First-Year Kristin Podratz, who attended the event, said that it was the Real Beauty Sketches that drew her there.
“I just thought it was really interesting, and I had seen a lot of the Dove commercials, and I think I knew about the ad, but I knew more about the comparison sketches and I wanted to see what was behind them,” Podratz said.
Nadeau also highlighted the fact that negative mindset is not only socially acceptable, but often socially encouraged. Outlining what she referred to as “Girlfriend Poker,” Nadeau questioned the need for today’s women to “one up” each other with what they dislike about their physical appearance.
“We started bonding over our bodies, and what we hate about them. We have so much more to offer. It’s time to change the conversation,” Nadeau said.
First-Year Rachel Hain also appreciated Nadeau’s “anti- fat talk” ideas.
“I really liked how she talked about embracing your body as it is now and discouraging those kind of backhanded compliments like, ‘Did you lose weight?‘ and ‘You look great.’ It is definitely important to be more aware of what you say to other people and what you say to yourself,” Hain said.
Nadeau also touched on what she called “the negative checklist,” or the mental list of flaws that individuals often keep.
“You would never walk up to a friend and say the things that we say to ourselves. These things have been ingrained for so long that we don’t even know where we learned them from,” Nadeau said.
Nadeau highlighted the way that media influences how individuals view themselves. The Dove Real Beauty Campaign was the only positive media act out there until recently, when , the American Eagle Outfitter’s brand Aerie, joined suit by refusing to airbrush/retouch their models.
Nadeau shared an anecdote about a girl struggling with anorexia, who was encouraged by these ads. In fact, the walls of the hospital that the young woman was staying were eventually wallpapered with the ads. Nadeau described the realization that the campaign was having real effects on real people as the turning point. From that moment on, the six women of the campaign came together to change the media.
“We cannot change the media overnight – I know this, but you put [women] in the same room, behind the same cause, and you better watch out,” Nadeau said.
Junior Anna Wiltse was inspired by Nadeau’s call for change.
“My biggest takeaway is that as a consumer, and as an individual, especially at this age, we have a lot of power in the community, and with media in general. This campaign was possible and is still happening because consumers bought into it and are supporting it. And in that way, we have buying power that actually does drive the economy and does drive merchandise. It might be a slow change, but we can never stop thinking that we have that power,” Wiltse said.
Near the end of the presentation, Nadeau left the audience with a simple, yet impactful statement.
“You all have way more to offer than your pants size or how many hours you clock at the gym or how much you can bench press,” Nadeau said.