My friend Lauren had told me about a controversial casting call that Dove, the skin and hair care company, had posted late last month. I wasn’t happy about it at all, because I have been a proud and passionate supporter of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty since the beginning, as it paralleled with my views so well. Dove has denied that the casting call was valid, but I’m still a little skeptical. There have also been a few reports that Dove does airbrush some of its Campaign for Real Beauty models, which really lessens the credibility of the campaign’s message. I do believe wholeheartedly in the goals of the campaign and I hope with all my heart that these allegations aren’t true. I’ve put together a few articles on this subject – I’d love to hear what you think about this! *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      * Dove Campaign for Real BeautyDove’s Campaign for Real Beauty kicked off in 2004, aiming to increase female self confidence by using “real” women all ages, sizes and backgrounds as models in product ads while funding positive self-esteem organizations like the Girl Scouts and Girls, Inc. If the above image doesn’t spark your memory, their short film, “Evolution,” certainly will (you need to watch this! I love this video!). This 2006 video showcased the disturbingly long process it takes to bring a model’s face from barefaced to advertisement-worthy, and, 11 million Youtube views later, has begotten an online Photoshop police force with blogging lieutenants like Jezebel, The Cut and Photoshop Disasters regularly busting style stalwarts like Ann Taylor, Nordstrom and Ralph Lauren at the airbrushing game. And now, the saga has come full circle: Dove’s most recent iteration of the “Real Beauty” campaign has put them in hot water with these same websites. The beauty giant put out a casting call on Craigslist on June 25, soliciting a new crop of real women models. Although the ad has since been taken down (see the full screenshot, below), it stated, “Beautiful arms and legs and face will be shown! Must have flawless skin, no tattoos or scars! Well groomed and clean…nice bodies…naturally fit, not too curvy, not too athletic. Beautiful hair and skin is a must!” While the ad did also state, “Absolutely no actresses/models or reality show participants or anyone carrying a headshot! Real women only!” Jezebel editors were not convinced. “Its definition of ‘real women’ (a loathsome term if ever there was one) is fairly narrow and does, in fact, adhere to typical beauty standards. The emphasis on being ‘real’ but also being totally flawless is somewhat hilarious and tragic, in that the entire point of the Dove campaign is to challenge the definition of the word ‘beauty,'” the Jezebel writer “Hortense” penned on the pop culture website. But a spokesperson for Dove tells StyleList that the Craigslist posting was an unplanned gaffe, and isn’t indicative of their overall campaign message. Here is a screenshot of the casting call: Dove Craigslist Ad There’s a big story from May in the New Yorker about renowned photo retoucher Pascal Dangin (who works with every fancy person in fashion magazines you’ve ever heard of). In it, Dangin talks about softening lines, “re-doing” asses, adding hair to men’s chests and on and on. It’s fascinating and terrifying. But it’s the world we live in now, nothing is real anymore. Something surprising happens in the interview. The writer brings up the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which is a project that Dangin worked on.  According to him, they weren’t so real after all. Here’s what he had to say: “The people who complain about retouching are the first to say, ‘Get this thing off my arm.’ The interviewer mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual “real women” in their undergarments. It turned out that it was one of Dangin jobs. “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” he asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.” What happened next is Dove sent out a very serious denial statement, claiming that nothing like this ever happened, there was no re-touching of any kind and Dangin is more of a “printer” than a retoucher and that the only action taken on these photographs was “removal of dust from the film and minor color correction.” In the statement, Dangin also retracted his original quotes. Here is Dove’s denial statement: Dove’s mission is to make more women feel beautiful every day by widening the definition of beauty and inspiring them to take great care of themselves. Dove strives to portray women by accurately depicting their shape, size, skin color and age. The “real women” ad referenced in recent media coverage was created and produced entirely by Ogilvy, the Dove brand’s advertising agency, from start to finish and the women’s bodies were not digitally altered. Pascal Dangin worked with photographer Annie Leibovitz (Ogilvy has never employed Mr. Dangin on the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty), who did the photography for the launch of the Dove ProAge campaign, a new campaign within the Campaign for Real Beauty. There was an understanding between Dove and Ms. Leibovitz that the photos would not be retouched – the only actions taken were the removal of dust from the film and minor color correction. “Let’s be perfectly clear – Pascal does all kinds of work – but he is primarily a printer – and only does retouching when asked to. The idea for Dove was very clear at the beginning. There was to be NO retouching and there was not,” confirmed Annie Leibovitz, commenting on the ProAgecampaign. Mr. Dangin responded, “The recent article published by The New Yorker incorrectly implies that I retouched the images in connection with the Dove “real women” ad. I only worked on the Dove ProAge campaign taken by Annie Leibovitz and was directed only to remove dust and do color correction – both the integrity of the photographs and the women’s natural beauty were maintained.” Do you believe Dove? Why would the retoucher make this up? I guess the more important question here is: Does a little airbrushing matter in a situation like this? Does it change the ads’ meaning for you if the women were enhanced and retouched? For me, the lack of complete honesty  and follow-though ruins the ads – but what about you? Articles taken from Stylist, Yahoo! Shine and Nadine Jolie