Moving music swells and climaxes as a series of images championing female empowerment dance across the screen: the clips show a woman experiencing a rare moment of pure body acceptance or a scene demonstrating the sexist stereotypes of gendered language.
It’s feminism neatly packaged into an infinitely shareable two-minute clip, the friendly kind of feminism that people who don’t consider themselves the F-word feel safe posting to their Facebook walls.
Dove has built an empire on it, and Pantene is getting in on the game now too: it’s marketing masquerading as feminism, and I’m kinda getting sick of it.
One could argue that messages of gender equality are important enough that it doesn’t matter if they precede ad copy for a shampoo company. But that line of thinking conveniently misses the point, particularly when it’s beauty companies who are using feminism to sell products.
Brands like Dove and Pantene have made millions by preying on women’s insecurities and convincing them they need to buy products to meet societal standards of beauty: sure, you’re beautiful just the way you are, but use our products and you can be even more beautiful.
Ads like this also reinforce the stereotype that attractiveness is the core component to determining a woman’s worth. As Katie J.M. Baker wrote in a post on Jezebel called “Here’s Why Real Beauty Advertisements are Garbage:”
“Real Beauty” features and advertisements cleverly sell you products under the guise of body-positivity while actually reinforcing the idea that a woman’s worth is based on the way she looks to others.
While on the surface videos like Pantene’s “Labels Against Women” show beauty brands bucking traditional standards by embracing body positivity instead of ignoring it, it’s still important to recognize these videos for what they truly are: a clever way for the same old companies to make money off of women. And there’s nothing less feminist than that.