Real Beauty Sketches

           Have you ever thought about getting a message out to the public?  How would you do it?  The most popular answer would most likely be internet related.  The internet is at the fingertips of every individual whether they want it to be or not.  Dove Beauty Corporation took advantage of this idea and created the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  The campaign follows a digital activism approach that uses digital artivism to further support its progress as an activist movement within it’s viral video called Real Beauty Sketches.  Digital artivism is a combination of art and activism often found on a technological device such as the internet whereas digital activism is art being used for a political act or movement. This is clearly seen when analyzing the work of Judy Baca within the works of Chela Sandoval and Guisela Latorre titled Chicana/o Artivism: Judy Baca’s Digital Work with Youth of Color.


          In 2004, Dove launched a beauty commercial experimenting with five different women.  Most people thought that the main idea of this commercial was for marketing purposes that would attract woman to Dove’s products. According to Googles case study of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign; Dove started this movement based off of the finding of the study, “The real truth about beauty: A global report”.  The report stated that this idea of beauty has become impossible and unachievable.  Dove’s goal behind the real beauty sketches is to boost woman and young girl’s self-esteem.  Only 4 % of women globally would consider themselves beautiful.  Dove took action against this statistic and wanted to turn beauty into a source of confidence.  This commercial ended up having a much greater effect and purpose on beauty of women. This video is now an activist movement-featuring women of all ages and the way they see themselves and their true beauty and self esteem. The ads mission was to challenge the vision of beauty and is used by beauty editors, Hollywood and advertisers. It featured many advertising commercial videos, ad’s, and trending twitter hashtags. This video, Real Beauty Sketches, was an example of social activism, feminist movements, and digital media activism.

The Dove video was called Real Beauty Sketches. In this commercial there was a forensic artist named Gil Zamora and each woman would sit behind a curtain and explain what they thought they looked like and describe their different facial features. The artist would draw them the way they explained themselves and then drew them the way one of the other woman in this experiment described them. The woman spent time together and got to know one another on a deeper level. After they got a good look at one another, they explained to the artist how they viewed that other woman.  The difference between the sketches was outstanding. It showed and proved that women look at themselves completely different then others saw them. It also proved that many women are hard on the way they look, and need to embrace their true beauty and boost their self-esteem.


After some of the women saw the differences in the sketches, they got  very emotional. They realized how hard women judge themselves on their appearance. One woman who participated in this video stated, “ We spend a lot of time as woman analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite right and should spend more time appreciating the things we do like.” This experiment made woman appreciate the way they look and helped them boost their self-esteems. Another woman who participated said, “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty, It impacts the choices in friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”Because of how viral this video went and how activism through the Internet and social media became so popular, it helped the video get the popularity it deserved, and helped women look at themselves in a more confident way. This commercial helped women of all different ages and ethnicities. It was not only very popular in the United States, but also throughout the world. According to Business Insider, “It was uploaded in 25 different languages and has been viewed in more than 110 countries” (Stampler).


This video was immediately a hit and now has over 114 million views. Real Beauty Sketches went viral on Facebook and on other social media, by being shared by all different types of people. Business Insider states, “The video was shared 3.74 million times, which makes it the 3rd most shared video of all time” (Stampler). Today the Internet consumes people’s lives, and spreading the word through social media can reach significant amounts of people at lightening fast speed. Most individuals have social media at their fingertips, which makes social media activism very efficient. For example, when the Real Beauty Sketch video began to go viral over the internet, Dove had many responses from people through twitter. One tweet stated, “Have you seen this @Dove campaign Real Beauty Sketches- Dove brings me to tears. We are so tough on ourselves.” This tweet demonstrates how the video did not only have an impact on the women that were apart of the experiment, but it also affected those who watched it, making it more influential throughout the world.

Another woman commented, “I just want to tell you that this actually gave me some self-esteem and hope that maybe I’m not as hideous as I think I am”.  This just shows that this video truly does work in helping women gain self-esteem and to be proud and happy with their natural beauty.  They watch this video and start to see themselves in a different light.  Dove accomplished their goal of boosting self-esteem through the Dove beauty sketches video.  The campaign is a good example of a social media activist movement because it shows consumers how important it is to be critical of society’s unachievable ideals of beauty (Feminist Consumerism).


Today social media is one of the most popular ways to express activism for a certain cause. Without Facebook and Twitter this video would not have gotten the significant publicity that it did. If the video was limited to just one site, such as Youtube, the amount of views would be drastically less. When people share the Real Beauty Sketches they are taking part in an activist movement, which many people do not even realize. By clicking the “share” button on Facebook or Twitter, users increase the chances of others seeing the video, making the video more popular and spreading Dove’s idea of real beauty. One viewer states, “This is very touching! I noticed that they only used women for these sketches. Perhaps this is because women appear to struggle with their self-esteem more than men. I’m so glad Dove did this. It is an eye opener. We need to be more appreciative of our beauty and stop focusing so much on things we see as flaws.” This quote demonstrates how this video can impact one’s self-esteem and confidence.

Through activism, this video was able to affect the lives of many women and the way they view themselves. Without others sharing this video there would not be activism in this movement. The simplicity of clicking a button changed this video from a simple marketing commercial, to a popular social media activist movement among millions.  Social media is what made these moments so significant.  People could just scroll through their newsfeeds on Facebook and see the video because a friend shared it.  This video’s intention was to boost self-confidence. Watching it then sharing it was a great way to get a new outlook on real beauty, then easily sharing this outlook with your friends via the Internet.  The viewers and users of Facebook  is what made it possible for Dove to reach so many people.  The reason this movement made a difference is because people felt the need to share this video with captions such as: “This video is truly life changing please watch” on their Facebook.


The effects of this video on our female society is relevant through shares of the video, the number of views on the video, and most importantly tweets that include the ever so famous #beautyis hash tag.  For example, a tweet from  @nikhilmishra16 “after real beauty sketches, #beautyis takes the definition of beauty one step ahead.” This user is explaining how the beauty sketches video takes the idea of real beauty for women farther than its original meaning.  Taking this concept further, we would like to explain the #beautyis hash tag.  This hash tag explains how this campaign shaped itself into something bigger than just a marketing idea that happened to do well.  This campaign turned into a nation wide movement that benefits women no matter their origin. The hashtag allows women to take the video a step further and put their own stories out there.  Twitter users can promote Dove’s campaign for real beauty all from this hashtag.  They get to put their own story into the movement and almost make this movement their own.  Without the use of twitter not every women would be able to share their stories about beauty and it would be limited to the people in the videos.  The hashtag is just another example of how social media played a major role in this movements publicity.

This campaign has turned into a feminist movement seeking to speak out for women and their ability to be naturally beautiful.  Feminism is a movement aimed at establishing and defending women’s rights and equal power for both sexes.  The Dove Campaign is a perfect example of what a feminist movement is.  Just as Judy Baca did with her work with females, the Dove campaign aims to increase the confidence and acceptance of women.  Like Baca, Dove works with women to enhance their knowledge and work together.  A quote from Guisela Latorre states, “many of the young women who worked on the project recounted how the experience profoundly transformed their lives, and radically changed their political and social consciousness”(Everett, 89). This demonstrates the similarities of Judy Baca’s work and The Dove Campaign.


In class we discussed a reading written by Judy Baca and her passion about the strength of woman. She did this through digital artivisim. Baca started a movement that empowered woman and gave confidence in their work. In this movement she brought together all different types of woman and they were able to express their differences through art. The Dove, Real Beauty Sketches, is a form of digital artivisim. It uses online video to promote the real beauty campaign which is a component of digital artivisim. The video is creating a change for women with its main goal of improving how women see themselves.  Dove took this digital by putting art of the women online and using it to spread self-confidence in women.

Judy created a space for women to go and contribute a piece of their personal life and turned into something that everybody could relate to. This is known as the Great Wall of Los Angeles. This connects to the Dove Real Sketches video in more than one way.  Dove works hard just as Baca did to give women their place of comfort within digital literacy and media. A lot of times women have lack of confidence and both of these movements gave them the opportunity to feel better about themselves.

Activism is a grassroots approach to creating change for social justice that improves people’s lives. Grassroots activism is a group of people with the same mentality, usually with an opinion that goes against the grain or against what the major political powers has to say. They are not controlled by any political party. This kind of activism is considered the lowest form of activism in regards to the amount of power the group has. They are on the bottom of the “political pyramid”(Feminist Consumerism). Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign is an example of grassroots activism. Dove is speaking out for women and advocating for women to accept their true beauty. This is not controlled by a political party, yet controlled by a group of people who believe in the same thing and want to get the word out about this campaign. Dove does this by their ads, videos on YouTube and Facebook, and their trending hashtags on Twitter.



The internet is at the fingertips of every individual whether they want it to be or not.  Dove Beauty Corporation took advantage of this idea and created the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  As stated before, the campaign follows a digital activism approach that uses digital artivism to further support its progress as an activist movemen; within it’s viral video called Real Beauty Sketches.   After analyzing Baca’s digital work with the youth of color, we have found her work is very similar to the work of the dove beauty sketches video.  Baca targeted women just as the video did, to empower them within the digital aspect of artivism. The results of the video going viral can be seen through tweets, video shares, and comments that created an uproar of women realizing their natural beauty. Dove is a company dedicated to the hygiene of women. They first used the the commercials and ads for “Real Beauty” to market their products. This quickly turned into so much more through digital activism. From the shares of the videos on Facebook to the trending hashtags on Twitter, this campaign became a huge activist movement that is still very influential today on women and how they now view beauty.




Business Insider, Inc, 22 May 2013. Web. 5 May 2014.

“Dove (@Dove) on Twitter.” Dove (@Dove) on Twitter. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014.

Everett, Anna. Learning race and ethnicity: youth and digital media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2008. Print.

Stampler, Laura. “How Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ Became The Most Viral Video Ad Of All Time.” Business Insider.

“The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.” The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May. 2014.



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