Only Two Percent of Women Describe Themselves as Beautiful

New Global Study Uncovers Desire for Broader Definition of Beauty



Sep 29, 2004, 01:00 ET from Dove and Unilever

    NEW YORK, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Dove(R) unveils a groundbreaking new
 study today that discusses the implications of a global society that narrowly
 defines beauty by the images seen in entertainment, advertising and fashion
 runways and the startling impact this has on women.  The result: only two
 percent of thousands of women from 10 countries around the world consider
 themselves beautiful.  Does this mean that we live in a world where women are
 not beautiful or does it mean that women around the world are calling for a
 broader definition of beauty?
     Dove, as a global beauty brand and responsible marketer, wants to
 investigate these issues and understand women's views on beauty.  With these
 concerns in mind, Dove partnered with Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Harvard University
 professor and author of "Survival of the Prettiest," and Dr. Susie Orbach,
 London School of Economics, visiting professor and author of "Fat is a
 Feminist Issue," to develop The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report,
 which explores the relationship women have with beauty.  Specifically, Dove's
 mission is to determine how women define beauty; their level of satisfaction
 with their own beauty; and its impact on their sense of well-being.
     "The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report makes it clear that it is
 time to lift the quota system on images of beauty," says Etcoff.  "This study
 uncovers that beauty is never going away and has enormous power.  Beauty
 should not be reduced to a political or cultural problem but understood as a
 basic human pleasure."
 
     Beauty: The Eye of the Beholder
     The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report uncovers startling
 information about how women physically perceive and define their look.
 Supporting the current and narrow definition of beauty, the respondents are
 hesitant to claim ownership of the word "beauty," with more than 40 percent
 strongly agreeing that they do not feel comfortable describing themselves as
 beautiful.
     Furthermore, only five percent feel comfortable describing themselves as
 pretty and a mere nine percent feel comfortable describing themselves as
 attractive.  Additionally, just 13 percent of women say they are very
 satisfied with their beauty; 12 percent say they are very satisfied with their
 physical attractiveness; 17 percent are very satisfied with their facial
 attractiveness; and only 13 percent are very satisfied with their body weight
 and shape.  In fact, in a society captivated by diet and makeover programs, a
 third of women around the world are very or somewhat dissatisfied with their
 body weight.  The women of Japan have the highest levels of dissatisfaction at
 59 percent -- followed by Brazil (37%), United Kingdom (36%) and the United
 States (36%), Argentina (27%) and the Netherlands (25%).
 
     Pop Culture's Beauty Mark
     Having assessed how women think about as well as evaluate their own beauty
 and appearance, the study asks women about social issues emerging from mass
 media and pop culture.  From Brazil to the Netherlands to Argentina -- across
 cultures, ages, ethnicities and race -- women make it clear they believe there
 is a one-dimensional and narrow, physical definition of beauty.  The findings
 show that the ideas of beauty and physical attractiveness are largely
 synonymous, and although both are highly valued by society, both are rendered
 almost impossible to attain.
 
     Respondents said they felt pressure to try and be that "perfect" picture
 of beauty:
 
      *  Sixty-three percent strongly agree that women today are expected to be
         more attractive than their mother's generation.
 
      *  Sixty percent strongly agree that society expects women to enhance
         their physical attractiveness.
 
      *  Forty-five percent of women feel women who are more beautiful have
         greater opportunities in life.
 
      *  More than half (59%) strongly agree that physically attractive women
         are more valued by men.
 
     The study explores the degree to which mass media has played a role in
 portraying and communicating a narrow definition of beauty:
 
      *  More than two-thirds (68%) of women strongly agree that "the media and
         advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women
         can't ever achieve."
 
      *  Well over half of all women (57%) strongly agree that "the attributes
         of female beauty have become very narrowly defined in today's world."
 
     Women around the World Unite
     The traditional definition of beauty, based only on physical appearance,
 is powerfully communicated through the mass media and has been assimilated
 through popular culture.  It is this ideal that many women measure themselves
 against and aspire to attain.  However, women around the world would like to
 see media change in the way it represents beauty.
 
     For example, women feel they are surrounded and bombarded with images that
 are unrealistic:
 
      *  The majority (76%) wish female beauty was portrayed in the media as
         being made up of more than just physical attractiveness.
 
      *  Seventy-five percent went on to say that they wish the media did a
         better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness,
         including age, shape and size.
 
     The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report uncovers that women recognize
 beauty is more than just physical -- it includes character, passion and
 presence.  And, in order to influence a cultural shift in popular culture and
 mass media, it is necessary to come together and stake a claim to redefine
 beauty.
     "What women in this study tell us is that a sense of legitimacy and
 respect is wrapped up with beauty in today's world. Whether this sentiment
 dismays or delights us, it poses a serious challenge," says Orbach.  "And it
 is this in the first instance: For the idea of beauty to become truly
 democratic and inclusive, then beauty itself must be revitalized to reflect
 women in their beauty as they really are rather than as portrayed in the
 current fictions that dominate our visual culture."
 
     So What is Beautiful?
     How are the women of the world defining beauty and what do they really
 want to see as society continues to evolve?  The study finds two-thirds of
 women strongly agree that physical attractiveness is about how one looks,
 whereas beauty includes much more of who a person is.  Women rate happiness,
 confidence, dignity and humor as powerful components of beauty, along with the
 more traditional attributes of physical appearance, body weight and shape, and
 even a sense of style.  The respondents also see beauty in many different
 forms:
 
      *  Seventy-seven percent strongly agree that beauty can be achieved
         through attitude, spirit and other attributes that have nothing to do
         with physical appearance.
 
      *  Eighty-nine percent strongly agree that a woman can be beautiful at
         any age.
 
      *  Eighty-five percent state every woman has something about her that is
         beautiful.
 
     Not only do women agree that happiness is the primary element in making a
 woman beautiful, but they strongly agree that they themselves feel most
 beautiful when they are happy and fulfilled in their lives (86%).
 Furthermore, 82 percent of women agree that, "If I had a daughter, I would
 want her to feel beautiful, even if she is not physically attractive."
     In conclusion, the study demonstrates that authentic beauty is a concept
 lodged in women's hearts and minds and seldom articulated in popular culture
 or affirmed in the mass media.  As such, it remains unrealized and unclaimed
 -- an idea of beauty that is a narrower, functional definition of "physical
 attractiveness."
     However, this study clearly outlines women's views about the true
 components of beauty and affirms that, while they include physical
 attractiveness, they also include happiness, kindness, wisdom, dignity, love,
 authenticity and self-realization. Through this study, the possibilities for
 the beautiful to be known, found and represented have been infinitely extended
 and the ways in which female beauty can be defined have been profoundly
 deepened.
 
     The Campaign for Real Beauty
     Sparked by the results of the global study, Dove is launching a major
 initiative designed to provoke discussion and encourage debate about the
 nature of beauty.  The Campaign for Real Beauty asks women to give serious
 thought to a host of issues surrounding beauty, such as society's definition
 of it, the quest for "perfection," the difference between beauty and physical
 attractiveness, and the way the media shapes our perceptions of beauty.
     The Campaign for Real Beauty uses various communication vehicles to invite
 women to join in the discussion about beauty and share their views of it with
 women around the world:
 
      *  Advertising:  A global advertising campaign, launching October 2004,
         will question whether "model" attributes, such as youth, slimness, and
         symmetrical features, are required for beauty -- or are completely
         irrelevant to it.  Each ad presents an image of a woman whose
         appearance differs from the stereotypical physical ideal, and asks the
         reader/viewer to judge the woman's looks by checking off a box.
 
          -- "Wrinkled?  Wonderful?" features Irene Sinclair, 95, of London,
             England with a wrinkled face and asks: "Will society ever accept
             old can be beautiful?"
 
          -- "Gray?  Gorgeous?" features Merlin Glozer, 45, of London, England
             with a natural mane of gray hair and asks: "Why aren't women glad
             to be gray?"
 
          -- "Oversized?  Outstanding?" features Tabatha Roman, 34, of New
             York, NY a plus-size woman and asks:  "Does true beauty only
             squeeze into a size 6?"
 
          -- "Half empty?  Half full?" features Esther Poyer, 35, of London,
             England with small breasts and asks: "Does sexiness depend on how
             full your cups are?"
 
          -- "Flawed?  Flawless?" features Leah Sheehan, 22, of London, England
             with freckles and asks: "Does beauty mean looking like everyone
             else?"
 
         Each ad will direct readers/viewers to a special web site
         (http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com ) where they can cast their
         votes.
 
      *  Web site:  At http://www.campaignforrealtbeauty.com , women can cast
         their votes on the questions raised in the ad campaign and engage in
         an ongoing dialogue about beauty by posting to discussion boards,
         hearing what women around the world are saying, and downloading
         research studies about beauty.
 
      *  Billboards:  Mobile billboards will be placed in major cities
         challenging women's notions of beauty by encouraging them to cast
         their votes.  A featured interactive billboard, located in New York's
         Times Square, highlighting the "Wrinkled? Wonderful?" ad will keep a
         running tally of the vote submitted for that issue.
 
      *  Panel discussions:
 
          -- The Campaign for Real Beauty launches in New York City on
             September 29 with a kick-off panel discussion about beauty, co-
             hosted by American Women in Radio and Television(R), and featuring
             Dr. Nancy Etcoff of Harvard University; Mindy Herman, former CEO,
             E! Entertainment Television; Andi Bernstein, Vice President,
             Special Projects, Oxygen Media and additional media and beauty
             industry leaders, moderated by Jamie Colby, Correspondent and
             Anchor, Fox News Channel.
 
          -- Dove is furthering the panel discussions on a grassroots level by
             partnering with the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, a
             not-for-profit educational organization that provides ethical
             leadership training and professional development for women, for
             two special weekend workshops to be held in Atlanta (October 8-10)
             and Chicago (November 12-14).
 
      *  The Dove Self-Esteem Fund:  Dove has established the Dove Self-Esteem
         Fund to raise awareness of the link between beauty and body-related
         self-esteem.  The new initiative continues an ongoing effort by Dove
         to fund programs that raise self-esteem in girls and young women.  The
         Dove Self-Esteem Fund is working through the Unilever Foundation to
         sponsor uniquely ME!, a partnership program with Girl Scouts of the
         USA that helps build self-confidence in girls ages 8-14 with resources
         and program activities.  The Dove Self-Esteem Fund also supports Body
         Talk, an educational program for schools in the United Kingdom and
         Canada.
 
     About The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report
     The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report was conducted by research
 firm StrategyOne in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Etcoff and the Massachusetts
 General Hospital/ Harvard University, and with the expert consultation of Dr.
 Susie Orbach of the London School of Economics.  The study is based on
 quantitative data collected from a global survey of 3,200 women from
 Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, United
 Kingdom, and the United States.
 
     About Dove
     Dove, manufactured by Unilever, is the No. 1 personal wash brand
 nationwide. One in every three households uses a Dove product, which includes
 bar cleansers, body washes, face care, anti-perspirants/ deodorants and hair
 care. Dove anti-perspirant/deodorant is the No. 2 female-oriented anti-
 perspirant/deodorant brand in the United States. Dove is available nationwide
 in food, drug and mass outlet stores. The Dove mission is to make women feel
 more beautiful every day by challenging today's stereotypical view of beauty
 and inspiring women to take great care of themselves. Visit
 http://www.dove.com .
 
 

SOURCE Dove and Unilever
    NEW YORK, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Dove(R) unveils a groundbreaking new
 study today that discusses the implications of a global society that narrowly
 defines beauty by the images seen in entertainment, advertising and fashion
 runways and the startling impact this has on women.  The result: only two
 percent of thousands of women from 10 countries around the world consider
 themselves beautiful.  Does this mean that we live in a world where women are
 not beautiful or does it mean that women around the world are calling for a
 broader definition of beauty?
     Dove, as a global beauty brand and responsible marketer, wants to
 investigate these issues and understand women's views on beauty.  With these
 concerns in mind, Dove partnered with Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Harvard University
 professor and author of "Survival of the Prettiest," and Dr. Susie Orbach,
 London School of Economics, visiting professor and author of "Fat is a
 Feminist Issue," to develop The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report,
 which explores the relationship women have with beauty.  Specifically, Dove's
 mission is to determine how women define beauty; their level of satisfaction
 with their own beauty; and its impact on their sense of well-being.
     "The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report makes it clear that it is
 time to lift the quota system on images of beauty," says Etcoff.  "This study
 uncovers that beauty is never going away and has enormous power.  Beauty
 should not be reduced to a political or cultural problem but understood as a
 basic human pleasure."
 
     Beauty: The Eye of the Beholder
     The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report uncovers startling
 information about how women physically perceive and define their look.
 Supporting the current and narrow definition of beauty, the respondents are
 hesitant to claim ownership of the word "beauty," with more than 40 percent
 strongly agreeing that they do not feel comfortable describing themselves as
 beautiful.
     Furthermore, only five percent feel comfortable describing themselves as
 pretty and a mere nine percent feel comfortable describing themselves as
 attractive.  Additionally, just 13 percent of women say they are very
 satisfied with their beauty; 12 percent say they are very satisfied with their
 physical attractiveness; 17 percent are very satisfied with their facial
 attractiveness; and only 13 percent are very satisfied with their body weight
 and shape.  In fact, in a society captivated by diet and makeover programs, a
 third of women around the world are very or somewhat dissatisfied with their
 body weight.  The women of Japan have the highest levels of dissatisfaction at
 59 percent -- followed by Brazil (37%), United Kingdom (36%) and the United
 States (36%), Argentina (27%) and the Netherlands (25%).
 
     Pop Culture's Beauty Mark
     Having assessed how women think about as well as evaluate their own beauty
 and appearance, the study asks women about social issues emerging from mass
 media and pop culture.  From Brazil to the Netherlands to Argentina -- across
 cultures, ages, ethnicities and race -- women make it clear they believe there
 is a one-dimensional and narrow, physical definition of beauty.  The findings
 show that the ideas of beauty and physical attractiveness are largely
 synonymous, and although both are highly valued by society, both are rendered
 almost impossible to attain.
 
     Respondents said they felt pressure to try and be that "perfect" picture
 of beauty:
 
      *  Sixty-three percent strongly agree that women today are expected to be
         more attractive than their mother's generation.
 
      *  Sixty percent strongly agree that society expects women to enhance
         their physical attractiveness.
 
      *  Forty-five percent of women feel women who are more beautiful have
         greater opportunities in life.
 
      *  More than half (59%) strongly agree that physically attractive women
         are more valued by men.
 
     The study explores the degree to which mass media has played a role in
 portraying and communicating a narrow definition of beauty:
 
      *  More than two-thirds (68%) of women strongly agree that "the media and
         advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women
         can't ever achieve."
 
      *  Well over half of all women (57%) strongly agree that "the attributes
         of female beauty have become very narrowly defined in today's world."
 
     Women around the World Unite
     The traditional definition of beauty, based only on physical appearance,
 is powerfully communicated through the mass media and has been assimilated
 through popular culture.  It is this ideal that many women measure themselves
 against and aspire to attain.  However, women around the world would like to
 see media change in the way it represents beauty.
 
     For example, women feel they are surrounded and bombarded with images that
 are unrealistic:
 
      *  The majority (76%) wish female beauty was portrayed in the media as
         being made up of more than just physical attractiveness.
 
      *  Seventy-five percent went on to say that they wish the media did a
         better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness,
         including age, shape and size.
 
     The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report uncovers that women recognize
 beauty is more than just physical -- it includes character, passion and
 presence.  And, in order to influence a cultural shift in popular culture and
 mass media, it is necessary to come together and stake a claim to redefine
 beauty.
     "What women in this study tell us is that a sense of legitimacy and
 respect is wrapped up with beauty in today's world. Whether this sentiment
 dismays or delights us, it poses a serious challenge," says Orbach.  "And it
 is this in the first instance: For the idea of beauty to become truly
 democratic and inclusive, then beauty itself must be revitalized to reflect
 women in their beauty as they really are rather than as portrayed in the
 current fictions that dominate our visual culture."
 
     So What is Beautiful?
     How are the women of the world defining beauty and what do they really
 want to see as society continues to evolve?  The study finds two-thirds of
 women strongly agree that physical attractiveness is about how one looks,
 whereas beauty includes much more of who a person is.  Women rate happiness,
 confidence, dignity and humor as powerful components of beauty, along with the
 more traditional attributes of physical appearance, body weight and shape, and
 even a sense of style.  The respondents also see beauty in many different
 forms:
 
      *  Seventy-seven percent strongly agree that beauty can be achieved
         through attitude, spirit and other attributes that have nothing to do
         with physical appearance.
 
      *  Eighty-nine percent strongly agree that a woman can be beautiful at
         any age.
 
      *  Eighty-five percent state every woman has something about her that is
         beautiful.
 
     Not only do women agree that happiness is the primary element in making a
 woman beautiful, but they strongly agree that they themselves feel most
 beautiful when they are happy and fulfilled in their lives (86%).
 Furthermore, 82 percent of women agree that, "If I had a daughter, I would
 want her to feel beautiful, even if she is not physically attractive."
     In conclusion, the study demonstrates that authentic beauty is a concept
 lodged in women's hearts and minds and seldom articulated in popular culture
 or affirmed in the mass media.  As such, it remains unrealized and unclaimed
 -- an idea of beauty that is a narrower, functional definition of "physical
 attractiveness."
     However, this study clearly outlines women's views about the true
 components of beauty and affirms that, while they include physical
 attractiveness, they also include happiness, kindness, wisdom, dignity, love,
 authenticity and self-realization. Through this study, the possibilities for
 the beautiful to be known, found and represented have been infinitely extended
 and the ways in which female beauty can be defined have been profoundly
 deepened.
 
     The Campaign for Real Beauty
     Sparked by the results of the global study, Dove is launching a major
 initiative designed to provoke discussion and encourage debate about the
 nature of beauty.  The Campaign for Real Beauty asks women to give serious
 thought to a host of issues surrounding beauty, such as society's definition
 of it, the quest for "perfection," the difference between beauty and physical
 attractiveness, and the way the media shapes our perceptions of beauty.
     The Campaign for Real Beauty uses various communication vehicles to invite
 women to join in the discussion about beauty and share their views of it with
 women around the world:
 
      *  Advertising:  A global advertising campaign, launching October 2004,
         will question whether "model" attributes, such as youth, slimness, and
         symmetrical features, are required for beauty -- or are completely
         irrelevant to it.  Each ad presents an image of a woman whose
         appearance differs from the stereotypical physical ideal, and asks the
         reader/viewer to judge the woman's looks by checking off a box.
 
          -- "Wrinkled?  Wonderful?" features Irene Sinclair, 95, of London,
             England with a wrinkled face and asks: "Will society ever accept
             old can be beautiful?"
 
          -- "Gray?  Gorgeous?" features Merlin Glozer, 45, of London, England
             with a natural mane of gray hair and asks: "Why aren't women glad
             to be gray?"
 
          -- "Oversized?  Outstanding?" features Tabatha Roman, 34, of New
             York, NY a plus-size woman and asks:  "Does true beauty only
             squeeze into a size 6?"
 
          -- "Half empty?  Half full?" features Esther Poyer, 35, of London,
             England with small breasts and asks: "Does sexiness depend on how
             full your cups are?"
 
          -- "Flawed?  Flawless?" features Leah Sheehan, 22, of London, England
             with freckles and asks: "Does beauty mean looking like everyone
             else?"
 
         Each ad will direct readers/viewers to a special web site
         (http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com ) where they can cast their
         votes.
 
      *  Web site:  At http://www.campaignforrealtbeauty.com , women can cast
         their votes on the questions raised in the ad campaign and engage in
         an ongoing dialogue about beauty by posting to discussion boards,
         hearing what women around the world are saying, and downloading
         research studies about beauty.
 
      *  Billboards:  Mobile billboards will be placed in major cities
         challenging women's notions of beauty by encouraging them to cast
         their votes.  A featured interactive billboard, located in New York's
         Times Square, highlighting the "Wrinkled? Wonderful?" ad will keep a
         running tally of the vote submitted for that issue.
 
      *  Panel discussions:
 
          -- The Campaign for Real Beauty launches in New York City on
             September 29 with a kick-off panel discussion about beauty, co-
             hosted by American Women in Radio and Television(R), and featuring
             Dr. Nancy Etcoff of Harvard University; Mindy Herman, former CEO,
             E! Entertainment Television; Andi Bernstein, Vice President,
             Special Projects, Oxygen Media and additional media and beauty
             industry leaders, moderated by Jamie Colby, Correspondent and
             Anchor, Fox News Channel.
 
          -- Dove is furthering the panel discussions on a grassroots level by
             partnering with the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, a
             not-for-profit educational organization that provides ethical
             leadership training and professional development for women, for
             two special weekend workshops to be held in Atlanta (October 8-10)
             and Chicago (November 12-14).
 
      *  The Dove Self-Esteem Fund:  Dove has established the Dove Self-Esteem
         Fund to raise awareness of the link between beauty and body-related
         self-esteem.  The new initiative continues an ongoing effort by Dove
         to fund programs that raise self-esteem in girls and young women.  The
         Dove Self-Esteem Fund is working through the Unilever Foundation to
         sponsor uniquely ME!, a partnership program with Girl Scouts of the
         USA that helps build self-confidence in girls ages 8-14 with resources
         and program activities.  The Dove Self-Esteem Fund also supports Body
         Talk, an educational program for schools in the United Kingdom and
         Canada.
 
     About The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report
     The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report was conducted by research
 firm StrategyOne in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Etcoff and the Massachusetts
 General Hospital/ Harvard University, and with the expert consultation of Dr.
 Susie Orbach of the London School of Economics.  The study is based on
 quantitative data collected from a global survey of 3,200 women from
 Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, United
 Kingdom, and the United States.
 
     About Dove
     Dove, manufactured by Unilever, is the No. 1 personal wash brand
 nationwide. One in every three households uses a Dove product, which includes
 bar cleansers, body washes, face care, anti-perspirants/ deodorants and hair
 care. Dove anti-perspirant/deodorant is the No. 2 female-oriented anti-
 perspirant/deodorant brand in the United States. Dove is available nationwide
 in food, drug and mass outlet stores. The Dove mission is to make women feel
 more beautiful every day by challenging today's stereotypical view of beauty
 and inspiring women to take great care of themselves. Visit
 http://www.dove.com .
 
 SOURCE  Dove and Unilever