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Dove Can't Get Diversity Right

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Dove's Latest Ad Misses the Mark... Again
A screenshot of Dove's controversial ad

Dove is best known for its bar soaps, body washes, and deodorants found at any local drug store, but it’s also gained notoriety for questionable marketing practices over the past several years.

In its latest blunder, Dove posted a GIF on Facebook in which a black woman removes her skin-colored top and subsequently turns into a white woman wearing a shirt that matches her lighter complexion. The image was met with outcry across social media over the weekend, with many declaring it racially insensitive. Some even compared the clip to early 20th century soap ads that featured black people scrubbing their skin to in an effort to become white.

Dove swiftly apologized, stating it is “committed to representing the beauty of diversity. In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.” A spokesperson told the New York Times the GIF “was intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong and, as a result, offended many people.” This kind of incident is hardly the first for the brand, nor is it the first this year.

In May, for a British campaign, Dove offered its body wash in six differently-shaped bottles to represent a range of body types, from “curvaceous to slender, tall to petite.” Shoppers found the idea patronizing, and The Atlantic pointed out that the bottles “inadvertently imply there is a best body after all.” In 2015, a Dove ad showed women presented with the option to enter a building through two doors, one labeled “beautiful” and the other “average.” BuzzFeed called the ad condescending, noting its exploitation of women’s self esteem as a marketing ploy.

But wait, there’s more: In 2014, the brand put out an ad in which women were given pharmaceutical patches that promised to make them more beautiful, only to realize the patches were a placebo — suggesting that beauty is within. Jezebel crowned the manipulative ad Dove’s “Most Bullshit Yet.” There was also a 2011 ad, which showed three women in towels standing in order of skin tone, with the word “before” near the darker woman and “after” near the lighter-skinned woman.

Through all of these instances, Dove has defended its intentions, reiterating that its marketing is meant to pivot away from sexualization and other tropes inherent in beauty advertising and instead ignite conversations about body positivity. In April, Dove brought on TV mogul Shonda Rhimes to launch Real Beauty Productions, which will produce future campaigns featuring real women — another signal that the company is interested in diversity. And sure, plenty of people have found Dove’s ads “moving” and “thought provoking.” In 2014, a decade after the Real Beauty campaign which many of these initiatives are a part of was created, it was reported that Dove sales had increased $2.5 billion to $4 billion. It’s unlikely that this latest snafu will slow down that momentum. —Chavie Lieber, senior reporter; photo @Naythemua

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Deal of the Day

All you sample sale adrenaline junkies are in luck: Tibi is holding an “online sample sale,” starting today through Thursday, October 12th. Items from the brand’s fall 2016 and spring 2017 are up to 80% off, including this cooler-than-usual poplin button-down (reduced to $88 from $295), lace-up loafers that can take you through the season ($73, down from $365), and a leather high-waisted skirt that’s currently $219, reduced from $1,095 — if any online purchase could confer that IRL sample sale rush, it’d be this.  

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We Ask, You Tell
That Time I Tried to Resell My Clothes

Last week, Jaya Saxena told us about trying to resell some unwanted clothes to a thrift store, only to have nearly all of them rejected — a universal story that shouldn’t feel as embarrassing as it so often does. So we asked you all to tell us your tales, either about trying (and failing) to sell some used clothing, or, if you've somehow mastered the elusive resale exchange, to please, for the love of god, tell us how to walk away with a handful of cash. Here's what you said:

I once tried to sell three bags of clothing to Buffalo Exchange only to have it rejected. My ever-so-much-cooler friend asked if she could try for me. She brought the same three bags in about a week later and sold about two bags of my clothes. From then on she sold my clothing for me. —Kay

I am a senior, which DOES NOT mean I don’t have “style.” In fact I have so much of it, I try to (occasionally) go through my closets and reduce the number of items, so I can go out and buy more. I piled two bags of these items, which included shirts, blouses, jeans, etc. into two large bags and carted them off to the local “vintage” resale shop, where I’d seen many people (granted, they were young) walk off with cash.  What an embarrassing situation for me: somehow, my clothes, which I thought were definitely going to fit in with this store’s motif, were all rejected, out of hand and very quickly.  I felt like a fool. I still have no idea why: I guess it’s a case of one man’s treasures are seen by others as “junk.” Sigh. —Ruth

Read the rest of the responses here >>
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