Are You Beautiful Or Average?…Don’t Lie!


So Dove are at it again. They come up with these really thought provoking campaigns which frankly I sometimes feel are at odds with some of their advertising… but I digress.


This Is The Deal

They put up signs on entrances. One marked ‘Average,’ the other ‘Beautiful’. And people – oh who are we kidding – women – were spied on to see which entrance they chose to use.

All very nice, wild flowers, bunny rabbits and huggy-ness. Now, let’s assume they are referring to physical beauty (as they never clarify)…what is wrong in admitting you are average – if you are?


Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder and possibly nearly every mother, like some of the mothers featured in the video, would supportively shove their daughters through the ‘Beautiful’ door.

But if YOU yourself think you are average looking and it is FACT – why lie? We can’t all be ravishing beauties.

Sitting here, chowing down cave-woman style on some bread I made 2 days ago, I feel distinctly average. That’s okay. I’ll live.



Am I wrong? Is this more PC nonsense where we cannot call a spade a spade these days?
Must we force women to walk unconfidently and uncertainly through the Beautiful door, even if their gut feeling is telling them they shouldn’t be there? You wouldn’t wolf whistle at Margaret Thatcher, but she was still a remarkable woman.



104 thoughts on “Are You Beautiful Or Average?…Don’t Lie!

  1. I thought this commercial was clever yet condescending. When the ‘actors’ were asked which door they really would have walked through, seeing as they ALL went through ‘average’, they said ‘beautiful’ and that was for the sake of the ad obviously. I agree, beauty is not about appearance, not at all, but that’s not what the public believe and having a dumb ad like this appear makes the botox industry make more millions just from ads like these. ‘um, am I beautiful or average?’ OF COURSE dove won’t do it, I need a nose job! and that’s what it gets women thinking…stupid egotistical crap.

      1. haha, ok madam Ed, here it is….I am beautiful. I am a creation of the greatest creator of all times. I have flaws, but they are part of what make me beautiful. I am woman, I am all. I love who I am, and I don’t need to apologise, because I spent a lifetime apologising, till one day I woke up, blinked twice and wondered’ ‘What am I apologising for? my hair is gorgeous and I’ve got the bluest eyes and thank God for dentists, because they fixed my sad teeth!’ I’m alive happy and proud. and so are you x x x x shew, thank you. love you to bits x

  2. I’m really glad you wrote what you did underneath.
    In all honesty, throughout the video I just thought ‘okay, in the widely accepted levels of beauty I am average. And totally okay with that.’
    I may think I’m a beautiful person inside sometimes (take that in the least conceited manner, haha!) and yes, I have good days and bad days lookswise but we have the widely accepted ‘beautiful’. I’m not that, I don’t mind. It doesn’t really matter what I think of myself because frankly, no matter what I think I’ll always be put on the widely accepted scale. Everyone is! Perhaps they shouldn’t be, but they are.

    I’m average. I’m happy with that. I’d go through average even if there was a lower door too, because that’s what I think I am.
    Please let me know I’m not the only one who would find going through the Beautiful door mortifying?!

    1. I wouldn’t find it mortifying, but I couldn’t take it seriously either. And boy are you right about ‘the wider scale.’ Read any online newspaper and see how fairly attractive to notionally accepted beautiful women are viciously pulled apart by others. So you see it really is all a bit of a joke.
      It’s not important. It is advertisers who need you to think it is.

  3. I agree. Looks aren’t everything. If everyone is beautiful, nobody is beautiful.

    This ad is just another one urging women to be judged and valued by their looks. It’s encouraging themselves to base their self esteem on their looks, to believe they’re beautiful… Regardless of the truth.

    If Dove wants me to buy their stuff they’re going to have to convince me that their products are good for my skin, not for my beauty.

    Here’s the thing: you can’t really buy beauty.
    And it should be an extra, not the definition of ‘woman’.

    Ugly women (yup, they exist) are just as valuable as gorgeous ones.

  4. I would like to say A few words about Beauty

    Every women holds beauty, whether they show is their choice
    Many look at the outside, or within their voice
    A brunette for instance, or a blond with a tall stance
    The true beauty comes from the heart, without it watch out for a dart.
    It could come in the form of a broken heart, and a gradual fresh start.
    So in looking for a Beauty or Average, Look within the heart or you could be looking at the 1st Stage AGAIN !

  5. Dove is a company trying to sell products. Obviously the more ‘buzz’ they create through advertising brings more attention to their product line. I’m not inclined to buy their products just because of this campaign. I am probably more inclined to punish them by not buying their products. The thought of having someone publicly classify themselves as beautiful or average strikes me as a throw back to times where women were judged solely on their looks and not what they can bring to the table in terms of intellect, problem solving skills or management abilities. As a mother of four, two daughters and two sons, my husband and I have never spoken of another individual as beautiful or average. It’s character that counts. Shame on Dove.

  6. As always, I’m a little out of the box. This actually gave me a lot to think about. I want to see beautiful when I look in the mirror. I’m told I’m beautiful…and not just physically…but all I see is average…if that! I tell my daughter she is beautiful, funny, smart, loved–by God and by us–because I want her to grow up confident in who she is… but I don’t live it myself. Seeing this made me realize that when she gets older and doesn’t see me living the things I know are true about myself that I tell her will she not believe me? I do think there is more to this but I’m terrible at putting thoughts into words. It’s deeper than how we SEE ourselves. I felt horrible (and related to) the girl who just walked away. .. I think I would do the same thing. I’d want to walk through the beautiful door…but would feel awful walking through the average better not to choose.
    That’s me anyway.

    1. But this is it my dear Jenn. Something over the years has messed with you enough to leave you so uncertain about who you are.

      Not just you, we’ve all been there. You are telling your daughter one thing and doing the opposite for yourself. You have received conflicting and damaging messages from the wrong people throughout your life and it is manifesting now in your confusion about how to label yourself. (I’m referring to media as I don’t know what messages your friends and family have told you of course.)

      You are not alone as you have seen the total confusion from some of the women in the film and even the one who just gave up and walked away.
      It’s the messages Jenn. Men don’t get them (as much) so they aren’t as conflicted. Change the messages. Change the messengers.

      It is a mind game and it isn’t much to do with how you actually look. As I said to someone else, I heard first hand how my modelling compatriots denigrated their looks. They were never beautiful enough…Cover girls!

      You stand there in front of the mirror and are viewing yourself through the years of BS you’ve been told. Average is average. Beautiful is beautiful. And yet neither are happy with the way they look.

      I would stop listening to the nonsense. Listen only to people who you trust and at the top of that tree it has to be you.
      Just be YOU. Don’t wait until you are 90 to see that you were not such a bad old stick after all. Accept that now and anything that comes along from a blog or magazine or TV to conflict with that, move on. Turn it over, bin it, it’s all bullshit.
      Making women feel as confused as you sound is just good business, that’s all it is.

      As long as you have not murdered anyone, you are kind to animals, you’re not unnecessarily an asshole (cos sometimes being an asshole IS entirely necessary to the right people!) and you do your best Jenn, you’re fine.

      Beauty is a shifting paradigm. A large woman berated in the west is a stunner in other parts of the world. Black was not beautiful in many places (even Africa!) for ages. First voluptuous was sexy then thin was in. Blacks were insulted for their skin colour, their big lips and their big butts, yet what are the fastest growing cosmetic surgery operations performed today? Don’t fall for it Jenn. Use your own standards of measurement and change your messengers.

      Although Dove are referring to physical beauty and that was what my post was challenging, it’s YOUR life, YOUR rules. Once you get used to setting your own standards you can walk through any door and not give a damn.

  7. I totally hear you – your thoughtful criticism is right on. For me it is a confidence issue. Many of us suffer from low self confidence, and if this ad is able to encourage some women to think of themselves as beautiful, heck, why not? We only live once. We gotta be happy with what we have. But if it makes us worry about being average and makes us compare ourselves to the “other” beautiful women, well, who needs it? πŸ˜‰

    1. Yep I think you hit the nail on he proverbial head. it is a confidence issue. So build people’s confidence but don’t lie to them or ask them to lie to themselves. Someone with half a face missing or a nose where their ear should be is not what we would call physically attractive and all the walking through doors in the world is not going to change that.

      Few people, if any, if given the choice to have features like that would choose it, so who are we kidding? However, that does not mean that those people who do look like that are not the coolest people you might ever meet. They might be the most beautiful people inside or equally the most horrible. Just stop this pc nonsense and be honest, otherwise what happens to truth?

      However we look (and I used to be a model for a millisecond) it is usually a confidence issue. Some of the most stunning girls I knew from modelling thought they were horrendous looking and took drugs and smoked and dieted to alter their looks. So this is a mind game issue.

      Stop messing with women’s minds and they’ll be just fine.
      Feed them instead the confidence to be whatever they are and however they look or WISH to look, (because there is nothing wrong in adapting to what you prefer either) with total unquestioned acceptance and pride. Sod everyone else’s opinion. But then who would profit hugely from that?

      1. Yes, well said. Without a strong cultural narrative in the US we are all looking to pop culture and the media for validation, and it is the worst place to look.

  8. The experiment goes against Dove’s ongoing campaign as you mentioned in the post. By making women choose they are forcing us to label ourselves and their ads say clearly that, all women are beautiful. Having said that, which door would I use? I probably wouldn’t go in at all, thinking that there would probably be someone with a clipboard on the other side waiting to ask me questions I don’t want to answer.

  9. I would fail this test because it wouldn’t occur to me that the sign over the door is supposed to be in some way reflective of me. I would have assumed they are talking about the contents of the store inside. Provided I could see from the outside that both doors didn’t lead to the same place, I would go through the beautiful door if I was looking for beautiful things (which I’m usually not unless I am shopping for art as practical is so much better), or I would go through the average door if I wanted to shop for things that were priced fairly. If I did see the doors went to the same place I would use whatever door was closest. So… long answer… the signs are about them, not about me.

    1. Ha! Love me some squiggly line thinkers! I don’t think I would have a clue what the signs referred to either to be fair and I’d have just shrugged and got on with my shopping, lost in my own world as usual.

  10. I think Jo-Ann Chateau made the best comment and I agree, standing ovation to Dove. I think the commercial is a conversation started, a paradigm-shifting push. It isn’t an answer, it is not a comment, it is many, many questions….i love how you can get SO much discussion from it, and that was their point, I would imagine. I know it ends with #choosebeautiful, b/c of course, all their ads promote positive self-image…but think of all the amazing conversations: Doors in general (labelled previously for whites and blacks, entrances for ‘the help’, bathrooms (M or F – and now ‘family’ – only) ;who makes the distinction Average or Beautiful: the person walking through the door or the person watching the person walking through the door; how does the definition change depending on where the doors are?; Should we all believe we are beautiful, or is it harmful in some way? Should we encourage our daughters to believe they are beautiful, or does it matter, should it matter, are we making the beautiful/ugly dichotomy stronger by acknowledging it; Are they commenting on the terms Average and Beautiful…what does average really mean? Is there an average? Is that a negative term? Is beautiful a positive term?; How would the experiment been different if they had put up terms like Unique vs. Common, Strong vs. Feminine? Kudos Dove for making my brain work harder today.

    1. I had only just said something similar. The conversations for and agin that spring up from their videos are always very interesting and that is to be applauded.

      And whether we know it or not we are having our minds altered by the presence of Dove’s campaigns which will show itself in multiple ways, one of which will be more awareness of a particular issue and also increased sales for them. Even for those of us who think we are beyond this kind of persuasion.

  11. Looking in the mirror at 5:15 a.m. this morning, eyes swollen and hair askew, I would have loved to wake up and call myself beautiful. I have on occasion taken a really nice selfie or had a moment as I spend exactly fourteen minutes pampering myself for date night (after making mac and cheese and nuggets and hoping I don’t get ketchup on my only white unstained blouse) and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I hit the potty one last time before a night on the town…and think “wow…not bad for a haggered housewife”.
    Joking aside…I am not sure this campaign will provoke honesty and soul-searching for our beautiful selves…inside or out. I think it will cause self-doubt…one thing we do NOT need in this harsh modern world.

  12. Maybe the labels should have been “Superficially Beautiful” and “Glaringly Average” or maybe … maybe we shouldn’t play stupid games. There are only two doors (thus creating a false dichotomy); shouldn’t there be a third door labeled “None of the Above” for the “Fucking Brilliant” and “Delightfully Cunning” and all of the others?

  13. I just showed this ad to my 12 year old son, do you know what he said at the end of the commercial?
    “What’s on the other side of the doors, Dove soap?”
    He nailed it.
    It’s just and ad to sell their “soap”.

  14. I think it’s a case of mind over matter.

    If we ignore societal pressures and concentrate on our own essence, we become more self-aware. With time, we realise that beauty is magnificently robust.

    What we elect to feed our minds on, manifests in us. If you keep telling yourself that you’re average, then people will see the average in you. If you keep telling yourself that you’re beautiful, ‘inside-out-top-to-bottom-and-around’, then beauty will ooze out of you.

    I would most certainly saunter into the building through the door marked β€œBEAUTIFUL” because every so often, I have to look myself square in the mirror, and tell myself that I am – regardless of the perceptions of others.

    …or maybe I’d walk through that β€œBEAUTIFUL” door just to give society something to mull over. πŸ˜‰

    1. One of the most wonderful traits of African women I have met in the past is their ability to bludgeon through all societal influences and declare themselves BEAUTIFUL. With a capital ‘B’ and the rest in caps too!

      They are not joking, self mocking, being ironic or seeking your approval or disagreement. It is SOOO refreshing.
      Fat, thin, tall, short, old young. It is remarkable and a testament to the fact that they had not yet been exposed to the daily mind poison fed to women in the west.

      I don’t know about today with access to the internet and international television channels. I do know that the rot had already started to set in when I last visited Africa, with the hair weaves, plastic surgery and bleaching creams, so goodness knows where it’s at now.

      1. Your observation on African women being image proud no matter what, is encouraging.
        We are exposed to unrealistic beauty ideologies just as much as women in the west. And you’re absolutely right, some of them are buckling under pressure.
        Women! We never seem to quite catch a break long enough to let our hair down and put our feet up.

  15. frankly I think the campaign is ridiculous. Why do we put more stress on ourselves to fit a certain mold. Beauty is how you feel about yourself not some pre-defined notion of what we should look at or conform to. Goodness knows I am not drop dead gorgeous but I’m not bad too look at….lol!!! Personally I would choose average for one simple reason…I am happy with who I am and do not need someone to tell me I am beautiful. And even though it is nice to hear, it’s not something I have to hear

  16. Hmm I’d turn around and look for a different door. I know that all advertising is about lifestyle and aspiration. I admire some for their sheer audacity – McD’s springs to mind. I liked Dove’s campaigns when it was more about us just being women, in all shapes and sizes. Making us choose who we are isn’t fair. Everyone is more than what they look like. A choice of Beautiful or Average is not good enough.

  17. Reblogged this on The Life and Times of Miss Jackson and commented:
    This was a great blog post as it very truthfully talks about the kind of thing us women all ponder on: Is it actually helpful to masquerade as a great beauty when we know deep down that looks wise we are just average and perhaps more importantly, why do we seem to care so much??

  18. I think beautiful is a feeling and it can never be a fact, only an opinion or a state of being so those that walk through the average door are sadly, not giving themselves the credit they definitely deserve. Think about any of your friends who you love and cherish and who make you laugh or do kind things from you – could you ever look at them as average? I couldn’t.

  19. Everybody: Stop worrying about what’s politically correct. The phrase has turned into a hammer to pound down people awkward enough to say things like, “You do know you’re helping women feel horrible about themselves, don’t you?”

  20. Ad campaigns like these are always ridiculous. “We’re all beautiful.” Are we? Or rather, do we have to be? Because the implication is that beauty is essential.

    I don’t know what happened in that video, because I ended up here at twelve thirty at night. But do you know what I would like to see? Woman after woman seeing those labels on those doors, and walking away without entering either.

      1. No, see, I understood what the doors were, where they lead to. That didn’t matter. There has been more than one business that I have refused to patronize because of poor service, rude employees, etc. And this place is spectacularly rude in a new and imaginative way. Before you even get inside! If I saw those doors, I wouldn’t go in. If I had my little sister with me, ten years old, I’d explain why, and we’d shop elsewhere.

  21. I’m equally curious which door most men used. Also, I’m not sure that I’d get the experiment. I go for the door closest to me in most cases.

    But if you’re curious, I consider my appearance to be way below average. I’d still pick the closest entrance.

    1. Lol. I can almost guarantee that the majority of men would go through the Beautiful door. They have not been put upon for a millenia about how inferior in all sorts of ways they are compared to women. Although courtesy of cosmetic companies their time is nigh!

  22. Beautiful or Average??? Are those the only two choices??? I’m so special, I need something more specific!!!!!

    Well, OK, I am kidding — a little — but this whole experiment seems so superficial, doesn’t it? I have to ask myself: Do real women have so little to do these days that they can actually take time to get involved in this kind of stuff — or even take time to CARE?

    Well, I guess we all know what label I need on my door: Cynical.

  23. I think that the word “beautiful” has expanded beyond a physical description. These days, we use it to describe almost all aspects of a person.

    Think about, say, Susan Boyle. Let’s not pretend that she’s incredibly physically attractive. But she is beautiful. She doesn’t deserve to walk through the “average” door. I don’t think anybody deserves to walk through the “average” door because everyone has something special and beautiful about them. Hell, I think even men should walk through that “beautiful” door.

    1. But has it? From the conversations of these women in the video, (if I remember them all) they talked about their looks.
      Why isn’t the rather sweet Ms Boyle on the front of Vogue instead of Kim Kardashian?

      1. Well perhaps it’s just me who thinks that way? I don’t mind that, lol.

        I remember when I first watched the video, somebody in the comments asked why there weren’t doors for men. That sparked a discussion about what words they’d use. “Handsome” and “average” maybe? But handsome doesn’t quite encompass the same meanings as beautiful. That’s why I (and a few others in that comment thread) said that men could use the “beautiful” and “average” doors the same as the women.

        We describe sunsets and poetry and furniture and faces and songs as beautiful all the time. Very few of those we describe as handsome. That is why I think beautiful means more than physically attractive.

        And Ms. Boyle isn’t on the cover of Vogue because magazine covers strive for sex appeal. ;P

        I still stand by my thoughts on this demonstration. There is nothing wrong with accepting average looks but believing you are beautiful anyway. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful, regardless of their facial appeal or body type.

      2. I don’t think you are the only person who thinks being beautiful is more than about looks. A few people have said similar in these comments too, I suggested that people who do think this way are the minority.

        Yes magazine covers strive for sex appeal but physical beauty is clearly the predominant asset needed. You cannot photograph sex appeal, it’s too nebulous. People don’t look for sexually appealing cover girls they look for physically beautiful girls who MIGHT by chance also have sex appeal. Kate, Duchess of Cambridge is deemed pretty to beautiful, but sex appeal? She is on many covers. “Yes but she’s a princess” you’ll say and I’d say, “So where are Princess Anne’s covers?” Kate is there primarily for her physical beauty. Not her sex appeal or her inner beauty.

        I would also argue that feeling beautiful is not the same as saying you know you are physically beautiful which is what walking through the doors is asking women to do as no one in the film talked about their inner beauty. This Dove campaign is not about inner beauty but physical beauty if you read their accompanying literature.

        A sunset is indeed beautiful physically. A dog turd is not. Both are part of natures mysterious, enchanting beauty, but only one of them can be realistically described as being physically beautiful.

        This takes me back to your original point, yes the word has expanded to mean more than physical beauty as you first said, but not for the majority and not for this campaign.

        PS – With that cheeky wink are you suggesting you don’t find Ms Boyle sexy??!!

      3. Yeah I got bored of the feedback all the women were giving so I don’t think I listened too well. xP But I did notice that every woman that passed through the doors were beautiful, so I’m wondering if I missed the point, if Dove did, or if those women did. OR WHAT EVEN WAS THE POINT?

        If I felt like rewatching it to figure it out I probably would, but at the moment I’m kind of “over it” lol. Lots of good discussion in these comments though, I’m impressed.

  24. As a mom of three girls, ages 24 to 13, I don’t find these ads actually help their self image. We actually have had these discussions. What has made an impact is how I have treated them not as people that are judged based on their looks, but loved based on who they are. The world will teach them that looks can and do affect the way you are treated but more importantly, it’s the person you are, and the brains you use that make long lasting impressions and long lasting friendships.
    A woman that has confidence will walk through the beautiful door. A woman who walks the the other may be either truly humble or looking for attention. How will you know?
    There should be a third door, it should say “valuable” or “special” instead of this stupid shallow choice of beautiful or average. That’s just so shallow.

    1. It is rather and as someone else said attractiveness or beauty is a shifting parameter.
      So perhaps we should look for something more substantial for our girls? There is reason why this is aimed at women – and that is the problem that probably needs fixing. They are still being asked to measure their self esteem by their looks. Men aren’t.

      1. Exactly! We have to keep in mind Dove is marketing its products to women, and the bottom line is to successfully raise their sales of their “beauty” products, and using a false facade of “inner” beauty is how they aim to manipulate women to think they are taking the dialogue into a deeper level. They are not.
        We just ignore their ads. We chose our products based on what we like and what’s good for us, not based on the image they want us to buy of ourselves.
        We need to make sure we portray our daughters, nieces, granddaughters the idea that we don’t need an ad agency to teach us to “value” ourselves. We treat them as people who have value and talk to them and engage them as people with lives and ideas and interests and they will know. But…. It’s not easy in a world of media that keeps bringing the subject back to “beauty”. I’ve been thinking that the other door should have been labelled happy or joyful or confident, or some other attribute like that, instead of average. That would have taken courage in their part.

      2. Got it in one! Lol! Although I like to think that there IS a passionate creative person at Dove who DOES care about the campaigns he/she cooks up and really DOES want to challenge people’s thoughts, because some of the campaigns have been really quite good and I’m sure greater ones will come.

        Ultimately though, we are left with a company that needs to sell products. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but there is no tree-hugging, female-supporting way to get around that, unless all the profit went to a charity, or they had begun that way originally and sold products later as an after-thought.
        For mindful people, every new thought provoking video will always have the perfumed stench of advertising agency marketing campaign wafting after it.

    2. Indeed. Where are the men? Why are these limiting labels not placed at their shops? Harrassment on the whole. Pain in the neck to be questioned about our beauty day in day out.

      1. That’s the thing isn’t it? It IS a daily barrage in some form or other.
        ‘Are you sexy enough?’
        ‘Do you look too old for your age? Look at these celebrities of your age who look better than you.’
        ‘Okay so you did your face – what about your neck / hands / knees is it revealing your age?’
        ‘Are your armpits good enough? (A DOVE advert I might add.)
        ‘Is your bikini body ready for summer?’
        ‘Dull, lifeless hair?’
        ‘How pert is your bottom?’
        ‘How to get a models thighs.’
        Basically the only thing they’ve yet to attack on a woman is the inner lining of her nose.

      2. I think you’re missing the point here – men certainly are ambushed with qualifiers. Ours just happen to be different: is your sexual performance good enough, do you make enough money, are you dressed well enough, how virile do you appear, how do you smell…

      3. 100% agreed. But I don’t think she is missing the point. She is saying (and she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) that men are not battered with the physical beauty or even handsome thing with the same brutality and consistency. But like I said elsewhere, cosmetics companies have suddenly noticed you in the past decade, so welcome to the party pal! πŸ™‚

      4. I hear you. You are right. It is not a competition between the sexes. It is important for us to remember that. So instead of seeking revenge, we should be looking into ourselves. Make better choices. Day by day. πŸ™‚

  25. I’m not sure it truly matters which door someone walks through. The main thing for me is ” where is the locus of control on that decision?” Walking through either door is completely fine if the decision was based on knowledge of self. Decisions based on what the world at large says make for eventual disappointment because the target is always moving. The public perception of beauty would have been very different 300 years ago. Be beautiful or be average but be yourself. You’ve only got one package for yourself. Aside from minor tweaks, you can’t change it too much and definitely can’t trade it in. So love your averageness or beauty on your own terms.

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