Dove is an agent of change to be celebrated this IWD

With the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day being #BeBoldForChange, it makes me proud that one of our clients is a long standing advocate for creating and driving positive change in an industry that too often perpetuates limiting and narrow definitions of women.

As it celebrates its 60th birthday, Dove has reaffirmed its commitment to championing a wider, more diverse view of women in the beauty industry by always using real women of different ages, sizes and ethnicities, and never presenting manipulated, flawless images of ‘perfect’ beauty.  The brand truly walks the walk with its Dove Self-Esteem Project, which delivers body confidence and self-esteem education to young people worldwide.

A few of us from Golin London were privileged enough to go to New York last week to mark Dove’s birthday milestone.  We hosted an event where we invited ten real women – each with an inspiring story – to share their perspective on beauty and diversity with around 100 global media.

From a mother and daughter duo on a mission to promote body self-acceptance (Stylelikeu), to the first Muslim woman wearing a hijab to represent Team USA in the Olympics (Ibtihaj Muhammad ), to a self-described ‘recovered anorexic and recovered self-loather’ who now teaches body confidence (Body Posi Panda), to an 88 year old supermodel breaking the stereotypes in the modelling world; each of the women brought their unique perspective on beauty, challenging the norm that being ‘beautiful’ means you have to conform to the usual young, white, blonde, size 8 image that is so often presented to us by brands and by the media.

Later that day, Dove’s latest real beauty campaign was unveiled to the media: a powerful collaboration with Mario Testino featuring 32 women from 15 different countries, ranging in age from 11 to 71.

What Dove has done and continues to do is bold and mould breaking and shows that change can happen, and does make a difference.  It is exciting to see that what Dove has started is being emulated by many other brands in beauty and fashion with real women, and un-retouched photos, becoming more and more commonplace.

But just as the ambition for #BeBoldForChange is to create long-term change and not just a day of editorial coverage that quickly gets forgotten, the commitment of brands to promote a wider definition of beauty in their communications will need to be a long-term commitment, not just a one-hit wonder.  And those brands can learn a lot from Dove about how to do it right.

Images of the ‘Real Beauty Showcase’ collaboration between Dove and Mario Testino featuring 32 women from 15 different countries, ranging in age from 11 to 71.