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Dove Protects Women’s Real Beauty Against AI Influence

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Vusi Melane
Vusi Melane
Staff Writer

This week, Dove unveiled its groundbreaking report titled “The Real State of Beauty,” a comprehensive study of beauty worldwide aimed at understanding its impact on women and girls today.

The findings of the report revealed that an alarming 63% of women in South Africa, along with 35% of girls aged 10 to 17, struggle with moderate to low levels of ‘body esteem’. Additionally, it highlighted that globally, 2 out of every 5 women would sacrifice a year of their life to attain their beauty standards.


Most disturbingly, the levels of confidence South African women once held in their own beauty is plummeting, from 93% in 2016 to 72% in 2024.

These findings constitute a segment of a comprehensive study involving over 33,000 respondents across 20 markets. In this study, women have candidly discussed the realities of beauty and the daily pressures they encounter. However, a significant number of women are already taking a stand and rejecting misrepresentations and manipulations of their beauty. They aspire to a future where they have the autonomy to define and proclaim what authentic beauty truly entails.

The founder of wellness hub, Wisdom & Wellness, a Dove ambassador, Mpoomy Ledwaba says “The results underscore a concerning trend, particularly in South Africa, where the decline in body esteem and confidence among women and girls calls for urgent action. Beauty should be a source of confidence, not anxiety. These statistics are a stark reminder of the work still needed to dismantle unattainable beauty standards and foster a culture of inclusivity and self-acceptance.”

Veteran broadcaster Zuraida Jardine, spoken word artist Botlhale Boikanyo, and influencer Mpoomy made waves in London, reshaping the concept of ‘real beauty.’ Dove reaffirmed its dedication to women by vowing to never depict them using AI in their advertisements.

“Over the past twenty years, our Campaign for Real Beauty has sought to challenge the narrow definitions of beauty and celebrate the rich authenticity the South African woman embodies. The impact of hollow beauty standards is felt around the world, and we all have a joint responsibility to safeguard the confidence of women and young girls.” added Mpoomy

While the beauty standard has evolved in the past two decades, it is still impossible to achieve, and impossible to escape. The study also found that women feel they are expected to look healthy (76%) while also being slim (68%); and they should have a small waist (64%) while also being curvy (57%) – creating a world where women and girls are willing to give up so much to meet unrealistic expectations. Furthermore, a resounding two-in-three (62%) believe that women today are expected to be more physically attractive than their mother’s generation.

One of the biggest threats to the representation of real beauty is Artificial Intelligence (AI), something the previous generation did not have to worry about. And today, almost 90% of women and girls surveyed say they have been exposed to harmful beauty content online.

With 90% of the content online predicted to be AI-generated by 2025*, the rise of AI is a threat to women’s wellbeing: one-in-three feel pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even when they know it’s fake or AI generated.  While AI has the potential to foster creativity and access to beauty – with one-in-four women (28%) and almost one-in-two girls (41%) agreeing that being able to create different versions of yourself using AI is empowering – there is still a need for greater representation and transparency.

Since 2004, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has spurred a movement challenging societal norm, media portrayals, and the beauty industry’s standards. Now, Dove pledges to uphold its commitment to real beauty by vowing never to use AI to depict women in its ads.

Introducing the ‘Real Beauty Prompt Guidelines,’ Dove aims to establish new digital standards for representation. These guidelines will offer clear instructions on crafting images that authentically represent real beauty across popular generative AI platforms.

Dove’s latest initiative, ‘The Code’ acknowledges the influence of AI on beauty standards. It highlights the transformative impact of real beauty over two decades, signaling ongoing progress in reshaping beauty ideals for the better.

Source: * Nina Schick, AI expert, prediction: With 90% of the content online predicted to be AI-generated by 2025. Source: Organize your life and…work with monday.com – the customizable work management platform (youtube.com)

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