Dove pledges to ‘keep beauty real’ in the age of AI

Dove pledges to keep beauty real in the age of AI

In the digital age, the lines between reality and virtuality are increasingly blurred, and the concept of what constitutes real beauty continues to evolve, greatly impacting the cosmetics and personal care product industries. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has greatly influenced the representation of beauty in media and advertising and has fallen under increased scrutiny in recent years. 

Acknowledging the potential harmful associations with AI-generated depictions of beauty, Dove, who has built a reputation as a champion of authentic representations of beauty since 2004, has taken a firm stance on the issue with its recent commitment to never use AI to represent real people in its advertising campaigns.

2024 marks 20 years of Dove’s celebrating real beauty campaigns, and in recognition of the milestone, the company has released 2024 The Real State of Beauty: a global report​, which examines the state of beauty in the world today, according to the organization’s recent press release announcing the study.

Report findings 

Perhaps the most notable conclusion drawn in the report is that “the outsized value society places on appearance has intensified the pressure to be a certain type of beautiful,” the release stated. As further quoted in the release, Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs, Research Psychologist at the Centre of Appearance Research at the University of West England and body image expert, explained that “despite 20 years of work to broaden definitions of beauty, women feel less confident in their own beauty than they did a decade ago.” 

According to the study, eight in ten women feel more pressure to be beautiful than they did just eight years ago. Moreover, nine in ten women and girls report being exposed to harmful beauty content online, underscoring the detrimental impact of digital media on self-esteem and body image.

Dove’s report also highlighted a concerning trend regarding the rise of AI-generated content: forecasting that up to 90% of online content will be AI-generated by next year, the potential impact on women’s mental and emotional well-being is sobering. 

The study acknowledged that there are potential benefits to integrating AI to foster greater accessibility in beauty, stating that “one in four women (24%) and almost two in five girls (41%) in the US agree that being able to create different versions of yourself using AI is empowering.” 

However, the report further revealed that many women feel pressured to modify or alter their appearance based on beauty standards established through AI-generated imagery, which could foster or enhance feelings of inadequacy or insecurity. As noted in the report, “One in three women feel pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even when they know the images are fake or AI-generated.”

Dove’s response 

In response to these findings, Dove has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting diversity, inclusivity, and authenticity in beauty by “becoming the first beauty brand to commit to never using AI in place of real people in its advertising,” said the release. 

In addition to this pledge, the company has developed the Real Beauty Prompt Guidelines, providing “easy to use guidance on how to create images that are more representative of Real Beauty on the most popular generative AI programs, for anyone that chooses to explore this new technology,” the release confirmed. 

As further quoted in the release, Alessandro Manfredi, Dove’s Chief Marketing Officer, explained that the company is seeking “a future in which women get to decide and declare what real beauty looks like—not algorithms,” and “as we navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with new and emerging technology, we remain committed to protecting, celebrating, and championing Real Beauty.”

For example, The Code campaign initiative features a diverse cast of empowering women, including Reba McEntire and Drew Barrymore, to “reflect the impact of AI on beauty and shed light on the importance of women having the power to see real beauty reflected in new and emerging media.​” 

Moving forward, the release concluded, “Dove will continue to stand for ‘real’” by continuing its platform of authenticity in media and advertising to “never stop championing better representation, taking action to break beauty stereotypes, and standing up for the power of Real Beauty.” 

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