A reader tipped us to this Craigslist ad promoting a casting call for Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign, which prides itself on featuring non-models in order to expand the traditional definition of beauty. The casting call, however, veers from that mission:

DOVE "REAL WOMEN" PRINT CASTING JUNE 28-30, 2010 in NYC
ABSOLUTELY NO ACTRESSES / MODELS OR REALITY SHOW PARTICIPANTS or ANY ONE CARRYING A HEADSHOT!!!!
REAL WOMEN ONLY!
LOOKING FOR 3-4 REAL WOMEN for a DOVE PRINT CAMPAIGN!

AGES 35-45, CAUCASIAN, HISPANIC, AFRICAN AMERICAN, & ASIAN!

SHOOT: SUNDAY, JULY 18 in NYC! MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR THE SHOOT!
RATE: $500 for Shoot date & if selected for Ad Campaign (running 2011) you will be paid $4000!
USAGE: 3 years unlimited print & web usage in N. America Only

YOU WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED FOR THE CAMPAIGN IN A TOWEL!
BEAUTIFUL ARMS AND LEGS AND FACE WILL BE SHOWN!
MUST HAVE FLAWLESS SKIN, NO TATTOOS OR SCARS!
Well groomed and clean...Nice Bodies..NATURALLY, FIT Not too Curvy Not too Athletic.

Great Sparkling Personalities. Beautiful Smiles! A DOVE GIRL!!!
STYLISH AND COOL!
Beautiful HAIR & SKIN is a MUST!!!

PLEASE SUBMIT SNAPSHOTS of FACE & BODY ASAP & WE WILL CALL YOU IN FOR A CASTING NEXT WEEK 6/28-6/30 in NYC!

While the ad does call for "ABSOLUTELY NO ACTRESSES / MODELS OR REALITY SHOW PARTICIPANTS or ANY ONE CARRYING A HEADSHOT!!!! REAL WOMEN ONLY!" Its definition of "real women" (a loathsome term if ever there was one) is fairly narrow and does, in fact, adhere to typical beauty standards: the women looking to be cast must be "naturally fit," must have "flawless skin," be free of tattoos or scars, have "nice bodies," and, in case you missed it the first time, "beautiful hair and skin is a MUST!!!"

The emphasis on being "real" but also being totally flawless is somewhat hilarious and tragic, in that the entire point of the Dove campaign is to challenge the definition of the word "beauty." Asking women to show up with "beautiful hair and skin" implies that there is already a set standard for such things, and that Dove does not, in fact, want to deviate from said standard, even though their entire campaign promises to do so. There is something very gross about all of this, if this ad is legit, in that it speaks to a somewhat creepy trend of casting "real women" to represent "the rest of us" while still adhering to strict representations of what is traditionally considered beautiful.

The "no scars/tattoos" rule is particularly upsetting: god forbid we attempt to encourage society to view scars as something other than "flaws" or "imperfections" or look at body art as something unique and beautiful. The age range is suspect as well: why 35-45? Surely there are women above and below that age range who have a place in this campaign, aren't there? Or is this a very clear demographic marketing tactic? If Dove really wants to represent women in a non-traditional way, perhaps they should consider asking potential candidates to be "flawless" is just as fake and shady as trying to sell soap with an airbrushed picture of an actress or super model. The "Real Beauty" campaign is all about expanding what it means to be beautiful, and providing young girls with different role models in order to get them to challenge society's narrow vision when it comes to female beauty. It's a shame that their entire "come as you are" campaign seems to have an "if you're flawless, that is" clause attached. And while "real women" remains a problematic term in various ways, it's disappointing that Dove's definition of "real" seems to leave so many women, who perhaps have—gasp—a "flaw" or two—out of the picture, and out of the conversation they claim they're so intent on having.

Dove "Real Women" Print Casting [Craigslist]