The era of objectifying women and judging beauty based on one idealized standard ended a generation or two ago, at least in the public realm and polite society. But consumer advertising people are often the last to know, which may explain why many of them are taking a victory lap — some 20 years late — because of recent ad campaigns such as Dove “Real Beauty” and its progeny.
A few great examples of this recent trend: American Eagle “Real Girls” program
American Apparel’s use of senior models to promote lingerie.
The groundbreaking Mercy Academy “You are not a princess” program.
The new Betabrand clothing concept of including only women with Ph.D’s in their advertising.
The overall intention of all these campaigns is wonderful — encouraging women to feel good about themselves rather than bad, empowered rather than passive, in order to sell stuff. And if these marketing initiatives sometimes seem like they are trying too hard, protesting too much, and taking credit for what should be common decency and commonsense … well … perfect is the enemy of good and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Looking for more info on this movement: Getty Images has a terrific blogpost on the rejection of female stereotypes in advertising.