Is Real Beauty at Risk? AI vs 20 Years of Dove

Dove’s commitment to authenticity extends beyond their actions to include influential voices like singer-songwriter Jessie J. As an ambassador for Dove, Jessie J shares her perspective on the importance of keeping beauty real in the age of artificial intelligence:

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It’s no secret that across the world, including the music industry, women, girls  and those who identify as non-binary, face a huge amount of pressure about  the way they look. The trends are ever changing and more intense and so it’s a  never-ending trap and box to fit in of what “beauty” is. It’s unhealthy, unrealistic,  and relentless. Social media and emerging technology like AI are accelerating  that pressure at an alarming rate. It’s terrifying what it could do to the now and  the future generations of young people trying to work out life and who they are.  That’s why I am honoured and passionate to be working with Dove to keep  beauty real and honest to who we are. I will continue to use my voice to  celebrate the diversity of all women.

Jessie J, Singer-Songwriter

As a parent deeply invested in my children’s well-being amidst the rise of artificial intelligence, I can’t shake off my concerns about its influence on their perception of beauty. It’s unsettling to witness the proliferation of AI-altered images across my social media feeds, creating unattainable standards that my children might feel pressured to conform to. My heart sinks when I hear them being teased for not fitting these unrealistic moulds, whether it’s about their weight or appearance. Despite my efforts to instill self-acceptance, the constant barrage of digitally manipulated images makes it an uphill battle.

Amidst these worries, there’s a glimmer of hope. Dove, a brand I’ve long admired (and used personally) for its commitment to promoting real beauty, has taken a stand against the use of AI in its advertisements. Way back in 2004 they conducted a survey which highlighted that only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful, and now to commemorate 20 years of their Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove reaffirms its dedication to authenticity.

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To mark 20 years of the Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove conducted a sweeping study  of beauty around the world to understand how beauty impacts women and girls today.  While there has been some positive change, the state of beauty in 2024 isn’t pretty. 

The outsized value society placed on appearance has intensified the pressure to be a certain type of beautiful. In its 2024 The Real State of Beauty: a global report, Dove finds 2-in-5 would  give up a year of their life to achieve an ideal look or body. The study shows that while beauty ideals have diversified over the years, the checklist is growing and impossible to meet – from looking healthy (79%) to also being slim (71%), having a small waist (66%) while also being curvy (55%). 2 in 3 women believe that women today are expected to be more physically attractive than their mother’s generation was.  

One of the biggest threats to the representation of real beauty is Artificial Intelligence.  Today, almost 9 in 10 women and girls 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: nearly half feel pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even when they know it’s fake or AI generated.

Last year, Lillie and I attended a powerful Dove event talking about the effects of social media on young teens. Unfortunately we were not able to make it to this year’s event due to prior engagements but this year’s message is a strong one and one that I am proud to support as a woman and a mother.

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Dove’s decision not to employ AI in their ads is a breath of fresh air in a digital landscape dominated by digitally altered images. Their initiative aligns with my belief in celebrating diversity and embracing flaws. Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs, a research psychologist, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of representation in combating the negative impact of AI-generated beauty standards.

Despite 20 years of work to broaden definitions of beauty, women feel less confident in their own beauty than they did a decade ago. Representation is more important than ever. As AI technology continues to  evolve, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is real beauty and what is manufactured by AI.

Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs

As Dove launches their new campaign, “The Code,” it serves as a reminder of the transformative power of real beauty. Their journey, spanning two decades, reflects a relentless pursuit of better representation and a commitment to challenging beauty stereotypes.

With Dove leading the way, I’m hopeful that we can redefine beauty standards and create a world where authenticity triumphs over artificiality.

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