Dove boycotts AI-generated beauty visuals – as new survey shows 9 in 10 women are exposed to ‘harmful beauty content online’

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Pop star Jessie J is working with the brand on its new campaign and has spoken out on the unachievable beauty ideals being propelled by new technology
Pop star Jessie J is working with the brand on its new campaign and has spoken out on the unachievable beauty ideals being propelled by new technology

Related tags Unilever AI Skin care

The personal care brand revealed more about its new marketing campaign that “reflects the impact of AI on beauty”, as its annual global survey reveals some worrying findings…

The Unilever beauty and personal care brand’s global annual survey The Real State of Beauty​ for 2024 has revealed a variety of new insights into the attitudes of women and girls toward beauty.

The global report is based on a digital survey with over 33,000 respondents in 20 different countries, both women and men, aged between 10 and 64.  

Dove has run the survey on an annual basis every year since 2004, but this year, the study showed that the checklist of “appearance ideals” has grown and that two out of three women surveyed said they believed that women today are expected to be more physically attractive than their mother's generation was – as society and technology progresses.

In fact, two out of five survey participants even said they would even give up a year of their life to achieve their ideal look or body.

Nine out of 10 women and girls also said they had been exposed to harmful beauty content online, and Dove said it believed AI to be “one of the biggest threats to the representation of real beauty.”

One in three women said they felt pressure to alter their appearance because of what they saw online, even if they knew an image was fake or AI-generated. 

"Despite 20 years of work to broaden definitions of beauty, women feel less confident in their own beauty than they did a decade ago," stated research psychologist at the Centre of Appearance Research at the University of West England, Dr Phillippa Diedrichs. 

"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."     

New marketing campaign  

In response to these findings, Dove has just released a new marketing campaign, The Code,​ which it said: “reflects the impact of AI on beauty and sheds light on the importance of women having the power to see real beauty reflected in new and emerging media.”

The brand is working in partnership on the campaign with celebrities like Jessie J, who said: "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.”

She continued: “Social media and emerging technology like AI are accelerating that pressure at an alarming rate. It's terrifying what it could do now and to 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."

Meanwhile, Dove’s chief marketing officer, Alessandro Manfredi, said that Dove has pledged that the brand will never use AI in its communications.

"At Dove, we seek a future in which women get to decide and declare what real beauty looks like – not algorithms. As we navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with new and emerging technology, we remain committed to protect, celebrate, and champion Real Beauty," she said.

"Pledging to never use AI in our communications is just one step. We will not stop until beauty is a source of happiness, not anxiety, for every woman and girl." 

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