Dove’s New 'Body Type' Bottles Will Give You Body-Image Panic Attacks In The Shampoo Aisle

Photo: Dove
dove real beauty

These “Real Beauty Bottles" offer a painful reminder that you have a body ‘type’.

For years, I've loved Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign. For a cosmetics brand to not just openly acknowledge that women's bodies are different but to celebrate that fact? That's just not something that happened. Outside of ads for Lane Bryant, it was only in Dove campaigns where I stood a chance of seeing women who looked anything like me, ample, fleshy, happy women.

You know, fat women who didn't hate themselves. It was a quiet little revolution and I loved it. 


I can't say that I felt the same way about their new campaign. Created by Ogilvy in the UK, it's called "Real Beauty Bottles". The idea is that rather than all of the products coming in the same kind of packaging, Dove will now release them in a vast array of shapes and sizes. 

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You know, so you can buy your body wash according to your body type. Because that's what the world needs, one more opportunity to remind you that your body has a type, and you need to behave accordingly. They released the following statement about their campaign:

“Each bottle evokes the shapes, sizes, curves and edges that combine to make every woman their very own limited edition. They’re one of a kind–just like you. But sometimes we all need reminding of that. Recent research from the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report revealed that one in two women feels social media puts pressure on them to look a certain way.

Thankfully, many women are fighting with us to spread beauty confidence.”

Talk about a swing and a miss! I can absolutely appreciate the idea that Dove is trying to promote: we're all different, we have different bodies and skin and hair and they all need different things to keep them feeling healthy, shiny, bright, and nourished. 

However, releasing a line of products that's divided according to body type doesn't promote how awesome our differences are, it just reminds women that our bodies aren't unique beautiful things to be proud of, but types that fall into a category of "acceptable" "desirable" or "not". 


Yesterday, I was in day two of a depressive episode. The fact that I got out of bed was, frankly, miraculous. The fact that I managed to lug myself to the gym, verging on unbelievable. When I was done, I went to the local CVS to pick up a new body wash. I wanted a smell that would comfort me and lift me up. I wanted something that would feed my skin and soul. If I had walked into that store and found that body washes were now arranged in bottles by body type I don't think I would have been able to shower ever again.

When you're a person with depression, self-care is paramount.

Showering can be hard to do, but it's also essential. It's a reminder that you are a living being worthy of love and respect and care.

Being forced in a depressed state to choose between a bottle shaped like what my body is supposed to look like and what it does look like is too terrible to consider. 

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By picking a bottle to match your shape, you aren't just announcing how you see yourself to yourself, because you then have to go to a clerk and say "this is how I see myself." By making women choose a shape you are making a woman do her best to fit into one category, a category designed not by how her body moves or feels but by how it looks.

It's no different than they insidious "dressing for your body type" articles. It's a way of thinking that masquerades as building your confidence but really only serves to undermine your self-esteem, reminding you that what's on the inside doesn't matter at all to the world at large: it's what on the outside that counts.