This Powerful New Campaign from Dove Is Tackling the Media’s Sexist Portrayal of Female Athletes

Dove is back with another bold campaign.

Just in time for RIO16, this time, the focus is on female athletes.

Have you ever noticed a difference on the magazine covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN in the way in which the male and the female athletes are shown?

Dove did.

In fact, the forward-thinking skincare brand says that 64 per cent of females athletes featured are shown in passive poses (i.e. glamour and sexualized shots), while men are shown in action-oriented imagery that emphasizes their skill.

Dove says that the media often reference women in ways that can diminish their accomplishments in favour of their physical appearance, particularly when it comes to female athleticism.

Not that they had to tell you that.


To address this issue, Dove is launching a live billboard in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square to broadcast real-time commentary from media outlets in several English-speaking countries that spotlight a female athlete’s appearance over her achievements.

But it’s not just Toronto that’s involved: The billboard is part of a 4-week global interactive campaign online at that launched today. It will enable consumers to see commentary and to have their say by tweeting at media outlets that choose to focus on women’s appearance versus performance.

The campaign kicks off with Dove Canada spokespeople Tessa Virtue and Canadian model Winnie Harlow.

Virtue and Harlow join the Dove team to encourage people to take a stand and join the conversation both in real-life and online through the hashtag #MyBeautyMySay.

Of course, simultaneously, media commentary where women are judged by looks over achievements will be increasingly prevalent in the coming weeks when the spotlight turns to female athletes performing on a global stage.

Indeed, it will be interesting to see how the female athletes are portrayed in Rio and how many people actually take notice thanks to a growing, powerful collective dialogue like this one.


The billboards continue the Dove #MyBeautyMySay campaign, launched in June, to inspire and empower women to stand up to judgments about the way they look.