screen shot of photo schoot

Watch: Parody video skewers Dove-style ‘femvertising’ trend

This parody promo for an ad company devoted to “empowering women through advertising,” created by Canadian agency John St., offers a funny, biting critique of the so-called “femvertising” trend — epitomized by Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign  — that has become so popular in recent years. 

As we’ve explored before, as long as we live in a capitalist, consumer culture, there are things worth appreciating about this “girl power” trend in advertising. It’s certainly preferable to the slew of blatantly sexist ads that remain a staple of the marketing industry. I was glad, for example, that Always’s tear-jerking #LikeAGirl ad ran during the SuperBowl. And I’d be happy for the fictional “All hair is beautiful” campaign in the video to replace the real Veet’s “Body hair will literally turn you into a dude” one.

But as Alexandra has written of Dove’s brand of self-esteem boosting, such faux-empowerment may make you feel a little better about yourself today, “but doesn’t help create a better world.” And this spoof highlights how fine the line between empowerment and exploitation can be when companies are still relying on targeting women’s insecurities in order to “sell more stuff.” “They may not even know they have these insecurities,” one agency exec explains, “so it’s really important that we dig them up.”

If anyone has time to add a transcript in the comments, I’d be grateful!

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation