Global interactive campaign invites Canadians to call out media who focus on a female athlete's looks over her accomplishments

TORONTO, July 26, 2016 /CNW/ - Too often, media reference a woman's appearance in a way that can diminish her accomplishments and chip away at her confidence and hold her back.

An analysis* of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine covers found 64% of female athletes featured are shown in passive poses, such as glamour and sexualized shots, while the majority (61%) of men are portrayed in action-oriented imagery emphasizing their skill in their respective sport athletic forms.1

Media commentary where women are judged by looks over achievements will be increasingly prevalent in the coming weeks with the spotlight put on female athletes performing on a global stage, the effects of which could have a lasting impact. The Dove Global Beauty Confidence Report found nearly three quarters (74%) of Canadian women believe the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty most women can never achieve. Eight in 10 (81%) Canadian women wish the media did a better job of portraying women with diverse physical appearance, and of varying age, race, shape and size.

To call attention to the issue and to encourage people everywhere to take a stand and change the conversation, today Dove is launching a global interactive campaign to call out comments in the media that can belittle a female athlete's achievements.

A centerpiece of the campaign are animated public billboards in Toronto (Yonge-Dundas Square at Yonge and Edward), New York City and Los Angeles that will broadcast select real-time commentary from media outlets in several English-speaking countries that spotlight a female athlete's appearance over her achievements. This media commentary will be fed to the billboards by a real-time online aggregator that enables consumers to view it online and to tweet at media that belittle women.

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 and to overcome the beauty limits holding them back.

Have your say

Media and consumers are invited to play a part in the campaign:

  • Dove is challenging Canadian media outlets to continue to tell the story of our female athletes through their achievements and not through their appearances alone to avoid appearing on the billboards over the coming weeks.
  • Dove is inviting Canadians to have a say in this conversation by visiting the real-time online aggregator at and to tweet at media outlets who focus on a female athlete's appearance. They can also share their own experiences online about how they were judged by their appearance vs. their accomplishments, while using #MyBeautyMySay.

"We truly believe that Canadian media overall are much more likely to focus on a female athlete's accomplishments first and foremost, however, globally this is not the trend," says Diane Laberge, Marketing Director at Unilever Canada. "We cannot continue to ignore this type of commentary, so we are calling out media who choose to focus on a female athlete's appearance rather than on her athletic achievements."

Bringing the issue to life

As part of the campaign, Dove is working with Canadian champion ice dancer Tessa Virtue and model Winnie Harlow to bring the issue to life for Canadians. Tessa is sharing her story about the judgments she has received about her looks while pursuing her skating career. Winnie is helping show how this issue extends beyond sports and can touch women in many walks of life.

"Judgments on the basis of looks is clearly something most women in my industry have had to confront at some point," says Winnie, "however it's an issue that can touch girls and women who tackle almost any endeavour, especially when it puts them under any kind of public scrutiny."

Sidebar: Tessa's story in her own words

Be thinner, they said. Don't eat. Coming from a sport with an emphasis on aesthetics, it has been important for me to embrace the subjectivity that accompanies artistry, while negating superficial and derogatory critiques. I'm really looking forward to engaging in honest and meaningful discussions with Dove Canada on the issues of self-esteem, defying critics, and what it truly means to feel confident. Because let's face it, all women are judged too often on their looks instead of their accomplishments.

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About Dove and the Dove Self-Esteem Project

The Dove Self-Esteem Project is a global Dove initiative that was first established as part of The Campaign for Real Beauty. Its mission is to educate and encourage the next generation of girls to build a positive relationship with beauty and to help raise self-esteem, enabling them to realize their full potential in life. It is one of the only projects in Canada dedicated to the self-esteem of women and girls. For more information visit and for self-esteem resources visit

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products with sales in more than 190 countries. In Canada, our portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe®, Becel®, Ben & Jerry's®, Breyers®, Clear®, Degree®, Dove® personal care products, Fruttare®, Hellmann's®, Klondike®, Knorr®, Lipton®, Magnum®, Nexxus®, Ponds®, Popsicle®, Q-Tips®, Simple®, St. Ives®, TRESemmé®, Vaseline® and others. All of the preceding brand names are owned or used under license by Unilever Canada Inc.  


1 Covering women's sport? An analysis of Sports Illustrated covers from 1987-2009 and ESPN The Magazine covers from 1998-2009; Adam Martin, Mary G. McDonald (link to full study -


Image with caption: "An animated billboard launches today from Dove in Toronto (Yonge-Dundas Square), New York City and Los Angeles that will broadcast real-time commentary from media outlets in several English-speaking countries that spotlight a female athlete's appearance over her achievements in the coming weeks. Anyone can participate in the campaign via an online aggregator (CNW Group/Dove)". Image available at:

For further information: or to arrange an interview with Diane Laberge, Tessa Virtue or Winnie Harlow, contact: Marion Morris, Harbinger, (416) 960-5100 x260,

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