Dove has launched a major self-esteem campaign, aimed at reaching 5 million young women by 2010. I’ve posted two of the commercials created by this campaign (Evolution and Onslaught).

The goals of Dove’s campaign are good:

The Dove Self-Esteem Fund (DSEF) was established to raise the self-esteem of girls and young women to make them feel more beautiful and confident every day. The DSEF is part of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, a global effort designed to widen today’s stereotypical view of beauty. A global project, the Fund consists of a network of local country initiatives linked in strategy and direction by a global steering group. In each country, the DSEF supports a specific charitable organization to help foster self-esteem.

There are parts of the campaign that I really like, like the commercials. They also have a series called the Dove Reality Diaries. This is a series of videos and blog posts by four teenage girls about the issues they face – mostly focusing on body-image-related issues. These diary entries (written and video) are real and realistic.

I am, mostly, supportive of what Dove is trying to do here. I think these videos and diaries have the potential to really touch many parents and teenage girls. The on-line tools for parents and for teenagers are interesting, and has some good parts to it. (I do wonder about the “cool” factor of the site for teenagers. I mean, how many girls who actually have self-esteem issues go looking for a site that will help boost it?)

But I have one huge, major, ginormous issue with every bit of the website itself. There are no images of teenage girls who are not skinny, clear-skinned beauties. The pictures of mothers are generally of real women. So where are the real teenage girls? I’m not suggesting that the girls in the pictures aren’t actually real, or that their stories are not true. Only that they don’t match up with the majority of teenage girls or the majority of teenage girls’ stories.

(I mean, common. One of the girls in the Diaries site is trying to fend off her mother from making her get a nose job for graduation. Another just moved to further her modeling career, and is morning her loss of friends. A third spends a full hour doing her make-up before she leaves the house every single day. She agonizes over her friends’ boyfriends liking her more than them. While these are all true stories, they are not true for the majority of teenage girls.)

So I hope that Dove continues with it’s campaign. And I hope that, with time, they bring far more realism into their stories and images.