Elder Media in St. Paul
The "Problem" With Elders

N*ked Older Women

A couple of years ago, Dove cosmetics made a PR splash by using chubby women in their underwear who were older than 20 - but not by too much - to advertise their products. It was a pleasant departure from the skinny, drop-dead, fantasies of beauty we are accustomed to seeing in any and all ads, but it was hardly the cultural revolution Dove wanted us to believe it was.

Now Dove has launched a new campaign. The tagline alone – “This isn’t anti-age. This is pro age.” – is worth the attention. Anyone who takes on the phony-baloney anti-aging industry has my vote.

The new print and video commercials show several 50-plus, real (non-professional models) women in their birthday suits – head shots, super close-ups, wide shots – in all their varying sizes and glory. And it is glorious to see the varieties of elder women bodies. Here is the German version of the commercial from YouTube.

The English-language version – at the Dove website – is identical except for the language. The print ads, if you have missed them, are here.

For the past three years, Dove has commissioned a Global Study on Aging, a survey of opinions about aging women from aging women in nine countries. Some highlights from the most recent, 2006 report [pdf]:

  • 57 percent believe that if magazines were reflective of a population, a person would likely believe women older than 50 do not exist.
  • 69 percent aged 50 to 64 agree that aging is often hidden rather than celebrated by women.
  • 91 percent believe the media and advertising need to do a better job of representing realistic images of women older than 50.
  • 75 percent believe anti-aging ads often portray unrealistic images of women older than 50 using those products.

This excellent survey, with a forward by Dr. Robert Butler of the International Longevity Center, covers many more topics about women and age, and is worth a read. Or there is a good short version with quotes from a couple of the models at The Hamilton Spectator.

Undoubtedly some will see the news story in the Spectator (and on this blog) as an unpaid advertisement, but I think it is newsworthy when a company takes a turn from the commonplace and asks us to look at women’s bodies realistically, to help push the culture toward acceptance of the changes brought on by the passage of time.

What do you think of the ads and the commercial? Should more products aimed at older women be as honest in their portrayal of women? Would you think better of the products if they did? More likely to purchase them? It would be interesting to hear some men’s point of view too.

[PS: Do you think Dove cosmetics and Dove chocolates are the same company? Heh, heh, heh. Just kidding.]


I believe there should be more products aimed at the older people in this world, and thus more ads for them. As the "boomer" generation ages, our population will be made of older adults.
There are some products that are aimed at older women now, and I support them with my purchases (I am thinking of cosmetics).
I never thought my skin/body would change so much, and I would appreciate products that meet my needs!

I for one will most certainly try these products. Just because I'm growing older doesn't mean I have to put up with dry skin that looks lousy. It (dove products) couldn't hurt. Dee

Just this morning, I noticed a commercial for Kraft Mayo which featured a 50-ish woman with shoulder length hair that was all gray (white) making a sandwich for her male partner--who had wrinkles and gray hair. Loved it!

Did you ever get to see the calendar produced by the Rylstone WI members in North Yorkshire ?




I think that the media, and advertising in particular, is so powerful and all-encompassing, that anything it does will influence 'real life'. I think Dove has broken some new ground. Granted, they wouldn't have done it if their focus group studies said they would not sell more soap by doing it, but I believe the effect will be far-reaching. With so many older folks in the (English-speaking) population, Dove and other companies will have a very appreciative audience to market their products to, using older models and 'messages' that appeal to older people.

Very much a giant leap for advertisers. Yeah, it's only a skin care commercial, but hopefully this is a sign of change.

Not to belittle the beautiful Cindy Crawford, but if I have to watch her sashsay and be sexually suggestive on another red couch for yet another Rooms To Go television spot, I might just heave my own worn-out sagging sofa right into the screen.

Wake up Ad Gurus - go watch a Dove skin care commercial!

I can see myself now crawling into bed with some good-looking twenty or thirty year old and having her comment on how good I look naked at age sixty-five, but then having to remind her to “hold that thought” realizing she may have to get up later in the night and go shower again because I peed in the bed…..you know, urinary incontinence!

Wrinkles….yours or mine the least of my concern. Last year I started having to pull up my pants all the time because my butt disappeared. What the hell is that all about? Has Dove got something that I can use to get my butt back?

I loved that ad. It drives me crazy when they run these ads for skin products to help with lines or wrinkles and use a 30 year old (if that) model to illustrate them. It's great that one company now uses Diane Keaton. More should use women who are actually old enough to need the products. It might mean something

L'Oreal have just started advertising a product in the West Midlands (UK) for men to use to prevent their skin aging. They show a model with skin taughter than my 30 year old son's, and have used grey make up to present a few 'wrinkles' in the laughter creases. The model is supposed to have skin this good at 58. My question: since they have only just invented the product in question, who has used it long enough to prove it does anything at all? It may even be as 'useful' as paint stripper in the long term.

We are so afraid to surrender power over the advancing tide of the years but the power is illusory no matter how much we invest. I met an 80 year old lady last night, with soft, slightly wrinkled skin and the pleasant demeanour of one very much at home in her own skin. She is a Quaker. Beauty is more than skin deep.

They weren't "chubby" women...they were normal women.

Heck, this society has such a phobia about nakedness in general that we have no idea what anybody actually looks like. Even these ads are all made up with their cellulite removed and they are too perfect to be real.

Selling fake "beauty" over real beauty is never going to appeal to me. You're better off putting olive oil on your skin that Dove products anyway.

Bravo! I hate shopping since most retailers believe I am interested in hip hugging, navel baring, boob showing clothing. It is nice to see advertisers steering away from the great unwashed younger then 30 generation that has no bearing on what I want to look like. I have resorted to making my own personal adornments since I can't find what I want anymore...maybe they (advertisers) are figuring out that the young don't have a much money as the old. Yikes!

I like these ads very much and I applaud the women who posed for them. I could pose, but they'd have to airbrush a lot!

Hmm. I don't consider 55 "old." When I was 55, I was ballroom dancing and wearing short skirts. I guess I could have easily posed for one of those shots. Now that I'm getting close to 70, I'm thinking that NOW, I'm getting old and succumbing to gravity. I'd like to see models over 70. I'm sure they're out there.

Per one of your links, a famous photographer took "most of the photographs" and said "none of them have been retouched." Sounds good to me.

To answer your questions:
I like the print ads and the commercial -- would like to see more women in the group older than those pictured, but it's a beginning.

As for more honesty in ads -- ABSOLUTELY -- a refreshing change.
Marketers and ad people might just want to give it a try 'cause they're not going to sell me otherwise.

Congrats to Dove for their study -- more of the same could be enough to cause me to consider the possibility of using their products.

One day I realized that wrinkles don't matter to me anymore. Is that being comfortable in your own skin? Ha!
All I care about now is hoping that my keratoses don't become malignant. If Dove could prevent that from happening I would slather myself in it.

I've laughed reading some of these comments referencing the purchase or not of the products. In watchng the commercial, thinking about and writing this post, I never once considered the purpose of the commercials - buying Dove products. I saw it onlhy as a media event that may or may not be fair to elders.

I use the few products I like and Dove has never been among them. The soap and lotion, which I tried many years ago, feel greasy to me, so Dove is just not on my radar. Whether I like the commercials or not, I doubt it would affect by buying habits.

I hadn't seen these - maybe not in UK, though the products are? They're lovely. They look recogniseably just like me and my friends, in our 50s. They don't, of course, even touch the same issues on behalf of 60, 70, 80 and 90+ year-olds.

Since I am, apparently, the last person on the planet that does not do YouTube, I wasn't able to view the commercials. However, I have two words regarding beauty and skin care products: Petroleum Jelly. 1) It doesn't cost as much as these other products. 2) You put a thin layer all over your face first thing in the morning and do it again before bed. It penetrates into your skin and makes it feel good. 3) It's great for removing makeup.
That's it. You don't need all of those other overpriced "beauty" products.

A small step in the right direction, to be sure. And a great marketing campaign. Not that I would touch the products with a ten-foot pole, since they are chock-full of chemicals, (some of which, e.g. the parabens, are reputed to be carcinogenic) and probably tested on animals (I couldn't see a disclaimer about that on their website, though I didn't do an exhaustive search).
So I'll stick with organic olive oil and fair-trade shea butter, thanks. But I enjoyed the video and I like the 'pro-age' slogan.

You may be interested in the cover story in this week's Barrons about marketing to the over 50 age group. It's titled "Geezer Power."

Jamie Lee Curtis did an article for More magazine a few years back that showed her - sans make-up, real tummy and all - and then after the professionals had "touched her up." We all age & she was gracious enough to show she was "one of us" after all!

Google "Jamie Lee Curtis True Thighs" to see the article.

I agree that these beautiful models are not chubby. They represent many more of us than the 6' tall, size 2 model who is 15 years old. I remember when it hadn't dawned on me that I would get old. There are a lot of advertisers who are probably still in that category. They are not only young, they are naive. Why do we let them affect our self image?

The Dove commercials are only a baby step. Since they are, afterall, a cosmetic company,the unavoidable underlying premise is still trying to avoid looking older. I like the idea in the Kraft mayo commercial, which I have not seen) that we are an active participating-in-life person whatever our age.

I am a beautiful almost 63 yr old female. This is my 8th time writing to Dove and other company about MY well-kept body and looks, and i get the compliments almost daily. I have been using Dove 's soap and other products since I left(moved) Conn. in 1979, because my skin was not use to this humid weather, and it makes me simply georgous,I need to be on TV or a book cover, trust me, i need someone to see me and check out ME. SINCE I GOT NONE OF THE 8 REPLYS, I STARTED TO DISCONTINUE, but it works to darn well, also, i bet you money, i have turned on more than 2 dozs women on your product, because they ask... what are you doing to your face? are you wearing make-up? and they say; your legs and arms and feet and thighs looks like you are 45 yrs old or younger. I simply say... its the Dove, morning and night. Someone need to call me or I need to stop advertising your product, with no SUPPORT OR ANYTHING,not even a simple say; HEY YOU GO GIRL! S. MAT-WIL

Dove soap vs Dove chocolate.

While you can't eat a bar of Dove soap, you can certainly cover your body with Dove chocolate.

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