The Evolution video: How images of beauty are manipulated by the media

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Watch the Evolution video to understand how easy it is for our perception of beauty to be manipulated and distorted. Then try our helpful action checklist to start a conversation with your daughter about real beauty.

Evolution: A 60-second journey into the distortion of real beauty

A 60-second video that takes us on a journey from real to retouched, this video illustrates just how clever lighting, make-up and digital manipulation distort our perceptions of beautiful women. Watch it and you’ll never look at a beauty ad in quite the same way again.

Why we created the Evolution video clip

It’s all too common for women to compare themselves to images of models, actresses and singers in the media – but are these images even real? With clever lighting, make-up and Photoshop, it is possible to completely transform an image so that it no longer reflects the shape, size or features of the original model. No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.

The Evolution video was created in 2007 and highlights the largely untold story of the journey from real to retouched. You may have seen before and after pictures of models elsewhere, but this video allows us to see the process involved as it happens.

The video proved so popular that it received more than 2 million views on YouTube in the first two weeks alone. Has your daughter seen it yet?

The positive outcome for girls of watching the Evolution video

The amazing news is that simply watching this film has been proven to boost teen girls’ body image. In 2011, researchers used the Dove Evolution video as part of a study investigating the power of music videos called Highlighting Media Modifications: Can a Television Commercial Mitigate the Effects of Music Videos on Female Appearance Satisfaction?

The test involved asking young women to watch five popular videos chosen because they used women who matched the thin and attractive “ideal”. Some viewers watched these alongside normal ads, some watched ads without people and some watched the Evolution ad. The result? Viewing music videos resulted in significantly lower levels of appearance satisfaction compared to viewing control television – however, watching the Evolution ad counteracted this effect.

Use the Evolution video and the action checklist below to start a conversation with your daughter and help her boost her own body image and confidence.

Action checklist:
Understanding how images of women are manipulated by media

Watch the Evolution video with your daughter: Share this video clip with your daughter. Even if she’s seen it before it’s worth watching together again. Talk about your reactions to it. Are there any changes in the process in particular that you didn’t know about? Are there any changes that really surprise you? How does it make you feel when you realise how much change happens to a picture of a woman in this process?

Look at other media with a critical eye: Look at some magazines or watch music videos with your daughter. Ask her whether she thinks the images she sees are real. Does she know how much money and how many people were involved in producing these static images or short films? Can you see any of the same tricks from the Evolution image being used here?

Broaden out the conversation: Talk to your daughter about whether she thinks images in the media are representative of the people she knows and loves. Would she like to see more real beauty in the media? What does real beauty mean to her?

What next: Action steps to help

  • Share this fun activity with your daughter – it’s a game of spot the difference between untouched and retouched images of women in the media.
  • Keep talking to your daughter about this subject. Challenge each other to see if you can spot altered images when you’re watching TV, browsing online or at the cinema.
  • Encourage your daughter to share the Evolution video with her friends. Perhaps it could be the basis of a project at school too?
  • Does your daughter have the confidence to contact her favorite magazine, website or clothes retailer to ask them about how they alter images of women?

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