• Written by Reporter


In light of this and to mark 20 years of the Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove renews its commitment to ‘real’ 

Australia, 27th June 2024– 20 years ago, Dove took pioneering steps to showcase real beauty with its Campaign for Real Beauty. In 2004, it revealed a startling truth; only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful. Since then, the Campaign for Real Beauty has challenged society, media and the beauty industry itself to change its representation of women, be transparent about digital distortion and face-up to the harmful impact unrealistic beauty standards have on women and girls. 

To mark 20 years of the Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove conducted a sweeping study of beauty around the world to understand how beauty impacts women and girls today. While there has been some positive change, the Australian state of beauty in 2024 isn’t pretty. 

According to the 2024 edition of "The Real State of Beauty: A Global Report," commissioned by Dove, a staggering 44% of Australian women express a willingness to sacrifice a year of their lives to attain societal beauty ideals, exceeding the global average of 38%. 

The study highlights an alarming trend where the checklist of beauty standards becomes increasingly unattainable, with statistics revealing that 80% of Australian women and 78% of Australian girls feel pressured to maintain a healthy appearance. Moreover, 75% of women and 67% of girls are under pressure to maintain a slim figure, while 68% of women and 61% of girls feel the burden of having a small waist. Adding to these figures, 2 out of 3 Australian women believe that contemporary expectations for physical attractiveness surpass those of previous generations. 

One of the biggest threats to the representation of real beauty is Artificial Intelligence. Today, more than 4 in 5 Aussie women say they have been exposed to harmful beauty content online. 

With 90% of online content predicted to be AI-generated by 2025*, the data shows the rise of AI is a threat to women’s wellbeing. 1 in 2 Aussie women feel pressured to alter their appearance based on online images, despite knowing they are often fake or AI-generated. Additionally, a significant majority recognize the prevalence of digitally altered images in the media, with 74% of Australian women and 68% of Australian girls acknowledging this reality. 

“As someone who has fought to redefine beauty standards, I’ve seen the harmful effects of unrealistic beauty ideals. AI-generated content only worsens this issue, bombarding us with unattainable images. Dove’s commitment to real beauty, refusing to use AI generated imitation humans in advertising and promoting transparency with the Real Beauty Prompt Guidelines are critical steps in protecting and celebrating authentic beauty.” comments CEO Bella Management, Chelsea Bonner, who is working in partnership with Dove.

Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs, Research Psychologist at the Centre of Appearance Research at the University of West England and body image expert, says that while AI has the potential to foster creativity and access to beauty, there is still a need for greater representation and transparency. In Australia, 1 in 4 women and 2 in 5 girls find creating different versions of themselves using AI empowering, yet almost half of women (45%) and over half of girls (54%) believe it can negatively impact their self-image. Without these improvements, AI risks perpetuating narrow and unrealistic beauty standards. 

“Despite 20 years of work to broaden definitions of beauty, women feel less confident in their own beauty than they did a decade ago.Representation is more important than ever. As AI technology continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is real beauty and what is manufactured by AI.” 

In its 20th year of Real Beauty/in response to the data, Dove has pledged to accelerate its efforts to champion transparency and diversity and take action to shatter beauty stereotypes in new and emerging media. As part of this, Dove is announcing its commitment to never using AI to represent real women in its ads. 

To help set new digital standards of representation in Australia, Dove has created its Real Beauty Prompt Guidelines - easy-to-use guidance for everyone on how to create images that are representative of Real Beauty on the most popular generative AI programs. 

“Dove has always stood for real beauty, and our commitment to never using AI in our ads underscores our dedication to authenticity. By introducing the Real Beauty Prompt Guidelines, we aim to foster a more inclusive and transparent approach to beauty in the digital age. It's our mission to uplift women and girls everywhere and ensure they see their true selves reflected in the media.” comments Tess Giordimaina Marketing Manager for Dove at Unilever. 

Dove’s new campaign, the Code, reflects the impact of AI on beauty and demonstrates the impact real beauty has made to change beauty for the better, 20 years and counting. 

The work Dove began in 2004 is far from over. Dove will never stop championing better representation, taking action to break beauty stereotypes, and standing up for the power of Real Beauty. We can’t drive change alone. Together, let’s change beauty.

About the new research: 2024 The Real State of Beauty: a global report 

Online survey conducted by Edelman DXI (Data x Intelligence), a global, multidisciplinary research, analytics, and data consultancy, in November / December 2023. This 25-minute survey was completed in 20 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, KSA, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Türkiye, the USA, and the UK. 

Researchers spoke with more than 33,000 respondents: 19,306 respondents aged between 18 to 64 years old (14,673 women, 3,776 men*) and 14,292 respondents aged 10 to 17 years old (9,475 girls, 4,753 boys*).

15 experts ranging from academic experts to consultants on body image and activists in the field were consulted on the research questions and outputs, and we ensured the survey was representative of various subgroups e.g. people with larger bodies, disabilities, mental health conditions, LGBTQ+ people and people of colour. 

All interviews were conducted in local languages and dialects, with only appropriate questions asked in each market and the methodology was consistent with the level of national online penetration required to avoid sampling bias. 

*Nina Schick, AI expert, prediction: With 90% of the content online predicted to be AI-generated by 2025. Source: Organize your life and...work with monday.com - the customizable work management platform (youtube.com) 

*Note: Other gender identities and non-binary respondents were surveyed but are not reported due to the limited sample sizes. 

About Dove Self Esteem Project 

The #KeepRealBeauty campaign is part of Dove’s long-standing commitment to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, and not anxiety. As the world’s leading provider of self-esteem education for girls, Dove continues to support girls wherever their self-esteem is at stake and ensure the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with how they look. Since 2004, Dove has reached over 100 million young people globally, in over 150 countries through the Dove Self-Esteem Project, with a goal of reaching 250M young lives by 2030. In Australia, The Dove Self-Esteem Project has reached 2 million Aussie kids since 2006 and aims to reach 2.2 million by the end of 2023. 



About Unilever 

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Nutrition and Ice Cream products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 3.4 billion people every day. We have 127,000 employees and generated sales of 59.6 billion in 2023. Unilever Australia and New Zealand is a Certified B Corporation – part of a global movement of businesses that aim to lead systems change to support an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy for all. For more information about Unilever and our brands, please visit: https://www.unilever.com.au/