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Dove model: Embrace your real beauty

Laura McCrystal | Friday, February 27, 2009

Women of all ages must end negative thoughts about their bodies and embrace their real beauty, Stacy Nadeau, one of six Dove models who appeared in her underwear on a billboard in New York’s Times Square in 2005, told Notre Dame students in a talk Thursday night.

Nadeau said she travels the country sharing her experience as a Dove model in order to empower women to embrace their real beauty and reject images promoted by the media.

“Beauty is what the media shows us,” Nadeau said. “And what does the media show us? Thin models. Airbrushed figures.”

She got involved in the Dove Campaign to promote “real women with real curves” when her friend signed her up for a modeling audition against her will in 2004.

At the time, Nadeau, a size 10, was a student at DePaul University in Chicago. She said after her initial reluctance, she participated in six months of auditions before she was chosen as one of the six Dove girls to for billboards and magazine ads in the Real Beauty Campaign.

The Campaign began when Dove conducted a survey that asked women if they felt comfortable calling themselves beautiful, and found that only two percent responded yes, Nadeau said.

“Dove had the truth and it was their obligation to do something about it,” she said. “Our mission became to make women take care of themselves and aspire to be their absolute best.”

Nadeau did not anticipate the outpouring of positive responses she received once the billboard went up in Times Square. Both the models and the Dove representatives were anxious because no company had ever done anything like it, she said.

“We are actually changing women,” Nadeau said. “We are actually changing culture. We are actually changing media.”

After Dove launched the advertising campaign, Nadeau and the five other models traveled the country and appeared on talk shows, including Oprah, to share their stories and talk about the media’s impact on body image.

“We had to be the change we wanted to see,” she said.

The Dove Self-Esteem Fund began to promote positive body image in younger girls, Nadeau said. When the models appeared on the Today Show and said one dollar would be given to the fund that for every click on the Dove Web site, the site crashed 15 minutes later.

Nadeau said she wants to raise awareness about the manipulation of body image through airbrushed and unhealthy models.

“What kind of messages are we sending to women when we say we need to airbrush you so you’re good enough?” she said. “The definition of beauty we see everyday is 125 percent fake.”

Nadeau understands that it is hard for women to be comfortable in their bodies. She admitted that even she sometimes has negative thoughts about her body.

“I work out. I maintain a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle and I am a size 10,” she said. “Negative thinking needs to stop.”

Nadeau also encouraged women to be friends to each other by refusing to discuss body image and by referring friends to professional help at signs of eating disorders or other dangerously obsessive behavior.

“We are our own worst enemy,” she said. “Today starts accepting the flaws you think you have.”