Body Shop – Ruby

“In 1998, The Body Shop debuted its self-esteem campaign, featuring the generously proportioned doll we dubbed “Ruby.” Her rubenesque figure graced windows in The Body Shop windows in the UK that year, along with our slogan, “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.” She went on to appear in stores in Australia, Asia, and the United States, where she captured the imaginations of consumers weary of the rail-thin heroin-chic of the beauty industry’s advertising messages. Ruby was a fun idea, but she carried a serious message. She was intended to challenge stereotypes of beauty and counter the pervasive influence of the cosmetics industry, of which we understood we were a part. Perhaps more than we had even hoped, Ruby kick-started a worldwide debate about body image and self-esteem”

The image of Ruby was closer to the average woman’s body and, I think by including it in an advert would have helped to kick-start body positivity movements earlier and perhaps combated the medias pressure on girls to conform to one body shape. The adverts slogan highlights how unachievable the ‘ideal’ supermodel body is and by saying there are “3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels” it helps to make the viewer feel more comfortable with their body as there are many women in the same position.

The advert was pulled as “Ruby was not universally loved. In the United States, the toy company Mattel sent us a cease-and-desist order, demanding we pull the images of Ruby from American shop windows. Their reason: Ruby was making Barbie look bad, presumably by mocking the plastic twig-like bestseller”.  

It is often said that the Barbie doll gives an unrealistic standard of beauty to girls, the doll has unnatural proportions that are not achievable by the human body “Analysis by rehabilitation website has shown that, if she were a real person, Barbie would have to walk on all fours due to her size three feet, and would be incapable of lifting her enormous head with her tiny little neck. Her 16-inch waist, meanwhile, would leave her with room for just half a liver and a few inches of intestines.”  butts since girls often play with these dolls from a young age could the dolls unrealistic body be influencing the body image of young girls? In 2006 a study was done by the University of Sussex that concluded that girls exposed to the Barbie doll showed higher levels of body dissatisfaction, and low body esteem whereas girls given the Emme Doll which had more natural proportions showed no/little difference to the control group.

The Body Shop’s Ruby figure, I think, somewhat showed Barbie up as being an unrealistic representation of the female body as it was more natural looking and the character gave off an aura of confidence and a ‘love yourself’ attitude.  The advert is successful using a doll as although an image of a real woman may have been a more straight up example of an average size body, using the doll meant that they could get away with more of the body being exposed.


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