Artificial beauty: Warning of threats to girls’ self-esteem, Dove recommits to never using AI in ads

The beauty company also released the results of its survey of perceptions of beauty: ‘Unrealistic images’

As experts predict that 90% of online content could be generated by artificial intelligence by the year 2025, a major beauty brand is taking a stand against the use of AI in advertising.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the launch of its "Campaign for Real Beauty," Dove has restated its commitment to never using AI to represent real people in ads for its products.

"At Dove, we seek a future in which women – not algorithms – get to decide and declare what real beauty looks like," said Alessandro Manfredi, chief marketing officer for Dove, in a statement provided to FOX Business.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE EXPERTS SHARE 6 OF THE BIGGEST AI INNOVATIONS OF 2023: 'A LANDMARK YEAR'

"As we navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with new and emerging technology, we remain committed to protecting, celebrating and championing real beauty."

"Pledging to never use AI in our communications is just one step. We will not stop until beauty is a source of happiness, not anxiety, for every woman and girl."

Beauty ideals

"AI creates unrealistic images that breed an environment that makes it hard for girls and teens to be able to discern between what is real and what isn’t," an expert said. (iStock / iStock)

As part of the 20th anniversary of its Real Beauty campaign, Dove also did a study on perceptions of beauty around the world.

The company surveyed 2,001 respondents between ages 18 and 64 (897 women and 934 men) and 764 respondents between 10 and 17 years of age (496 girls and 250 boys).

WEDDING PLANNING COMPANY LAUNCHES AI TOOL TO HELP COUPLES ‘SPLIT THE DECISIONS’ FOR THEIR SPECIAL DAY

Although progress has been made compared to 20 years ago in terms of women feeling "better represented" by the advertising industry, the survey found that "there is still work to do," Dove reported.

One in three women (39%) feel pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even when they know it’s fake or AI-generated, the survey found.  

Nearly nine in 10 women and girls (85%) reported that they have been exposed to "harmful beauty content" online. 

Girl looking in mirror

"Keeping beauty real means protecting and supporting young girls and teens," an expert said. (iStock / iStock)

More than one in three women (36%) said they would give up at least a year of their life to achieve their beauty ideals.

Also, more than one in five women (21%) would give up five years of their life to achieve their ideal appearance.

‘Keeping beauty real’

FOX Business spoke with Stacy Nadeau, a Chicago-based model who appeared in the original Dove campaign and is now a parent and leadership coach, about the potential threats AI poses to females, especially girls and teens. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UL UNILEVER PLC 56.15 -0.23 -0.41%

"AI creates unrealistic images that breed an environment that makes it hard for girls and teens to be able to discern between what is real and what isn’t," Nadeau said. 

"AI can perpetuate impossible beauty standards to which girls and teens compare themselves."

Dove's 2004 campaign Real Beauty

To mark the 20th anniversary of the launch of its "Campaign for Real Beauty," Dove has restated its commitment to never using AI to represent real people in ads for its products. (Dove / Fox News)

"Young girls and teens might feel as though they can never meet these unrealistic expectations, and that’s because they can’t — they aren’t real," she continued. 

"It's so important for them to see real images and real women."

Nadeau, who has a teenage son, said she and her husband have worked hard to teach him to "use his own discernment" when it comes to consuming online media.

"We seek a future in which women – not algorithms – get to decide and declare what real beauty looks like."

The teen girls she works with experience the most negative effects, Nadeau noted.

"Their self-esteem is negatively impacted when they constantly compare themselves to digitally distorted images they see on social media — and with AI, this will get worse," she predicted. 

"Keeping beauty real means protecting and supporting young girls and teens."

Mother and daughter

To parents of daughters, an expert advised having "open and honest conversations" about the negative impacts AI and digital distortion can have.  (Dove / Fox News)

The first step to combating the problem is "acknowledging digital distortion," according to Nadeau.

"Transparency in AI use and ensuring that the AI is learning diverse versions of beauty is the only way to protect young people and their self-esteem as technology continues to evolve," she said.

MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT ISSUES WARNING TO PEOPLE TURNING TO AI THERAPISTS: 'NOT A REPLACEMENT' FOR HUMANS

To parents of daughters, Nadeau recommended having "open and honest conversations" about the negative impacts AI and digital distortion can have. 

"Educating young people and helping them own their own sense of esteem and confidence is vital," she said.

Balancing benefits and risks

Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich, a New York-based plastic surgeon, weighed in on the impact of artificial intelligence on the beauty industry.

"As a facial plastic surgeon, I recognize the powerful impact of AI on beauty advertising and its potential effects on girls' and women's self-esteem," he told FOX Business. 

"I hope that AI will soon promote authenticity and embrace the unique beauty of every individual."

"While AI offers incredible tools to enhance images, it's essential to remember that it is an artificial power that creates unrealistic standards."

The surgeon emphasized that it's crucial for the industry to use AI responsibly, as it can be a "dangerous tool."

"I hope that AI will soon promote authenticity and embrace the unique beauty of every individual," he added.

Girl reading beauty magazine

"While AI offers incredible tools to enhance images, it's essential to remember that it is an artificial power that creates unrealistic standards," a plastic surgeon warned. (iStock / iStock)

Harvey Castro, a Dallas-based emergency medicine physician and national speaker on AI in health care, pointed out that AI offers "groundbreaking opportunities" to personalize beauty products and marketing campaigns, but urged caution.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

"AI enables beauty brands to create highly personalized advertising experiences by analyzing vast amounts of data on consumer preferences and behavior," Castro told FOX Business. 

"This allows for targeted product recommendations and advertisements that resonate more deeply with individual consumers. Furthermore, AI can simulate the effects of skincare products or makeup on a user's image, providing a virtual ‘try before you buy’ experience that enhances consumer satisfaction and confidence in their purchases."

Girl body image

"AI might favor images that fit narrow, often unattainable beauty norms, which can exacerbate issues with self-esteem and body image among consumers," an AI expert warned. (iStock / iStock)

Castro added, however, that AI poses the risk of setting "unrealistic beauty standards." 

"AI might favor images that fit narrow, often unattainable beauty norms, which can exacerbate issues with self-esteem and body image among consumers," he warned.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

To reduce these risks, Castro called for the beauty industry to implement "robust ethical guidelines and transparency in AI use."

"Consumer education about how AI is used in advertising and the implications of data sharing are essential to ensuring trust and empowering informed choices," he added.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews/lifestyle.