Stacy Nadeau discusses her time in Dove’s campaign
It’s rare to see a “real” woman on a billboard — un-airbrushed and wearing very little makeup. Stacy Nadeau, who helped break that standard when appearing in Dove’s 2005 “Real Beauty” campaign, shared experiences and advice about healthy body image with students in the Russell House ballroom Tuesday night. Her presentation was one of several events planned for Carolina Beautiful Week, USC’s effort in improving body image on campus, and was sponsored by Carolina Productions, Changing Carolina and Student Health Services.
Nadeau said she was an “average student” before taking part in the Dove campaign. She attended DePaul University in Chicago, Ill. where she was a double major, a resident mentor, served as president of a business fraternity and was employed part-time at a salon. A talent agent followed her on the street and approached her about auditioning for the campaign. At her first audition, Nadeau posed for four photographs in her underwear. “Sounds like a bad Lifetime movie waiting to happen,” she said. After leaving the audition, Nadeau told her friend that they would never speak of it again.
She was wrong. Nadeau was one of six girls picked for the campaign. The first ad appeared on a billboard in Times Square. Dove’s publicist placed an ad in local papers inviting people to come meet the Dove girls at the billboard launch and get a free gift bag. People lined 10 city blocks to meet the models. Dove only made 15 gift bags.
Before the campaign launched, Nadeau and the other models were warned that they may receive bad press for appearing in the ad. No other company had ever used real, ordinary women in a national campaign, so featuring six women in only their underwear, “flaws and all” was a bold move. America’s response was mostly positive. The girls appeared on CNN, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tyra Banks Show, The Today Show and twice on Oprah. They spoke to many women and young girls who said their lives had been changed by the campaign. Nadeau met one woman whose daughter was battling anorexia in a rehabilitation clinic. The woman made hundreds of copies of the Dove ad and the clinic used the ad as wallpaper in their facility.
Nadeau said one reporter for The Chicago Sun Times hated the Dove campaign and specifically attacked Nadeau in an article he wrote for the paper as she was from the Chicago area. The reporter’s negative comments hurt her, and she waited a few days before deciding how to respond. The author, however, published a public apology before Nadeau could do anything, because several women fired back and stood up for her.
Nadeau didn’t always feel comfortable in her own skin. She shared stories about being “too fat for Limited Too” as a seventh grader. When approached for the campaign, Nadeau wondered how anyone could ever see her as a model. According to a statistic from a Dove survey, only 2 percent of women consider themselves beautiful. Nadeau wants to change this. She told the audience that there is a difference between a healthy ideal and a thin ideal. She encouraged students to “be your own very best self.”
Nadeau’s advice for helping others to accept their bodies was to “change your conversation with your friends and yourself.” She encouraged students to change negative thoughts to positive ones.
“Confidence and happiness are what people are attracted to,” she said.
Kristen Tice, USC’s campus dietician, organized Tuesday’s event and decided to invite Nadeau to campus after representatives from other universities brought up the model’s name at a meeting she attended.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Tice said.
Cassie Jenisek, a first-year broadcast journalism student, attended Nadeau’s talk because she wrote an English paper comparing advertisements and used the Dove ad as one of her examples.
“I wanted to meet the lady I wrote about,” Jenisek said.
Crystal Davis, a second-year elementary education student, came to the event because she thought Nadeau’s message was an important one for students at USC to hear.
“A lot of people don’t understand what people go through every day,” Davis said. “We all need to accept ourselves.”