Todd’s Note: Many thanks for allowing me a moment of personal privilege to depart from my usual approach to the TVDA blog…

Dear Lindsay,

I hope you are listening to your mother while I am out of town for a couple of days. I saw something online, from the advertising world which made me smile and want to share with you.

No, it’s not a spoiler about Disney’s Descendants 3, coming out next summer. (Don’t worry, I’d never ruin it for you.) I’ll keep trying to figure out when the movie is coming…we’ll go together.

Instead, what I saw is a news story about the brand Dove, by Unilever. (Yes, the one that makes the awesome white soap that doesn’t sting when it gets in your eyes).

What the news story said was that the company is now going to be watermarking all of the images in their advertisements that have not been digitally retouched or photoshopped.

I know that’s a lot for a 7-year-old to understand. This means that people will be able to see Dove’s ads and know right away that the people in them actually look like the way they look like in real life—not made to look any different using a computer program (yes, that happens A LOT). Dove is calling their new project the “No Digital Distortion Mark,” and by 2019, they’ll put this new watermark on all of their pictures of girls and women.

Okay, so you might be thinking, why does your dad care about a mark on some pictures? What’s the difference between a soap ad with a woman whose hair has been turned blonde by a computer, and a soap ad with a woman whose hair is natural brown?

The answer is: the truth.

For years, beauty companies have lied in their ads. They have used fake people, created by computer programs, to serve as their models to sell their products. Little girls and teenagers see these fake people in the ads, and many have developed the idea that those people (made by computers) are what they’re supposed to look like, too. But, the truth of the matter is: it’s not.

But, now with their new program, Dove shows that they understand that using real people in their ads can help people see what it really looks like to use their products and that you don’t have to look “perfect” or fake in order to get noticed or celebrated. You just need to be you.

The truth of the matter is, Lindsay, when you grow up, you’re going to watch a lot of TV. Actually, according to your mom, you already do :->

You’re probably also going to read a lot of magazines. And you’re probably going to see A LOT of ads with A LOT of pictures of people in them. But now, thanks to Dove, that’s going to be a little less scary, because you’re going to see a lot fewer people who were fixed up by computers, and a lot more people who look just like you and me. I hope it means less pressure as you grow up to look a certain way in order to be beautiful, or celebrated, or noticed….because you are beautiful.

Dove gets it…the message that I always want you to remember: that you are good enough EXACTLY how you are, and you should feel proud of that, and love yourself, without ever feeling like you need to change in order to succeed.

Now, Brett and Evan: one day you’re going to live in the world as brothers and strong men. And when you do, I want you to remember: always focus on what really matters, treat all people with kindness and respect, notice beauty in all of its different forms and shapes and sizes, and don’t perpetuate any of the hype that gets spread around in ads. Your mom and I expect you to take care of your sister, and to remember that the most respected, powerful men are the kindest ones.

So, Lindsay, Brett, and Evan, I’m excited for you, and it’s all thanks to a soap company. Over time, Dove’s honest decision will make the world an easier place for you to live and thrive in–and a place where you can be exactly your best selves while you do it.

I’ll be home soon…till then, take care of your mom.