Victoria’s Secret products are usually high-quality and respectable, but apparently their advertising department doesn’t follow the same level of quality control. Recently, the company put out an advertisement for the Body by Victoria line with the words “The Perfect Body” superimposed over eight models of a nearly identical body type: tall and very thin. Supposedly, the words were meant to refer to the ‘body’ of their products, not the women, but the public viewed the advertisement felt that it was body-shaming, according to The Today Show. Even if that really isn’t the way it was intentioned, Victoria’s Secret made a colossal mistake by publishing the advertisement.
The company published the ad and experienced the backlash of over 20,000 people, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Nearly every lingerie ad that we see today has tall and thin women scantily clad to show off the appeal of the product, so we find ourselves asking why Victoria’s Secret and their campaign are on a different level. It mainly has to do with their idiotic use of the word ‘perfect’ in their advertisement without a clear explanation as to what they intended. By displaying this trigger word over traditional models it makes it seem as if their nearly impossible to obtain, highly reliant on genetics body type is the only one that is accepted or beautiful. It’s ironic that a company who supposedly aims to make women feel comfortable with their bodies, by offering a wide variety of products which support different body types, is actually alienating many of the women it caters to.
After the campaign was initially launched, women and men both joined in a Twitter campaign using the hashtag “Iamperfect” to fight against body-shaming women of the many shapes and sizes not depicted in the Victoria’s Secret ad. It was entirely unethical for the company to print an ad which seems to demonstrate that only one body type is ‘perfect’ in today’s world. That’s exactly why another lingerie company, Dear Kate, launched its nearly identical advertisement where it swapped the ‘perfect’ models for women of common body types, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. This was a smart move on Dear Kate’s part. They took advantage of the media storm to promote their product as being the conventional woman’s choice. However, it would not have made sense for Victoria’s Secret to do a similar campaign.
If you scroll through Victoria’s Secret’s website, you’ll find that they have bra sizes ranging from a 32A to a 38DDD. This seems like a large range at first, but several of the women in the Dear Kate advertisement require larger sizes than Victoria’s Secret offers. Victoria’s Secret uses thinner models in their advertisements, because they do cater to thinner people. However, it may be expected that a company based in the U.S., where obesity is a major problem, could be expected to cater to plus-sized women as well as thinner women, but it is not their current goal. Their egregious mistake was using the word ‘perfect’ and making it appear to be describing these women and their identical body type. It’s never a good move to make one type of person feel less than in order to sell a product to another, and that’s exactly what Victoria’s Secret managed to accomplish.
Nobody has a perfect body. While Victoria’s Secret did not intentionally convey that one body-type was the ‘perfect’ one, this was how the public saw it. Unfortunately, the company and its advertising team made a poor decision by using this ad which seems to say there is a perfect body-type, and it is the tall and thin body of a model. The wording along with the ad’s layout were all terrible choices in the advertisement of the line, but the company did do one good thing. After the public disapproval, the wording over the image of the models was changed on the web version to read “A Body for Every Body.” As aforementioned, this still isn’t entirely correct, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Victoria’s Secret and its ad reminded us that we still have a long way to go in terms of body-shaming in today’s society, but the public reaction also showed that it is being recognized, and change is being demanded and achieved.
Rebecca Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org