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Victoria's Secret Is Selling a Fantasy, Not Judging Your Reality

Victoria's Secret
Believe me when I say it’s not hard to get me all fired up on the topic of body image. Throw an anorexic mannequin in a Gap store, Photoshop a thigh gap on a pair of Old Navy plus-size jeans, or use a skinny pregnant woman to model non-maternity plus-size clothes on Target.com and you’ll be hearing from me. Feeling fat and loathing my reflection in the mirror is hardly new to me.What’s also not new is seeing photos of legitimate models all dolled up in not a whole lot trying to sell stuff like bras and panties. While I do expect to find models whose bodies bear some minute resemblance to mine while shopping in catalogs and on sites like Lands’ End or L.L. Bean (which is to say, nowhere near pin-thin), when I’m bra shopping, seeing Gisele Bündchen’s astonishingly chiseled torso and beautiful B-cups staring back at me is par for the course.That’s why when Victoria’s Secret recently launched their “Perfect Body” ads, I wasn’t thrown for a loop. Even my ridiculously fragile self-esteem didn’t take four steps back. I don’t mind looking at beautiful woman. Not every model — naturally perfect or Photoshopped to look it — makes me want to lose my lunch (and breakfast and dinner and the seven snacks in between). Sometimes I appreciate the photography of a campaign, admire the structure of a woman’s face, or see the sexy appeal of her curves. Showing women with seemingly flawless bodies isn’t a knock against my less-than-perfect figure; it’s possible to sell a fantasy without judging my reality.Even I get that.

Of course Victoria’s Secret is being provocative by using the words “perfect” and “body,” but we all understand that it’s really just about how they’re selling comfortable bras and panties (instead of itchy, lacy, barely there ones) right? It’s just a play on words, not incentive to start a movement against a company. If we get worked up about this, why aren’t we also going after Neiman Marcus for their annual Christmas Book? I can hardly afford the Tanqueray No. Ten Imperial Shaker by Jason Crawley for $35,000 that they’re peddling in the 2014 edition, but you don’t see me picketing them on behalf of my anemic bank account.

And yet, a movement has begun against Victoria’s Secret’s “Perfect Body” ads. People took to Twitter with the hashtag #IAmPerfect to show that they are no Victoria’s Secret model, but they’re still worthy. Which is great and all, but like so many other hashtag campaigns before it, it’s just a thing online. Same goes for this requisite Change.org petition asking Victoria’s Secret to “apologize for, and amend the irresponsible marketing of your new bra,” with the petitioners claiming the campaign’s message is “unhealthy and damaging” to “women’s bodies and how they should be judged.”

In an ideal world, would Victoria’s Secret also use some larger models in their ads, especially in campaigns promoting “perfect body” bras and panties? Maybe? But is that their brand? Nope. Should they change their brand, or should people (like me) who are realistic (albeit eternally sad) about their bodies shop elsewhere? Definitely. Brands like Neiman Marcus (that also includes less expensive items in their Christmas Book) and Victoria’s Secret are aspirational, although that doesn’t also make them unattainable. If the latter were only going after supermodel customers, they wouldn’t also have size 40DDD bras for sale. I have more issues than the Library of Congress, yet I know enough to see that a company that uses faces (and bodies) like Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio as their ambassadors isn’t one that I endeavor to fit in with — ’cause it (literally) ain’t happening. I can buy what they’re selling even if what I’ll be getting won’t turn me into Karlie Kloss; they’re not claiming to sell miracles, just bras.

If we want to make a difference and send a real message about the “Perfect Body” campaign, we might consider not hiding behind a hashtag and an electronic signature and buy our bras elsewhere. Let’s stand up with our wallets and maybe then the folks at Victoria’s Secret will hear our message. But even though Victoria’s Secret may not be in real life the angels they have strutting their stuff in commercials, that doesn’t make them the devil, either.

Image courtesy of Victoria’s Secret

 

Article Posted 2 years Ago

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