The Perfect Body campaign​ by Victoria's Secret needs to stop

white womanVictoria's Secret is catching some serious heat after unveiling its latest ad campaign, which features models with impossibly flat abs, stick think legs, and gaps between their thighs posing in push up-bras and low-cut panties--the words "The Perfect Body" superimposed over the image in large white letters. British students Frances Black, Gabriella Kountourides and Laura Ferris drew up a petition on Change.org demanding that the company apologize for the use of the phrase "Perfect Body" and acknowledge the harmful impact these words have on young girls, many of whom already struggle with insecurities regarding their bodies. In their call to action, the activists also urged people to tweet @VictoriasSecret using the hashtag #iamperfect. As of Thursday morning, the petition had amassed over 9,000 signatures.

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The lingerie giant has remained mum on the issue of its advertising campaign, but I predict that, if they do issue an apology, they'll claim the verbiage used was intended to be a clever pun used to tout their new "Body" line of undergarments and that they had no intention of perpetuating any narrow beauty image norms. To which I say, in my best Judge Judy voice, "Phooey!"

Victoria's Secret knew exactly what it was doing when using those words in its ad campaign. The brand, after all, cherry-picks the slim but somehow impossibly buxom models in its catalogs. Its goal, it seems, is to provide women with "aspirational" images, making them long to look like the models in the Victoria's Secrets catalogs--or to believe they will, in fact, look like them when clad in the very same lingerie pieces. And, of course, the underlying message is that looking like a Victoria's Secret model is tantamount to perfection. This time, the brand just got sloppier than usual, actually using the words "perfect body" rather than simply implying the notion.

I agree with the protesters that the phrase "perfect body" places unnecessary pressures on young women, who are constantly being bombarded with images that perpetuate the idea that to be thin is to be beautiful. But I think speaking out against this particular campaign is just a drop in the bucket of what we, as a society, need to do to reconfigure the media machine in a way that nurtures and empowers young women.  We also have to talk about the extreme approach with which women's magazines discuss body types ----essentially dividing them into stick thin or plus-sized, thereby bypassing anyone in the middle of these two polar opposites, those of us who are neither lanky nor chubby. We need to discuss the twisted fitness revolution happening on Pinterest, which basically encourages women to exercise excessively--not for health reasons, but for aesthetic ones--via messages like "Suck It up so one day you don't have to suck It In."

More than anything, we need to stop falling for it. We need to really embrace our bodies and realize that every woman is perfectly imperfect. We need to stop trying to be "flawless" and instead embrace being flawsome.

Images Via Corbis/Twitter

 

Topics: beauty  underwear  body image  victoria's secret  perfect body  eating disorders  ad campaign