Victoria Secret is in the headlines again, but not for their annual televised fashion show.
The lingerie giant is now fighting claims it promotes a negative body image after a recent marketing campaign showed images of their slim models posed in underwear with the phrase “perfect body” headlined across the middle.
Users took to social media using the hashtag #IAmPerfect to voice their concerns over the new Victoria Secret campaign.
A petition calling for the company to apologize and re-think their marketing strategy. was started by three United Kingdom students, Frances Black, Gabriella Kountourides & Laura Ferris and received almost 30,000 signatures.
Victoria Secret has discreetly changed the tagline on some of their ads to feature a more inclusive message: “A Body For Everybody”. The change is only reflected online as the ads in the stores still remain the same.
“We would like Victoria’s Secret to apologise and take responsibility for the unhealthy and damaging message that their wording ‘The Perfect ‘Body’’ sends out to society about women’s bodies and how they should be judged,” reads the first paragraph of the petition letter. “This marketing campaign is harmful. It fails to celebrate the amazing diversity of women’s bodies by choosing to call only one body type ‘perfect.”
According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, between 80 and 90 per cent of women and girls are unhappy with the way they look. A survey done by Glamour magazine, women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment each day.
Humber Bachelor of Nursing Instructor Robyn Plunkett said that the media definitely has an influence on how we perceive our body image should be.
“I definitely think that talking about body image is a sensitive issue, especially for the generation hitting their adolescence years because they are so “plugged” into visual media,” Plunkett said.
“Having ads that reinforce that image can start to send messages to youth.”
The advertisement debacle comes in the same week that Walmart got in hot water after users found that the discount giant labeled a Halloween costume section “Fat Girl Costumes” on their online website.
Jill Andrews, PhD(c.), co-founder of FatinTheCity.com ‘fatshion’ & lifestyle blog & the annual Body Confidence Canada Awards said debunking the myth of the “perfect” body is key.
“If we look at the wording in the Victoria Secret ad, the word “perfect” [body] doesn’t exist; and I think that is the first thing we need to teach young people and even ourselves,” Andrews said.
“We have to be careful about speaking narratives that suggest that we are unhappy with our bodies. So if you walk by a Victoria Secret ad that says “The Perfect Body”, you have to already know that is a lie instead of thinking why you don’t look like that. The model’s don’t even look like that!.”
But not all critics of the Victoria Secret advertisment think the company’s message was intentional.
Diana Luong, 27, who is an illustrator, said that it is up to the consumer to know the difference between fantasy and reality in advertisements.
“It’s the advertiser’s job to want you to buy into their brand and sell their idyllic Photoshop “perfect” vision. Perfection is a perception not a commodity. The fact that it is always unattainable makes you want to buy more and more, which is what they want and why they do it,” she said.
“Be a conscious consumer and don’t believe in everything you see.”