By Sukirti Dwivedi:
Victoria’s Secret became the target of public fury because of its recently launched ad campaign that featured ten slim and tall supermodels standing next to each other along with the tagline “The Perfect Body”. The ad was termedÂ as “body-shaming” and “irresponsible” for sending a wrong message in terms of defining the ideal body image and beauty. Other lingerie brands like Dear Kate and J.D. Williams had responded to the ad by launching campaigns of their own which featured women across a range of sizes in order to encourage women of all ages, sizes and shapes to take pride in their body. More than 26,000 people even signed a petition launched by three British students on Change.org asking Victoria’s Secret to apologize and terminate the campaign.
In the latest turn of events, the company has changed the tagline of the ad to “A Body for Every Body” on its official website and it now looks like this:
However, the company did not release a formal statement about the change and posters in stores still have “The Perfect Body” tagline. 3 Leeds University students, Frances Black, Gabrielle Kountourides and Laura Ferris, who are the organizers of the petition, were delighted to see the new ad and felt that it reflected “a more inclusive and healthy message”. But the young crusaders now want Victoria’s Secret to change all the posters in their stores. This is not the first time that Victoria’s Secret is facing flak for its commercial. In the past tooÂ it came under fire because of its “Love my body” ad which featured models of exactly the same, slim body type.
The marketing approach of companies like Victoria’s secret endorses distorted notions of what a woman must look like. If one was to go according to their motto, would a fat or short woman be “imperfect” and unworthy of “love”? Ads like these glorify slender and dainty women and create an idyllic aura around them. They worsen the situation in the society by reinforcing stereotypes about the “ultimate” woman.
Consequently, a large number of female viewers of these ads end up developing an inferiority complex about themselves. They live in self-abhorrence and strive to reach the unachievable epitome of the “perfect” body type.
There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way ideas of having a beautiful body are construed and perceived in our society. At a time when eating disorders and obesity are becoming an increasingly dangerous health issue, the emphasis should be on having a fit body rather than a “poster-perfect” one. Such a change can only be brought about when ways of social conditioning are modified. Instead of deifying the skinny body type, girls should be egged on to maintain a nutritious diet. They should be brought up in a manner that they have faith in their individuality and respect themselves irrespective of whether they are a size 8 or 14.
When it comes to aspirations about body type, an eye opening video on YouTube reveals how kids are a lot more sorted out than adults. Made by the JubileeProject, it shows how several adults and children responded to the question – What is the one thing that they would change about their bodies if they could? All the adults were concerned about things they would want to fix about their appearance. However, the kids wanted wings, cheetah legs to run faster, or a mermaid tail. But the one person who stands out among them all is the old lady who appears at the end and says “Nothing. Because it just wouldn’t be me if I totally changed the way I look”.