The “perfect” body or mission impossible? Victoria’s secret’s dirty little secret.

The following article was written by Natalie (G10) as part of an English assignment.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words Victoria secret? Hot, sexy female bodies in lingerie? Possibly with superficial facial features that can be considered as perfect and flawless?  Victoria’s Secret, one of the largest and most well known American retailer of women’s lingerie. Has a great influence on tons of women globally. Despite their age, race, sexuality and body sizes. However the brand itself puts out a very negative message as to how an ideal women should look like. One of the main reasons we conform to society’s expectations is because of what is constantly exposed to us on social media. As much as we all deny it, it is a common behaviour that we all compare ourselves to what we encounter on the internet.  

As woman everywhere encounter the brand ads in many ways either through social media, walking by the store or simply having them pop up in your browser windows. It is no wonder that you will stop and think “Why does my body not look like that? What makes these girls so pretty? And Can I be like them?” And to be honest that is one of the cruelest things this brand does as their way of  marketing. Having girls hate on their own bodies and doubting their worth. Myself, as a teenage girl always looked up to these models with their “perfect” bodies looking like absolute angels. It is hard not to stop and admirer them. By the time I  realise that it will never be possible for my body to look the way these models look, my self esteem is pretty much OUT THE DOOR. It is also no wonder that majority teenage girls my age feel the same way. According to The Equinox some statements found on social media regarding the fashion show two years ago include tweets like “RIP self-esteem,” “Never eating again so I can look like these girls” and instagram posts of the VS models with the caption “I’m trash.” Along with girls responding directly to the advertisements put out by Victoria’s secret. The young teenagers posed directly in front of the Victorias secret window and stuck up their middle fingers in a sense of madness and hatred. Other girls then responded to this action with the same emotion as seen in figure 1.

 

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Figure 1. Twitter, I hate Victoria’s secret

 

Not to mention that Victoria secret has also put out multiple campaigns that include the aspects of body shaming, with the implied message that, this is what female bodies should look like. But in reality there is no way that all girls can have those flawless bodies that these VS “Angels” have.

 

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Figure 2. Victoria’s secret, I LOVE MY BODY.

 

Looking at existing campaigns from the brand itself you will realise that each of them has an implied message that isn’t always healthy for a women self esteem.  The “I love my body” campaign looks absolutely fine on the surface and can be sending out an amazing message towards females, encouraging them to love their body. However the creator of the campaign uses image cohesion to enhance the message. Having the Victoria secret angels and the text side by side. Connoting to the viewers that you are supposed to look like those angels in order to be appreciated by society and to meet expectations. Sending out a misleading message that if you don’t have a body like those models you are unable to love your body. It lowers women’s self esteem and encourages the stereotype of how an ideal women figure should look like. In reality it is a one in a million chance that women can look like these models. The four models shown on the campaign are tall, skinny, long legged hinting that it is the ideal way of being beautiful.  This communicates an extremely negative message to women saying that you can’t and shouldn’t love your body if you don’t have all these qualities.

The toxic combination of the text image cohesion used to market Victoria’s secret’s lingerie is carried throughout the majority of their advertisements. Campaigns using perfect and unrealistic female bodies with text including complementing elements. Such as “ The perfect body” , “ I love my body”, “body by Victoria”,  “The showstopper by  Victoria’s secret” followed up by show nothing but your shape. Immediately brings the audiences attention to the body figure of the model in the advertisement and creates comparison. The words “show nothing but your shape” is a powerful phrase that can be interpreted both ways. In this scenario the text image cohesion that took place directed the message towards a negative tone. The creator suggested to the audience indirectly that if you don’t own a body like that. Don’t show it. Where the words “show nothing” plays the most important role,  giving women and ideal body type and pressure of creating an unrealistic body. As much as one small advertisement or media post can do, the comparison aspect haunts a women’s self esteem down. Leading to the ultimate cause of serious health issues. Most females start to develop self insecurities where others take it to extremes stages such as eating disorders (Hickey).  Studies have shown that women start to feel pressured to be appealing at the age of 13- 14 (Granja-Sierra) and the pressure of doing so continues to increase as you grow older. Have you ever heard a saying that you, yourself is your greatest enemy? Likewise, you are also your worst beauty critics when it comes to analysing your own appearance. With the influence and the help of our terrible addiction to media we are constantly exposed to advertisements, celebrities and flawless pictures. More than three quarters of the influence on body image in society comes from the media, yet the ideal or “typical” body shown on those platforms are normally physically unattainable towards 95% of the population (Granja-Sierra).

 

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Figure 3. Victoria’s secret,THE SHOW STOPPER.

 

At the end of the day no matter how much you want to acquire to those angel like bodies, considered as “perfect” we have to realise that what we see through media is not a true depiction of reality. And that those Victoria’s secret angels are one in a million that may not always be realistic. Ditch the label and be you, you may not be able to fight this battle with your appearance but a big heart and an open mind can be your starting point to fight back. Love yourself for the things you have and not the things you don’t.

 

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Figure 4. Twitter, I am perfect.

 

***

Work Cited

Dwyer, Liz. I Am Perfect. Digital image. TakePart. 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2018.

Hickey, Claire. “The Equinox – Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Leaves Females with Low Self- Esteem.” The Equinox, kscequinox.com/2015/11/victorias-secret-fashion-show-leaves- females-with-low-self-esteem/.

I Hate Victoria’s Secret. Digital image. Twitter. Web. 22 Feb. 2018.

I Love My Body. Digital image. Victoria’s Secret. Web. 22 Feb. 2018.

The Show Stopper. Digital image. Victoria’s Secret. Web. 22 Feb. 2018.

Granja-Sierra, Veronica. “Why The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is Damaging To A Woman’s Psyche.” Elite Daily, Elite Daily, 22 Dec. 2017, http://www.elitedaily.com/women/victorias secret.

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