Why we're thrilled Victoria's Secret got the memo and changed its 'Perfect Body' campaign
There are two steps to getting the perfect body. Step one: look in the mirror. Step two: congratulations, you have the perfect body. Optional third step: eat a donut for breakfast because you probably spend too much time worrying about the shape of your body and you deserve a treat. But that’s not the message that many women got from Victoria Secret’s latest advertisement for their Body by Victoria® collection, which displayed the tagline “The Perfect ‘Body’” over a group of 10 super thin and obviously Photoshopped models. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the perfect body is one that hasn’t been airbrushed and digitally altered.
If you don’t see your body in this ad, don’t worry — very few of us do. In fact, nearly 30,000 women from all over the world signed an online petition asking Victoria’s Secret to change the ad. Many of them even tweeted body-positive messages directly to the company using the hashtag #iamperfect. So if you catch yourself feeling jealous of the thigh gaps on underwear models, think about this far more important gap instead: the difference between the supposedly “perfect” body shape you see in ads and the body shapes that we actually have is only getting wider over time. For most of us, looking like a model is not only an unrealistic goal, it’s probably an unhealthy one, too.
The good news is that the petition and the Twitter campaign appear to have worked. The Victoria’s Secret Angels must have heard our prayers because earlier today the company quietly changed the tagline on the advertisement to “A Body for Every Body,” which sends a much more positive message.
Sure, the exact same set of women appears underneath the new tagline but for a company that’s long been criticized for its portrayal of women’s bodies, this small change is definitely a step in the right direction. At the least, it shows us that Victoria’s Secret cares what women think about the messages their ads send to us.
The even better news is that, lately, other underwear companies besides Victoria’s Secret seem to have gotten the body-positive memo as well. Aerie, the lingerie wing of American Eagle, stopped Photoshopping their models earlier this year and their sales have gone up almost 10% in the last quarter alone. And underwear company Dear Kate responded to the Victoria’s Secret ad with their own image of 10 models who display a wide range of body shapes and skin tones unlike any you’ve ever seen in the pages of a beauty magazine. Dear Kate says that the ad shows “the multitude of shapes perfect bodies can take.”
If you didn’t see your body shape reflected in the Victoria’s Secret ad, you can probably find yourself in the Dear Kate ad. For my part, I’m still the teensiest bit jealous of their amazing hairdos but I’m also a lot more likely to buy my undies from a place that thinks I’m perfect just the way I am.