Why Victoria’s Secret’s ‘Perfect Body’ campaign makes us sad

We’re always psyched when retailers send a body-positive message, encouraging women to embrace an expansive definition of what it means to be beautiful. That said, we were not so psyched to see Victoria’s Secret’s latest ‘Perfect Body’ campaign.

The recently launched ad for their ‘Body’ bra features a bunch of models with similar (model) body types and the phrase “The Perfect Body” superimposed over their image. At first glance, the message seems to be that there’s one definition for the perfect body and it’s not particularly inclusive. In fact, that’s how a lot of people interpreted it on Twitter, where an #IAmPerfect hashtag has been born as backlash to the campaign.

While the ad is actually supposed to be a play on words—the bra being advertised is named ‘The Body Bra,’  so these ads are supposed to be saying it’s the ‘perfect’ bra—that doesn’t exactly come across. Like at all. What it looks like is an ad for a specific, and for many, unrealistic, beauty standard, and that’s a problem.

In a world where Photoshopping is the norm, where women face tremendous pressures to look a certain way, and where body image issues can lead to damaging eating disorders and self-harm, narrow perceptions of beauty in the media only foster the problem and make women feel worse about themselves. An ad with this kind of message has the potential to pressure women to fit a singular notion of beauty, or feel bad about themselves if they don’t—and that just makes us feel really sad.

And we’re not alone. Enough people have gotten pretty upset about this “Perfect Body” campaign to start a Change.org petition, calling for the lingerie company to apologize for this campaign and make amends for this “irresponsible marketing.”

“Every day women are bombarded with advertisements aimed at making them feel insecure about their bodies, in the hope that they will spend money on products that will supposedly make them happier and more beautiful,” reads the petition, which now has over 4,000 signatures. “Victoria’s Secret’s new advertisements play on women’s insecurities, and send out a damaging message by positioning the words ‘The Perfect Body’ across models who have exactly the same, very slim body type. 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’.”

Fingers crossed that Victoria’s Secret starts picking up what its consumers are throwing down and starts creating marketing that makes us want to buy some skivvies not because we feel like there’s stuff about our bodies we have to hide/fix/change, but rather because Victoria made us feel great about ourselves and we want to reward ourselves for our own awesomeness with fun underwear we can wear while dancing around the house to 80’s power ballads singing at the top of our lungs into a hairbrush that is doubling as a microphone. Or, you know, whatever you do when you’re wearing underwear and feeling awesome about yourself.