Secret’s advertisement captures happy, confident, relaxed models wearing lingerie
that expose their thin bodies. As if this cliché advertisement was not discouraging
enough, there appears the statement “The Perfect ‘Body'” in big, bold letters. By
placing the phrase on the advertisement, Victoria Secret has left no room for
interpretation. Girls will no longer be given the option of whether they accept
these models as perfect and think they should look like them – Victoria Secret
is directly telling girls that these models are the perfect body type. The
combination of this phrase along with the depiction of happiness essentially
sells girls the concept of being thin just like an advertiser would sell any
other product. It is the idea that if you, too, look thin, you will also gain
Females who do
not match this supposedly “perfect body” might suffer from a decrease in
self-esteem upon seeing the advertisement. They will feel as if they do not match
the standard of beauty. Such feelings of inadequacy can lead to attempts to
losing weight within a short period of time. The development of eating
disorders can be expected as these females will already be experiencing
negative emotions, and will most likely irrationally plan out how to lose
frustrating part of this advertisement is that the bodies displayed are not a
norm, they are outliers – exceptions. Many females are not extremely thin, and
by labelling these exceptions as a norm, Victoria Secret has added to a culture
encouraging unrealistic body-image goals and triggering eating disorders.
Secret holds high status in the fashion industry. In fact, I asked my friends
to name the first brand that comes to mind when they think of lingerie, and
they said, “Victoria Secret”. Also, I often hear people saying, “Victoria
Secret model” instead of just the word “model” itself. When advertisements
depict thin women in revealing clothing, they are discouraging enough, but when
presented by a top, influential brand like Victoria Secret, I think the
influential power increases tenfold. We know which brands are popular and thus,
we trust them more and may even look up to them.
Furthermore, advertisements for lingerie
typically rely on heavily photoshopping their models, further making this goal
of a “perfect body” unattainable. I
think that this advertisement would have been less dangerous if they used genuine
models of varying body-types, to promote a culture of body type acceptance. An
idea that you do not need to change yourself to match someone else’s body, as
there is essentially no “perfect” body – who you are is already perfect. By
promoting the opposite message, I think the advertisement is a major trigger,
especially to those already suffering from eating disorders, encouraging people
to resort to dangerous means of losing weight. The message Victoria Secret
portrayed further reinforces the concept that anyone who is not extremely thin
and flawless, is not perfect, and whatever is not perfect, should be changed.
In Meghan Trainor’s music
video “All About that Bass,” Meghan uses the word “bass” as a metaphor for a
bigger or curvier body type. Trainor has taken an alternate approach from the media
we are used to seeing depicting size zero females wearing revealing outfits. Trainor
aims to provide reassurance to overweight individuals struggling with their
body images; she emphasizes that although she is not a size two, she can do
everything other girls can do, and she can do it better. Her song advocates an embracement
of bigger body types.
In Western society, many girls try to maintain
a “Barbie-doll” image to attract males, but Trainor fearlessly states that she
will not succumb to this. She will not change her appearance to a stick-figure,
and if a guy cannot accept her body, then “they can move along”. Trainor also emphasizes
the media’s use of photoshop – the images in magazines that girls aspire to
look like are not always authentic. She wants to eliminate photoshopped pictures
lowering self-esteem. She promotes a “love yourself” policy because to her everyone
is perfect and they should acknowledge that.
Trainor’s confident, bold
attitude gives off a positive vibe. I think girls nowadays are sensitized to
seeing photoshopped women and thin models, so that is who they have started
looking up to. They aspire to be thin just like them, no matter the cost. Trainor
presents the message of not just accepting a bigger body-type, but rather,
embracing it. This is evident in the way she unapologetically loves her body. Her
music video is upbeat and fun, and all the dancers are dressed up and enjoying
themselves just like other music videos, but without being extremely thin.
Trainor also presents the
advantages of being curvy, once again referring to attracting males. The verse
“boys like a little more booty to hold at night” makes me think that she is
implying having a bigger body type is great because it is what men prefer. This
part of the song is unfortunate as it presents the condition that women should embrace
their bodies only if men prefer them being that way. To me, her message would
have been stronger if she omitted this line as it takes away from the message
of unconditionally loving your body, not simply loving it because it attracts
the opposite gender.
Furthermore, in trying to
eliminate the pressure women face to look thin, Trainor has denigrated thin
women by turning the tables and setting the new standard to be curvy. Thin
women watching her video will undergo the same negativity women of larger body
types face when the media advocates a thin body standard. Trainor even goes as
far as to label these women as “skinny bi****.”
Seeing Trainor accept
herself with no apologies is a refreshing change. Instead of seeing a typical
video of thin dancers and feeling pressured to look like them through dangerous
dieting, one gets the message that these methods are unnecessary. There is no
need for changing your eating patterns to lose weight once you learn to accept
yourself. This music video is promoting this message by trying to help girls
with bigger body types maintain a positive body image. Trainor is setting new
standards for these girls everywhere; she is a role model who is confident in
her skin without being the typical size zero.
Trainor’s “All about that Bass” and Victoria Secret’s advertisement provide
insight into a much greater issue plaguing our society – eating disorders. We live
in a society that triggers unhealthy means of losing weight to become extremely
thin, particularly through the media. Being thin is the ideal body type in
Western culture. Instead of advertisers depicting the dangers of being underweight,
we are plagued with advertisements in which dangerously thin models are happy and
flaunting their bodies; there is an explicit encouragement to be thin just like
them. I do not see other dangerous habits or disorders being promoted in the
media, so why, then, is it acceptable for triggering images that we know can
cause eating disorders as serious as anorexia and bulimia to be promoted? It is
a common practice for advertisers to depict these thin bodies as a norm to
promote their products at the expense of females’ health, self-esteem and
The Western culture we live in has a major influence on
our mindset and our decisions. The media comprises a large part of a culture,
and from an early age, it bombards us with content telling us how we should
look, behave, and what we should and should not buy. This ideology presented by
the media tells consumers what is normal, natural and necessary – it presents
the public with lies. Sometimes, the media uses its influence for the
betterment of society by raising awareness for cancer screening, flu shots, and
other preventative measures against illnesses. However, there are many
instances of the media taking advantage of its power and influence to construct
false needs. The media tries to sell hope and happiness to move their product or
to attract viewers of television shows.
Switch on your smartphone or television and it will not
be long before you see an advertisement depicting a size zero woman, whether it
is for a weight loss program, lingerie, or even a car. Some advertisers use these
thin models with a harmless intent to attract consumers without thinking about
the potential consequences. They are aware that thin models will draw attention,
particularly by males; thus, increasing the chance that consumers will purchase
their product or service. Some advertisers may not be thinking at all as they
could have implicit biases; they unconsciously view thinner individuals as being
the better fit.
there are products and services specifically geared towards losing weight to be
thin, and some advertisers use thin models with the intent of influencing women
to lose weight and look like the models. There are several advertisements showing
before and after weight loss images in which the “before” pictures are
purposely of poorer quality to make them look as bad as possible. Advertisers
are associating larger body types with dullness and unhappiness while
associating thin bodies with glamour and happiness.
There is a
possibility that weight-loss advertisers also do not consider the extent of
consequences their actions could cause. According to them, they have created a
business for a product or service that consumers themselves seek – weight loss.
What they might not be considering, however, is how messages conveying the
benefits of being extremely thin may trigger individuals, particularly those who
are struggling with self-hate and trying to maintain a healthy weight and to appreciate
their bodies the way they are.
Victoria Secret is notorious for using thin models to
promote their products. In their print advertisement, they glamorized being
underweight to make their lingerie line look appealing. They used the knowledge
that most consumers find thinner body types attractive to their advantage. In labelling
these thin models as having “The Perfect Body,” Victoria Secret strengthened
the Western culture of making dangerously thin body types the norm.
Advertisements have become so insidious that social media
outlets like Facebook track your search history and provide “recommended advertisements.”
Often, I come across advertisements for slimming creams on my Facebook feed,
and I will have to manually hide the advertisement, but by then it is too late.
This simple example indicates how evasive the media is. Even when we are not searching
for these advertisements, they search for us and infiltrate our lives.
Whether someone is already struggling with an eating
disorder or not, the powerful influence of media cannot be overemphasized. Even
someone who has strongly held opinions can be unconsciously swayed by the media
through its priming effects. Constantly seeing thin women take over the television
industry along with messages telling us these women are who we should aspire to
look like can take a devastating toll on those struggling with eating
disorders, further reinforcing the idea to lose weight.
When the media negatively affects self-esteem, one is
willing to take any measures to look like the norm – to be accepted. Not only
does the media influence people to lose weight, but they often glamorize eating
disorders, thus, conveying eating disorders as an acceptable means of becoming thin.
Seeing girls endure eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa
in the media as if they are a normal part of development has become a sad
reality. When something is displayed as “normal” or “a part of growing up”, it
is hard to convince those suffering from eating disorders otherwise. To them, many
people are aspiring to be thin and starving themselves, so why cannot they do
the same? The media has made eating disorders a new trend.
This is not to say that all media glamorizes thinness.
There has been an uproar of influencers fighting against these unrealistic
expectations by encouraging people to love themselves without risking their
health. Meghan Trainor is a good example of such an influencer. Her music video
“All about that Bass” is anything but ordinary. Trainor loves her body despite
not being underweight, and she expresses the benefits of her curvy body.
Although she attempts to defy typical media influencers
encouraging thin bodies, her target audience is people on the curvier side, but
what about people struggling with eating disorders? They are already affected
by the typical media triggering dangerous tendencies, and now Trainor is
promoting a curvy body while using phrases like “boys like a little more booty”
and “tell those skinny bi**** to step aside.” Trainor attempts to change the
norm to curvier bodies, but why should there be a norm at all? By vouching for
her own body type, Trainor has unintentionally added to a conditional culture
that only accepts you if you look a certain way.
advocating for a single body type, we should vouch for an acceptance of all
body types. We would all do good for Western culture by advocating self-love,
for each and everybody. We must eliminate the idea that there is a perfect body
– it does not exist.
the media greatly contributes to Western culture, there are other factors. Western
culture follows an individualistic ideology emphasizing the worth and needs of
the individual over the society. I think this contributes to the higher
prevalence of eating disorders in Western societies as people focus on their
goals, desires and concerns which include appearance.