The "Perfect" Body
by person1234 on April 21, 2017 - 11:09am
According to marketing experts, the average American is exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements a day (Marshall 2015). Advertisements can be seen on television, social media, billboards and/or magazines. In October of 2014, Victoria’s Secret, a lingerie company, came out with a controversial ad campaign that contains the slogan “The Perfect Body”. The ad contains pictures and videos of the Victoria’s Secret models and it portrays to viewers that having a body like theirs is considered perfect (Victoria’s Secret Ad). Many people were outraged by this campaign and argued that is was very irresponsible on Victoria’s Secret’s part (Peterson, 2014). By establishing unattainable standards of beauty and perfection of one’s body, the media drives people to be unsatisfied with their bodies and leads to unfortunate consequences by not attaining the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.
As soon as the “Perfect Body” ad campaign surfaced it sparked controversy. Victoria’s Secret is known for there tall and thin models and this ad was no different. The only difference was the words “Perfect Body” written across the ad. Consumers right away turned to social media to get the word out about their frustration. They explained that women are so often exposed to advertisements that allow them to feel insecure about their bodies. They also said that the Victoria’s Secret ad failed to celebrate the many different body types that exist and chose to focus on one that they considered the most perfect (Fox News, 2014). From a utilitarian framework, advertisements that portray unattainable body images are not ethical and should not be allowed. Such a small percentage of women have achieved the “perfect” body image therefore the ads can not relate to most women. The ads only allow for women to be dissatisfied with their body image and does not create the greater good for the greatest amount of people.
Studies have shown that exposure to images of female attractiveness that is commonly shown in advertising and media can lead to body image disturbances. The media often presents this standard of thin tall models that is exaggerated and unattainable. The effects of these ads are worse for women who are already dissatisfied with their body image because they see a discrepancy between their own attractiveness and the attractiveness of the women in the ads (Posavac & Posavac, 2002). Other research has shown that unrealistic images of female beauty often leads to body dissatisfaction and which is the primary cause of eating disorders. The exposure to these “ideal” body types are especially harmful to preadolescent girls and young women (Perloff, 2014).
However, others might argue that this ad was not trying to portray the negative message that every woman should try and attain the perfect body. By looking at it from a different perspective, the advertisement could have been trying to say that buying this specific bra and underwear allows one to feel like they have the perfect body. From a deontological framework, creative licence, which in this case is the slogan and pictures portrayed, pass the categorical imperative and therefore is considered ethical. Deontology would argue that one should not allow themselves to be offended by the advertisements because everyone has the capability to understand what is ethical and what is not.
About a week after Victoria’s Secret “Perfect Body” ad campaign was released, the company was quick to realize the negative impacts it was having on the consumers. They decided to then change the ad’s slogan to “A Body for Every Body” but still kept the same pictures of the slim models. Although they failed to include all body types in the ad, at least they understood where they went wrong and changed the slogan (Bahadur, 2014). There are so many more Ads that portray unrealistic body expectations than this one Victoria’s Secret Ad. Everyday, women are faced with these types of images on TV, magazines, social media etc. Companies have to realize that enforcing these body expectations on women, especially young women, can only have negative impacts on them. There needs to be a balance when portraying women in the media. Fortunately, research found that there has been a diverse amount of social media campaigns that have helped young women adopt healthier body images and resist any pressure there might be to engage in bad habits such as eating disorders (Perloff, 2014). This is exactly why Victoria’s Secret changed their slogan. A petition called change.org surfaced after the ad was released that exposed the wrong doings of the company. By the time Victoria’s Secret had change their slogan name, the petition had around 30,000 signatures. Also, a hashtag arose that wrote “#IAmPerfect”. (Bahadur, 2014). Any intervention that reduced the negative effects of portrayed body image in the media can help to reduce the risk of possible body disturbances such as eating disorders (Posavac &Posavac, 2002).
In conclusion, by the media establishing unattainable body standards, it can lead to people feeling insecure about their own appearance and force them to turn to unhealthy ways of dealing with their insecurities. It is an important subject to address because so many women are effected by it. Companies have a duty to ensure that their advertisements are consumer friendly. No body type is better than the next.
Bahadur, Nina. 2014. Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ Campaign Changes Slogan After Backlash. The Huffington Post.
Peterson, Hayley. 2014. Victoria's Secret Sparks Outrage With 'Perfect Body' Campaign. Business Insider.
Fox News. 2014. Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ Campaign Sparks Backlash. New York Post.
Posavac, Steven S. Posavac, Heidi D. 2002. Predictors of Women’s concern with Body Weight: The Roles of Perceived Self-Media Ideal Discrepancies and Self-Esteem. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url&db=aph&AN=7401603&site=ehost-live
Perloff, Richard. 2014. Social Media Effects on Young Women’s Body image Concerns: Theoretical and an Agenda for Research.
Marshall, Ron. 2015. How Many Ads do You See in One Day?. Red Crow Marketing