Body Image Hypocrisy in Modern Media

Original Victoria’s Secret ad 

Victoria’s Secret is a company that is no stranger to critique, due to its immense under-representation of models from diverse backgrounds and different body types. This advertisement for new bras makes a surprising yet entirely unsuccessful attempt at addressing these critiques. The enlarged words reading ‘The perfect “body”’ in the ad clearly tries to make a statement about an important social issue facing women today. Women across the globe are faced with an entirely unrealistic expectation to have the so called ‘perfect’ body. Women with other body types are often left feeling less attractive, a quality valued highly in our materialistic, capitalist society. This problem is made ever worse by the media and their praise of women with one specific body type; skinny. When women see this body type everywhere, it can damage the psyche of women who have any other body type. This can result in many mental and physical health issues such as depression and eating disorders. The issue with this specific advertisement, is that it makes a blanket statement about this idea of the ‘perfect’ body, yet includes exclusively women of that body type. It entirely undermines its attempted social statement. This makes it clear that all the ad is really trying to do is appeal to the masses; the company is not willing to actually make changes in its practices, even if these changes could help change the industry standards and help women and young girls all over the world, of all different and equally beautiful body types, feel represented. They don’t even address the issue in the rest of the ad apart from the single statement; the rest is dedicated to their bra advertising. It’s a pitiful attempt at social justice that is easy to see right through.

‘Culture Jammed’ Victoria’s Secret ad

This alteration of the original ad reveals the ads complete failure to make any social statement. The original ad has the word ‘body’ in quotation marks with the intent to undermine what the perfect body is. However, with the ad’s complete lack of body diversity, this edited version shows what Victoria’s Secret is truly trying to tell you is perfect. All models shown are tall and thin, the general body type seen in most models and across most media and advertising. By pointing out how ‘perfect’ this body type is, as deemed by society, the recreated ad subverts any pathetic attempt made by Victoria’s Secret to re-define the ideal body. This is again emphasized by inserting the phrase ‘perfectly hypocritical’ in the ad. The original advertisement is clearly and undeniably hypocritical, and this simple statement points it out bluntly. Beneath this, the altered ad also reads ‘explore the “diversity”’. This phrase is crucial to the message of the edited ad because it underlines the main issue with the original ad; there is no diversity in body type. When only one body type is represented, there are millions of women left without images they can relate to in the media. When advertisements such as this one try and make a social statement without putting in any effort, it remains clear where they stand. By using social issues for their own benefit, they undermine the importance of the issue itself. If companies want to enact change and be a part of a progressive political movement, they must work on changing their own standards first.