Culture Jam Assignment

The Victoria’s Secret’s advertisement for their Body line of brassieres promotes both perfectionism and body shaming.  The models depicted appear to be a size zero with C-cup breasts, leaving all women outside of this standard to feel ashamed of their existing physiques.  The slogan, ‘THE PERFECT “BODY”’, in combination with the slim models intensifies the social pressures promoted by patriarchal beauty standards.  Such imagery and text seems to encourage both eating disorders and uniformity rather than celebrate diversity.  Further, the idea that attractiveness and beauty, or even better, perfection, is only attainable within a set of pre-determined and narrowly-defined criteria leaves many women to despise their bodies, and subsequently themselves for failing to fit the description.

The breasts in this image have been given a rounded and lifted look, either by the use of silicone padding or retouching software, with the end result matching that of surgically-enhanced breasts rather than those which have become ‘perfect’ due to a well-fitting bra.  Such imagery promotes body shaming to the extent that the plastic surgery industry continues to thrive, simply because natural breasts do not have a place in the proposed ‘perfect body’ framework.  Additionally, the ad may promote feelings of shame for women who may in fact be a size zero with C-cup breasts because all of the models have been retouched, thus exuding a standard of appearance that is only attainable as a 2D image behind a screen.

Moreover, the thematic elements of this ad promote a strain of perfectionism which is defined by external characteristics rather than internal qualities, the result of which leaves women at a disadvantage on the battleground of patriarchal society.  Such unattainable ideals facilitate the proliferation of ‘Superwoman syndrome’ and misogynistic body policing.  This type of messaging not only encourages women to measure themselves against an impossible standard, but also to fall prey to the notion that their worth is determined by their waistline.

My jamming philosophy consists of creating awareness regarding the ill-effects of Victoria’s Secret’s claim that one set of measurements constitutes the ‘perfect body’, or that ‘perfect’ anything ought to be a woman’s prerogative.

I switched the quotation marks from the word “BODY” to the word “PERFECT” to emphasize the absurdity of Victoria’s Secret’s visual definition of the perfect body.  By adding “is a size zero”, the intention is to highlight the reality that size zero is not a statistical norm, but more of an outlier when it comes to body composition, making it an unrealistic and unhealthy ideal.  By adding the “perfect for” statements, I have drawn attention to the consequences for female consumers who may get caught up in pursuit of the patriarchal standards of beauty and appearance supported by the ad.  Such consequences include body shaming and insecurity, both of which prevent the female population from confidently pursuing equality and demanding control over the societal narrative concerning their bodies.

Further, I have drawn attention to the notion that this inappropriately idealized body benefits men.  By promoting unattainable standards, and the idea that perfection should be every woman’s goal for her body, and perhaps all aspects of life, the governing patriarchy fosters an insecure female population that is easily dominated.

By adding text about self doubt at the bottom of the ad, I have highlighted the near certain consequences facing women who indulge in perfectionism.  By trying to attain the physique of the models portrayed, a woman is succumbing to the perspective that her body is categorized as less than ideal.  This collective cognitive schema is a breeding ground for a state in which body shaming, feelings of insecurity, and self doubt become the norm.