At first glance, this Victoria’s Secret ad, marketing their lingerie, appears to be simplistic. The use of only two colours, pink and white, seems to simplify the message is it trying to send for women to “put a smile on your man’s face.” However, upon further observation, the ad seems to contain several hegemonic messages. The first example that caught my attention was the use of the word “man” in their single sentence advertisement, insinuating it will be a woman in a heterosexual relationship using these garments and that the purpose behind wearing them will be to please her male partner. This fails to recognize all relationships and experiences of those who do not identify as such.
The pink background can be correlated with the idea of gendered colours, where pink is commonly labeled as a “girl colour”. As I studied this ad further, I noticed that the bra was about double the size of the underwear, creating a smiley face. Commonly, when drawing a smiley face there is not such a significant difference in the size of the smile compared to the width of the eyes. This leads me to believe that Victoria’s Secret is insinuating that women should have larger breasts and a smaller waist in order to be visually appealing. This further’s the notion that women must look a certain way in order to be attractive and is harmful to the majority of women who do not have that “perfect body”.
Instead of empowering women with their clothing choices and promoting body-acceptance, Victoria’s Secret chose to objectify women by stating that if they choose to wear their products, it will put a smile on someone else’s face instead of their own and will have them fall victim to the male gaze. With the positions that these companies hold in influencing a large population of people, they have the power to promote positive ideas instead of harmful ones such as these.
This ad may have influenced women to go out and buy these items, therefore benefitting this large corporation that already holds so much power in the women’s undergarment industry. To take that power back, I wanted to jam this ad for people to see that while the company’s intentions may have not been harmful, we can always counter what they say and use our power to turn it back on them.
I chose to jam this ad using sarcasm by adding in the words “..by purchasing and wearing our over-priced and impractical lingerie!”. I decided to play with the words that were used to promote the original message and added the realities of buying from this company, which are low quality and mass made garments that are expensive and often times designed not for comfort, but for visual appeal. While I do respect each of us has the right to decide what we do and do not put on our bodies, I wanted to take aim at the less-than satisfactory quality and high prices of the garments that Victoria’s Secret sells.
This short-sighted advertising from Victoria’s Secret highlights their specifically chosen audience and their attempt to objectify women with the items that they are marketing. Sarcastically enhancing the original misogynistic ad that is aimed towards women whose sole purpose is apparently to please men shows resistance to these ideas and undermines their message.