Whether we like it or not, brands are always going to pick from the *lucky* gene pool to advertise their products if they’re allowed to get away with it. Victoria’s Secret is quite rightly under the hammer for their Perfect Body campaign that shows the longest and leanest limbed collection of women that I think I’ve ever seen that in no way represent the majority of women who buy their knickers.
I won’t be the first, nor the last, to wonder at the irresponsibility of a brand that targets a youth market with the unattainable. I’m all for aspirational, but with the best will in the world, my legs won’t grow any longer no matter how much I would like them to.
Body image is a very tricky subject – I do look sometimes at other women and think, ‘you’re way too thin,’ or ‘wow, what fabulous legs,’ or similar things. You can’t help it really – and everyone assesses visually. But in making those casual appraisals I’m highly aware that it’s been programmed into me from childhood – that what I see as too thin or totally gorgeous isn’t something that I’ve formed alone.
Body ideals are ridiculous really – every single body in the whole world is different. No two are identical, so how it is that one particular body type is seen as superior is quite miraculous really. That it just so happened in the big scheme of things, that long limbs are better limbs, that a flatter tummy is a better one and that big boobs are better boobs.
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Nothing about any of these characteristics protects you, health-wise, nothing about them ensures that you’ll be happier, wealthier or more secure. Nothing about them gives you guaranteed joy, makes you a more pleasant or decent person – in fact, other than on the pages of a magazine or a billboard, they count for nothing at all.
And yet, we still think we’d be better off for them. I’d still like longer legs despite being able to rationalise that it’s really not that important in the bigger scheme of things.
How is it that we’re educating girls to think it’s important their butt looks good in a thong? Because we do stand by and let that happen. It’s shocking that we’re such passive bystanders in allowing images like this to be acceptable. We all know, intellectually, that it’s not healthy and it’s far too much pressure for any young girl, but do we actively do anything to make it stop? Not really. I certainly haven’t dashed off a furious email to Victoria’s Secret.
I think we have to take responsibility for the future of body image.. that’s all of us. We can’t just leave it to a few talking heads to speak on behalf of women everywhere. It’s not healthy to be too thin and nor is it healthy to be too fat, but it’s equally unhealthy in a different way to aspire to a body that you’ll genetically never be able to have. And for it to bother you all your life. Because that’s my generation, right there.
Let’s not let stupid marketing people make us stupid too.
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