Close your eyes. Imagine an important woman in your life. What does she look like? Chances are, she’s perfect. But look more closely. Can you see her roots? Zits? Maybe she’s overweight.
Does that mean you love her any less?
Here’s another question: does that mean retailers should alienate her with ad campaigns because she doesn’t fit traditional standards of beauty?
This is what happens in the fashion industry, where size 12 is considered “plus size.” This ignores the fact that size 16 is the average size of American women! In today’s world, retailers have to be aware of how they communicate with their average-sized audience; one company in particular has failed miserably.
In 2014, Victoria’s Secret sparked outrage among women around the world with their “Perfect Body” campaign. The campaign revolved around the launch of the “Body” brand of bras. However, the ads were seen to be more about the bodies of the models who wore the bras.
A petition that called for the retailer to apologize stated, “Victoria’s Secret’s new advertisements play on women’s insecurities and send out a damaging message by positioning the words ‘The Perfect Body’ across models who have exactly the same, very slim body type. This marketing campaign is harmful. It fails to celebrate the amazing diversity of women’s bodies by choosing to call only one body type ‘perfect.’”
Victoria’s Secret changed their slogan to “a body for every body,” but never apologized for the insulting campaign. The new slogan also failed to recognize that their brand does not have bras for “every body.”
In 2015, U.S. retailer Lane Bryant launched the “I’m No Angel” lingerie campaign, a clear dig at the Victoria’s Secret Angels, the most super of the supermodels.
This year, Canadian retailer Addition Elle also pushed back with their fall campaign, entitled “F* This.” Their models encourage Addition Elle’s customers to “shape the fashion democracy.”
The reaction to Victoria’s Secret’s campaign started a surge in the body positivity (#BoPo) movement. Marginalized women are finally starting to feel like they have a voice, and both individuals and companies recognize the value of empowering others through body-positive public relations tactics.
(Photo by Anna Taylor)