Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Victoria's Secret wants your daughters to know what a "perfect body" looks like

I don't expect much from fashion advertising. I know that they're selling an idealized self-image, making people think that you can magically transform into an airbrushed beauty if you just buy their brand. It's a fantasy, like vacation advertising. I get it.

But this mall poster, at the new Victoria's Secret boutique in Ottawa's Rideau Centre, still irked me.

The Rideau Centre, at the nexus of Ottawa's bus routes and downtown business, shopping and tourism streets, is the favoured hangout of teens from across Canada's National Capital Region. This display faces the main escalators that hundreds of young people ride every day. And its implicit message, beneath the pun on the product name, is clear.

More than ever before, today's young women see the female body exposed, critiqued, and brutally shamed in the public and private media to which they are addicted. And the young men grow up in a time when viewing and judging women's bodies is a national pastime.

I'm not a prude. I think that nudity and healthy sexual interest are completely harmless. But setting up impossible visual standards for women (at least, those who don't spend four hours a day in the gym before being digitally smoothed and contoured) and emblazoning the words "the perfect body" over them is bound to cause insecurity in girls and impossible "standards" for the boys who will date them.

Add to this that the Ottawa VS includes the "Pink" sub brand — aimed at 15-to-22 year olds — and this gets even more creepy.

Do better, Victoria's Secret. We know you can.

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