Tag Archives: bodies

Victoria’s Secret vs. Dove: Or, how companies appropriate body-positivity to sell you more stuff

The above image has been going around Facebook to the same devastating results as the “When did this…become hotter than this…?” meme. Both images were taken from advertising and marketing campaigns by two large companies, Dove and Victoria’s Secret, who have been appropriating body positivity to continue to profit off of people’s insecurities. While the sale of false body positivity is all I see in these images, Facebook responded positively to Dove’s ad campaign and negatively to Victoria’s Secret’s.

These reactions of “ew, gross, way too skinny” about the VS models are not at all body-positive, and the celebration of Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign gives them far too much credit.

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign showcases women whose bodies fall on the societally acceptable side of normal. While people love to tell a size 0 VS model to “eat a damn sandwich,” the same people appreciate Dove’s campaign, which only celebrates the size 6, size 8, size 10, maybe size 12 curves of a conventionally attractive woman. Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign is just a marketing front for selling a line of “firming creams” to women with insecurities about “flab” and cellulite. Does Dove’s campaign ad show a few more women of color, a few more “curvy” women, and a little bit less retouching than Victoria’s Secret’s ads do? Yes. But is Dove really the savior of women everywhere whose self-esteem is continuously torn down by our culture and media? Not a chance.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign has been around for a few years now and the criticisms of it are widely documented. Now, Victoria’s Secret–the cultural gatekeeper of sexual perfection and unattainable bodies–has weakly used body-positive language to sell bras to women who may worry that their partners prefer watching the VS fashion show to looking at their imperfect bodies. Even though “I Love My Body” is very weakly tied to actual bodies– the bras they are selling as called “Body” bras, so really it’s just “I Love My Bra”– the use of a body-positive statement to sell products is offensive.

Dove, Victoria’s Secret, and those who celebrate these campaigns need to understand that loving your body, appreciating real beauty, and being body-positive is incompatible with buying products to make you do so. These pathetic marketing campaigns continue to profit off our insecurities when the truth is that self-esteem cannot be bought. The same fake endorsements of body-positivity can be seen in Julia Bluhm and Spark Summit’s recent “success” in getting Seventeen Magazine to stop airbrushing models. While Seventeen talks the talk with its diplomacy with Bluhm and its “Body Peace Treaty,” the magazine cannot celebrate real bodies because it makes its business by advertising to girls that they need certain products to be prettier, cooler, sexier, and more desirable.

What is the solution to this? We all need to buy soap or lotion or those special halter-back bras from Victoria’s Secret; companies make a business selling us things. So buy the things you need–but don’t let them convince you that you “need” something to make you sexier, prettier, more confident, or more desirable. Be critical of advertising and don’t fall for the celebration of “body-positive advertising” that is just another front for manipulative marketing. Criticize the sexism, the airbrushing, and the message that you are not good enough. And don’t tell the VS model to eat a sandwich.

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Filed under advertising, body image, feminism, gender, sexism, Uncategorized

Fat-Shaming Sunday

In a deviation from Slut-Shaming Sunday, today I will highlight a few terrible things that people think are okay to say about “fat” people, especially “fat” women.

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Filed under body image, cultural anthropology, feminism, gender, sexism

Sexist Ad Saturday: Bikini Bodies?

“Women’s magazines” have a way of inspiring body hate year-round, from featuring tips on how to avoid gaining weight over the winter holidays to their fixation on “bikini bodies” from the first moment Punxsutawney Phil pokes his head out of a long winter.

In my teenage years I dreaded bathing suit situations, especially when I’d be around other girls who were constantly comparing bodies. Since I ditched the women’s magazines at the beginning of 2009, my skepticism of the alleged “perfect bikini body” has grown. What exactly does a “bikini body” look like? Why do women need to change their bodies just to wear a functional (if revealing) piece of clothing? Why must our bodies be first and foremost something to be seen?

Why are “bikini body” diet and workout tips often linked to “confidence”? This phrasing implies that we should only be confident about our appearances if we are perfectly thin, toned, and hairless. Can’t we be confident about our bodies without changing them or fitting into some arbitrary body norm?

When we put all our energy and concern into how we look for the pleasure of others, we lose that energy that wants to do, help, create, and change the world around us. Don’t fall for the futile search for the perfect body. Cast off harmful media like women’s magazines and body-negative health and fitness blogs and learn to love your body for what it does rather than what it looks like.

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Filed under body image, feminism, gender, sexism