An ad recently put out by the popular Victoria’s Secret lingerie store is coming under attack, and raising questions about whether it represents another case of fat shaming from major companies. Recently, many stores have gotten heat from the public for what is perceived to be ads that portray women who are nearly emaciated, which can surely make young impressionable minds think being very underweight is in fact the way they are supposed to look. The most recent company, Walmart, caught a ton of heat after they promoted “fat girl costumes” on their website.
The ad coming into question now that was put forth by Victoria’s Secret features ten women in their underwear, all of whom are incredibly thin with seemingly identical bodies. On the ad appear the words “The Perfect Body,” written across them. Someone who is of average weight or overweight can view this ad and become incredibly insecure about their own bodies. A change.org petition has been creating asking the store to change the wording on the ads, so that they do not shame people that are not as thin as the women featured on the advertisement.
According to a mountain of studies, including several meta-analyses, this type of marketing is unhealthy for women of all ages. It is setting an unrealistic standard of beauty and putting forth the message that if a woman does not look like these models, then she does not look good at all. This is not the first time that Victoria’s Secret has been in the hot seat over their ads, and the skeletal looking models they use for all of their advertisements. Kylie Bisutti, a former Victoria’s Secret model has spoken out about the harm the lingerie company is causing. She claims that the company exploits women and promotes unhealthy practices in order to keep their models thin. She spoke about the incredible amount of pressure she faced as a model for Victoria’s Secret to stay thin. She was repeatedly called fat and told she needed to lose weight or that she would be fired. Bisutti also admitted to participating in crazy crash diets and very unhealthy things in order to drop the extra weight that did not even exist. In 2013 Bisutti published a book titled I’m No Angel: A Victoria’s Secret Model Looks Back, in which she goes into detail about what she experienced during her time working for the company.
According to WebMD, these kinds of ads are extremely detrimental to the self esteem of girls even as young as five years old. Victoria’s Secret is not the only case of fat shaming. Young girls are exposed to ads like this and think these thin models as the ideal body image, even though it is completely unrealistic. According to Renee Hobbs, EdD, an associate professor of communications at Temple University, parents need to communicate with their children about these images. The average teenage girl has roughly ten minutes of interaction with their parents on a daily basis, yet they are viewing about 180 minutes of these types of images through media exposure.
Many of these young girls end up with serious eating disorders and low self esteem as they become extremely dissatisfied with their bodies. Like many of the models Bisutti wrote about in her tell-all book, teenagers take drastic measures in order to get what they perceive to be the ideal body image. Obviously parents cannot control what the media is showing to these young girls, but it is imperative to talk with them about how unrealistic these images, and the way the media portrays women, really are. Co-viewing television shows and internet images is suggested to the parents of young girls. This Victoria’s Secret ad is just one case of fat shaming. These images are likely to always be around, and experts say it is extremely important that girls are taught that these bodies are not ideal, and not perfect, before they develop severe self-esteem issues.
Opinion By: Rebecca Savastio