Perfect body? New Victoria's Secret lingerie adverts spark outrage


Radhika Sanghani

Victoria's Secret's new ad has sparked a petition calling for it be amended.

Victoria's Secret's new ad has sparked a petition calling for it be amended. Photo: FRANCES BLACK

New Victoria’s Secret adverts suggesting that their slim models have ‘the perfect body’ have come under fire for their “unhealthy and damaging message”.

The American lingerie company has launched a marketing campaign to go along with its new bra range, entitled ‘Body’.

But the ads - which show models with the phrase “The Perfect ‘Body’” emblazoned across their torsos - have sparked a petition, which has already gathered more than 500 signatures since it began last week.

Frances Black, a student at Leeds University, began the petition calling for Victoria’s Secret to 'apologise for, and amend the irresponsible marketing of [its] new bra range'.


“I just think it’s a really, really damaging message to send to young women,” said Black, 22. 

“A brand like Victoria’s Secret is hugely popular, and they mainly market to young women.

“It’s really hurtful to women’s self-esteem. I’d like them to apologise and take accountability for choosing the wrong words for the campaign.

“I’d like them to amend the wording and pledge not to use such harmful language in the future.”

Black saw the advert when she was walking through her local shopping centre in Leeds.

She decided to launch the petition along with fellow students Gabriella Kountourides and Laura Ferris.

It states: “Every day women are bombarded with advertisements aimed at making them feel insecure about their bodies, in the hope that they will spend money on products that will supposedly make them happier and more beautiful.

“Victoria’s Secret’s new advertisements for their range of bras Body use this tactic, and send out a damaging message by positioning the words ‘The Perfect ‘Body’’ across models of exactly the same, very slim body type.” 

A screenshot from Victoria's Secret's website.

The Victoria’s Secret adverts come as a new study showed that 10 million women feel ‘depressed’ over their body image in the UK.

Black said that she’s suffered from low self-esteem over her body image, and had witnessed it in young women growing up.

It’s why her petition states that the advert “endorses dangerous beliefs about women’s bodies and their value, which contributes to a culture that promotes serious health problems such as low self-esteem, negative body image and eating disorders”.

Hundreds have already pledged their support to the petition since it began last Wednesday.

Most of the comments state that Victoria’s Secret is body shaming women.

The adverts are on display in the company's UK stores, as well as on its main US website, and use a play on words to suggest that the bra – named ‘Body’ – is perfect.

“It’s not even a good pun,” said Black. “I think it’s pretty obvious that they were trying to portray the message that these women have the perfect body.”

Recent advertising campaigns in Britain have fought back against body shaming, including the Coppafeel campaign, which showed images of real women's boobs outside Westfield Shopping Centres last month.

One of the Coppafeel ads

The main aim of the campaign was to normalise breasts - often sexualised in the media and pornography - by helping women to reclaim the vocabulary surrounding their bodies.

Comments on the Victoria's Secret petition suggest this message is something advertisers would do well to consider:

'I have two daughters who might think perfect looks like this!'

'This is a bad message to send in a world that is increasing body critical. People should be helped to embrace their bodies rather than told they aren't good enough'.  

- Telegraph, UK