There she is—a perfectly slim body, radiantly flawless skin, a gorgeous face—on an advertisement in a magazine. She’s smiling at you with incandescent teeth, her gazing eyes, and her hair frenzied by winds from heaven. In fact, she is from heaven; she is an angel. Not a real angel of course, but a Victoria’s Secret angel. We all see them, know them, love them, and want to be them.
Women want to be these angels so badly they go to drastic measures to try and change themselves to look like them. Women work out way too hard, eat way too little, and worry way too much about what their bodies look like. They are obnoxiously obsessed, to say the least. The more women obsess over their bodies, the more dangerous it can be for their health. Today, there are as many as 10 million females fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder. It is said that 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance because women don’t accept their bodies for what they are; they feel the need to obtain the “perfect body” models have. This is practically impossible. The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds while the average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds. Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women. How can we set this high of a standard for women’s bodies?
The attainable standard of beauty didn’t just fall out of the sky. So where did this ideal come from? Why is this obsession happening? The answer is simple. It is due to major companies that portray their models as attractive, admirable, ageless, alluring, astonishing angels. Specifically, Victoria’s Secret’s advertisements which are not only in TV commercials, but also saturated in magazines, catalogues, newspapers and billboards. These images attack women by making them feel like if they don’t look like this, they aren’t sexy. To understand these image’s effects on women we first need to understand what factors contribute to why advertisements work. This is the subject of lively debate between biologists, psychologists and marketers. Experts believe different factors affect the use, misuse and effects of ads. Some place emphasis that it’s in our nature to be attracted to this look, while the media still influences our ideal. Others believe that using this look to sell products is a brilliant way to succeed as a company. On the other hand, ads are heavily critiqued and frowned upon by the way it makes women feel and behave. Companies have used our genetic nature to thrive and negatively affect women’s body image. Not only are these views interrelated, but they also prove why businesses should change the way in which they advertise women’s bodies.
The angels used to advertise and represent Victoria’s Secret are yes, beautiful women, but are they real women? If you walk in the streets, or look around you in a restaurant, do you see any woman that look like these models? I know I sure don’t. Companies should use models that actually represent our real population of women, real women. This has been done before when Dove did their real beauty campaign showing women of all ethnicities and all body types. This has been recognized all over America because they went against the social beautiful norm and showed true beauty. Will Victoria’s Secret ever use models of different shapes and sizes? If women see women that they actually look like wearing clothes they could actually wear, will they be more confident in their bodies? Will they be less self conscious to wear a bikini instead of a one piece? One can only hope.