Victoria's Secret is promoting their new line of bras with the words "The perfect 'body.'" But it appears the lingerie company has a narrow definition of what that is.
Three British students are petitioning the company to apologize for and amend their "irresponsible marketing" campaign after seeing the words positioned over uniformly slender models in mall advertisements.
"We would like Victoria’s Secret to apologise and take responsibility for the unhealthy and damaging message that their ‘Perfect Body’ campaign is sending out about women’s bodies and how they should be judged," the petition begins.
The three women urge the company to change the wording on their advertisements to something that does not promote "unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty" and to pledge to not use "such harmful marketing in the future."
The letter calls out the advertisements for playing on women's insecurities, and says it sends a damaging message by positioning the words 'The Perfect Body' across models who have "exactly the same, very slim body type."
"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," the women write in the petition. "All this does is perpetuate low self-esteem among women who are made to feel that their bodies are inadequate and unattractive because they do not fit into a narrow standard of beauty. It contributes to a culture that encourages serious health problems such as negative body image and eating disorders."
The petition says that since Victoria’s Secret is hugely popular among young women, they have a responsibility to not use "harmful and unhealthy" ideas to market their products.
Victoria's Secret UK did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Other brands have also been the subject of similar criticism – and even boycotts.
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries set off a "cultural backlash" last year after saying his company was primarily interested in "good-looking people." The brand has come under heat for not catering to plus-size teens.
For the past decade, Dove has notably broadened its definition of beauty with women of all shapes and sizes in its ads. In 2005, for example, it ran a series of ads featuring Irene Sinclair, 96-year-old grandmother from London. The Christian Science Monitor reported:
The ads, featuring Sinclair and five other women, represent an attempt to widen the definition of beauty and help women feel good about themselves. As a Dove spokesman says, "It's a campaign to debunk beauty stereotypes. A woman does not have to be 5 feet, 10 inches and perfectly proportioned in a magazine-cover image."