The Perfect Body: In The Eyes of The Fashion Industry
IS there such a thing as the perfect body? This age-old question has been in the forefront of people’s minds recently due to a Victoria’s Secret ad for their new range of bras called ‘Body’. The tagline, ‘The Perfect Body‘, has been causing debate across the female community, some of whom have accused the company of body shaming. While I am completely opposed to body shaming in every way, I think this particular story has gotten out of hand.
The billboard in question pictures a line of gorgeous Victoria’s Secret models in the Body range of underwear with the ‘offensive’ tagline sprawled in front. I just don’t see the big deal. The word ‘body’ is in quotation marks, inferring that it is the name of the new range and cementing the fact that it is a play on words.
In this instance, I think that the people demanding it be changed have overreacted. This is just a marketing ploy that has gotten a negative reaction, but you know what they say: no publicity is bad publicity. To me, the advert was just conveying the message that Victoria’s Secret has created the perfect bra. However, the tagline has been changed after a petition and campaign to pull the ad was started with the hashtag #iamperfect sweeping through social media. No public apology has been made by the company but the advert now reads ‘A Body for Every Body’.
While I understand the outrage that it has caused – no one should be made feel bad about the way they look by anybody – I think this is a case that got a little out of hand. Nonetheless, it has opened up the discussion about how the media perceives a perfect body and how we are sub-conciously made to believe that we are too fat, too short, too tall, too skinny, too anything that doesn’t fit in with the manufactured ideal.
Myla Dalbesio was recently featured in a Calvin Klein advert as a ‘plus-size’ model. As a US size 10, this again sparked outrage across the social media world, with people questioning how she could be classed as plus sized. Myla has spoken out in defence of the new campaign. She said, “It’s not like [Calvin Klein] released this campaign and were like, ‘Whoa, look, there’s this plus-size girl in our campaign’. They released me in this campaign with everyone else; there’s no distinction. It’s not a separate section for plus-size girls.”
While Calvin Klein never alluded to her size and just simply placed her next to the ‘straight-sized’ models, the public has reacted to the campaign again negatively. This is one of the first times that a ‘plus size’ model has been used without her size being referred to. In fact, the only attention drawn to her size has been by the public. To me that says a lot more about us and our attitudes towards size than the fashion industry’s attitude towards the women they use in their campaigns.
While usually models are grouped by their size, Calvin Klein released all the models together with no reference to their size or shape. Myla has admitted to not really fitting in with the traditional model ‘waif’ look or the plus-sized ‘curvy’ models. She’s stuck in the middle but that hasn’t stopped the public going crazy over her being categorised as plus-sized.
Vogue.com recently published a photo series featuring plus-size models. This is being seen as a positive portrayal of women of all shapes and sizes including plus-size ladies. Vogue is not known for featuring the larger lady but their homepage now states “Give me a D! Give me an F! Because Gorgeous Bras Come in All Shapes and Sizes.” This is their way of showing that all women are beautiful and it is definitely a step in the right direction.
The plus-size market is growing every day and we are seeing more and more plus-sized models on our runways, magazine covers and fashion campaigns. Unfortunately what is being considered as plus size is also shrinking. Today a plus-size model is anyone who is a size 8 and up. In the real world, most plus-size clothing doesn’t even start until a size 16.
As a plus-size woman myself, I think that the fashion industry is taking one step forward and two steps back. They are getting there but very, very slowly. But we have a part to play as well if we want this issue of body shaming to be resolved. It is about time that we stop pulling each other apart for our size, big or small and start learning that size doesn’t matter. As long as you’re happy in your skin, no fashion magazine, billboard or ad campaign can tell you that you have to look a certain way. We need to stop comparing ourselves to models, friends and strangers on the street and realise that beauty doesn’t have a weight limit.
Photos c/o farandula.com, styleite.com