Friday, March 18, 2011

Victoria's Secret is Beach Ready- Am I?

Yesterday, I received one of Victoria Secret's weekly e-blasts. I usually just delete the emails unless they announce some special sale or something of that nature, but this week, the subject heading caught my attention.

"Victoria Secret is Beach Ready, Are You?"

Women, what does that do to you? If you're like me, a certain kind of analyzing begins. It's quick and barely noticeable, but it's real and it's condemning. Gmail doesn't automatically load the images from the e-blast, so I first load the email to see what exactly they're talking about. Within in a moment of loading, my assumption is confirmed as my eyes go to the image in the email- a wonderfully thin lady in a cute bikini. Her skin practically glistens and she sports a jeweled belt that perfectly falls across her midriff. Let me be clear, it's not the picture of this woman that's the problem. I know that my size 8 curves look different than hers - she has entirely different physical makeup. But that question "Are you?" rings a bit louder as I - somewhat defeated- answer "Nope. And I'm pretty sure I won't be."

It takes a few minutes to readjust back to what I was doing, but throughout the day, I'm increasingly aware of those "imperfections" that I know all too well.

I've been blessed to have women in my life that are committed to speaking truth. They've equipped me with the tools to renounce the condemnation and walk in the reality that God has made me beautiful. And no, it's not one of those "beautiful on the inside" comments, though I embrace that as well. I am talking about my curves, my hair, my eyes, my nose, my skin, my body is beautiful- if for no other reason but that I have been called lovely by the Lover of my soul.

But, the truth is, many- like 8 million men and women in America- do not have the tools or do not know how to effectively use the tools. 8 million- that's how many people are battling diseases like anorexia and bulimia. 20% of those people - that's 1.6 million daughters, sisters, brothers, friends -will die because of complications associated with their disease. 1.6 million is hard for me to conceptualize in my head, so I go to the next statistic that every 1 in 200 women in America are dealing with anorexia. Every 2-3 in 200 women are dealing with bulimia.

Still hard to conceptualize? How about the fact that every 4 out of 5 women are dissatisfied with the way they look.

So what's the point of all of this? Should I curse Victoria's Secret for putting pretty women in their advertisements? No- it's marketing - and while it may be exploitative (which is a whole different issue), I can't fault them for wanting to do what they think is best for the brand. Here's what their customer service wrote as a response to an email I sent:

"Victoria’s Secret is a brand that celebrates women’s curves. One way we do that is through our models who are physically fit women who we believe portray our image of sexy, sophisticated and forever young."

But- when a brand calls into question the beauty of its customers, I believe it crosses a line, sending millions of women into a self-analytical thought process that can honestly ruin your day and your confidence. So here's what I wrote in response to their response:

I want to be really clear that I am not talking about the fact that there was a thin girl in the ad. I get marketing (the company I work for is one of the better marketing brands in the country), but what I was focusing on was the copy- the words in the subject heading of the email that read "Victoria's Secret's beach ready- are you?"

I know that canned responses are easy here, but please take a minute and read what I wrote:

"I understand that you probably have an incredibly talented copy writer who sits in your creative department - do you think that he/she could take the time to construct a less condemning subject heading? How about "Victoria Secret's Ready for Some Fun in the Sun. Are you?" Something that doesn't call attention to the fact that the reader may not be as slender as the girl in the photo- or create the illusion that she has to be.

In an age where over 8 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, every 1 in 200 American women suffer from anorexia, every 2-3 in 200 American women suffer from bulimia- and 20% (1.6 million people) of those men and women will die because of these disease- can you really afford to ride that line?"

I'd appreciate if you'd answer that concern- which is that words, for women, cut deeper than images. I can look at thin woman and recognize that my size 8 hips don't look like hers. And I'm fine with that. But when a brand asks me to ponder whether or not I am "ready" to wear a bikini, it sends me down a path of second guessing my own curves, my own beauty, my own worth. And I know I'm not unique in this.

Again, the copy is the concern- not the size of the model. Would you please pass THIS message on to the leaders of your marketing team?

Thank you,



Sadie Strausbaugh said...

oh. my. gosh---- i am so, so happy you wrote this message to them!

Amy Carol Wolff said...

Thanks, Sade. Feel free to email them too-

Andreas M. Hofmann said...


Way to follow through on your convictions by taking action, instead of sitting idle. Admirable.


Unknown said...

Sick 'em, daughter 'o mine!!! I've never really like VS anyway. Just another form of soft porn.