Thin Evidence

Victoria's Secret's new ad campaign proclaims, "There's a body for everybody." So why are their models skinnier than ever?

A few nights ago, I was curled up on the couch with my boyfriend when the new Victoria’s Secret commercial popped on the screen, promoting the sexy lingerie purveyor’s newest set of shirt-busting pushups. The theme, “Body for Everybody, Love Your Body,” was overtly evident as each perfectly slender, curvy-only-in-the-chest model seductively said “I love my body,” over and over, complete with the famous hair tossing, lip biting, and seductive posing that VS commercials are so well known for. [SIGNUP]

I sat up on my sweatshirt-covered elbow as the final “There’s a body for everybody” whispered through the living room. “Are they serious?” I asked, shaking my head in disbelief, my completely un-sexy ponytail bouncing for emphasis. “Body for everybody? Please. They’re, like, complete carbon copies of one another. And when did they get so skinny?”

I proceeded to divulge what I had noticed a few nights ago as I was walking down Chestnut Street. It was chilly and almost dark, and I was hurrying toward Broad to catch a bus that would take me home when I saw it: A visible thighbone practically poking through the skin of one bronzed and extremely long leg on one of Victoria’s Secrets’ window-length advertisements. Sure, their models have always been thin with envy-inducing cleavage, but the sight of an emaciated leg on one of their models was something I hadn’t noticed before. “Ha,” I thought, slightly annoyed. “Guess Vickie’s models are getting skinnier.” A quick Google search later that night found others also talking about VS vet—and new mom—Alessandra Ambrosio “parading the body of a teenager” in a recent bikini shoot.

The realization surprised me, given the recent issues in Europe with runway models having to adhere to higher, healthier weights, and with Glamour’s recent promise to fill their pages with more realistic-sized women — an action I applaud wholeheartedly and would like to see more of. It’s a sentiment that I hoped would have trickled into VS’s consciousness enough that, at the very least, they might slow down on some of the air brushing. And perhaps, in its own, overly pimped-out way, this campaign was, in fact, intended for good.

But “There’s a body for everybody?” Since when did “everybody” start looking like they’re six feet tall, taut all over, and start wearing C cups? Sure, they are selling these new Body by Victoria bras in sizes 32A-40DD, but they certainly aren’t showing a variety of body types in this new campaign.

Now, before you peg me as the uptight, jealous type, know this: I am wearing a VS bra as I write this. Normally, I don’t mind VS’s sex-driven marketing. It doesn’t speak to me, but I realize it’s not really intended for me. Their commercials, in my opinion, seem more geared toward guys — a cheap, PG-rated, 30-second thrill. I go to VS, honestly, to stock up on decently priced, pretty-enough, basically comfortable items that wear relatively well during their bi-annual sales.

However, VS, if you’re going to do a positive body image campaign, then actually do one. Showcase a few different body types and speak to your female audience in a way that actually connects with them, not the men sitting beside us. Besides, it’s not like there weren’t any gorgeous “plus-size” models to pick from that couldn’t rock a VS’s pushup, complete with some of that VS-level hair tossing and lip biting and bedroom-voice whispering.

I’m not asking Victoria’s Secret to be Dove. But the next time they decide to go for a positive body image campaign, I would hope they would give it a little bit more thought.

JENNA BERGEN is Philly Mag’s health and fitness editor.