Friday, November 7, 2014

Where's the Rejection?

Should Victoria’s Secret be forced to apologize for an unrealistic advertisement or should they be applauded?

This question came to mind as I read about a number of reactions to their “perfect body” campaign.  The ads with very skinny models in skimpy attire was met with outrage – not surprising, since being offended and outraged has become a new national pastime.  In this case, the outrage is directed at Victoria’s Secret and other advertisers who present an unrealistic body image as a supposed goal for all women.  "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.”  This can be unhealthy as well as a financial drain.  “According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), research has shown that the media has a strong influence on a woman's body image.”  (I’m surprised no one has protested against the comic strip “Blondie” where the title character appears to have a 20-inch waist, her daughter is a knockout and neither of them ever age – but I digress.)

There is an on-line petition available, now with over 25,000 signatures, demanding an apology.  Besides the health and financial issues, women don’t want their daughters growing up with a poor self-image.

So why would anyone suggest that they be applauded?  This seems counterproductive, and it would deprive all those thousands of women the satisfaction of being outraged and demanding an apology.

A group called Confidence Coalition is quoted to further the rationale for disparaging this campaign as a negative influence  “According to the Confidence Coalition, 90% of all women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, and a girl is bullied every seven minutes in the schoolyard, playground, stairwell, classroom or bathroom. The coalition is an international awareness campaign that pushes women and girls to reject peer pressure and horrible stereotypes in the media.”

Note the last sentence.  Their objective is to push women to reject all this stuff, not to be outraged and demand apologies, but to reject.  Perhaps they follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s philosophy:  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  They encourage women to take control of their lives, to start appreciating their strengths without comparing, and not to be manipulated by the likes of Victoria’s Secret or any other advertiser.  Such a stance would be very scary to all advertisers.  Beyond the fashions, makeup and jewelry, perhaps women would even go so far as to convince their sons that they don’t need to buy the latest videogame the day it comes out, or convince their husbands that the smartphone they have or the car they drive does not have to be replaced/upgraded to the latest model just to keep up with the neighbors.  Women adopting this uncommon strength in the dimension of perspective have the possibility of turning the whole world of marketing around.  Ignoring Victoria’s Secret would be at least as effective and far healthier than protesting.

The “perfect body” campaign is the perfect starting point.  It may just provide the incentive needed, an excellent negative example of what to reject, not by petition, but by adopting a new approach and new behavior.  Don’t get upset, reject and ignore; and teach your daughters and the rest of the family to do the same!  So, good for you Victoria’s Secret!  Thanks for giving everyone an opportunity to start heading in the right direction.

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