It was ironic that while doing the reading for this class, a Victoria’s Secret commercial came on television (The one above is not the exact one that I saw but it is similar in many ways). It could not have been more perfectly placed, because the messages of “Sex, Lies and Advertising” and “The Body Project” play directly to commercials like this. As Gloria Steinem says in her article, despite pertaining mainly to magazines, she says that the way to control the public is through advertising, and that there are clear rules pertaining to advertisements, “rules that are so clear they needn’t be written down: for instance, an overall “look””. This Victoria’s Secret ad above includes women dressed scantily, with stick figure bodies and huge chests. They walk through huge mansions, next to beautiful and expensive cars, and have their hair and makeup done impeccably. It is clear from the title and the words that keep flashing on the screen, “What is sexy?” that this is what is sexy; that in order to be sexy, one needed long legs, huge breasts and underwear that provides minimal coverage. This further relates to “The Body Project”, when the author talks about the “sex appeal” revolution beginning in the 1920’s and the fact that “modern femininity required some degree of exhibitionism, or, at least, a willingness to display oneself as a decorative object”. Victoria’s Secret’s advertisements are just another way that the media reinforces “the ideal body for women”, and a way to promote the status and sense of self of women. I know for a fact from a friend that Victoria’s Secret only carries sizes up to a DD, and it is fairly expensive, which makes it an exclusive place to shop for smaller chested and wealthier women. Furthermore, it is only adding to “anxiety about breasts”, making women who are larger or smaller feel inadequate and not sexy.
Who is to say what is sexy? Each woman and man should get to decide it for themselves.