The Perfect Body
In the interests of scrupulous honesty, let me say that this is not a picture of my current body. If it were, there might be a record number of CONTROL-ALT-DELETEs today (yeah, as if enough people will actually see this post to move the needle. One can only dream). It was taken perhaps thirty years ago when my obsession was running, not writing, as I was approaching the transition area of a triathlon. Oh, I still do triathlons, just of a different sort. These days the three events are blogging, gardening and walking (truth: eating is in there somewhere but doesn’t that sound bad?). So, while you admire the bod I once had, let me talk about an article I saw on the internet (OK, perhaps my current triathlon is surfing the internet, eating and blogging. Which explains my current bod). Apparently, Victoria’s Secret has produced a new advertisement titled The Perfect Body (go figure) that has come in for substantial criticism for sending the wrong message to our young women (go figure). These are the bodies in The Perfect Body commercial, by the way.
Let me give you Older Eyes’ Older perspective on these particular bodies. Obviously, these are beautiful young women, but they need a nice man to take them out to dinner several times a week and explain that they don’t have to starve themselves into looking like refugees in order to be attractive. No, I am not the man for the job, in no small part because said nice man will need to be very rich because the REAL reason these beautiful women starve themselves to so-called perfection is to make millions of dollars as models. It would be interesting to see how thin Older Eyes could be if he could make millions but so far no one’s offered.
With regard to the commercial itself, it does present a horrible message to young women with ordinary bodies, but is it really all that much worse than a million other commercials? Have we ever been able to depend upon the media … and in particular, the commercials in our media … as a source of guidance in our culture? Take a look back at some of the perceptions of The Perfect Body over the last hundred years, here. Are they any better examples for the most of us? Discovering we’re not the prettiest … smartest … most athletic … person in the world has always been part of adolescence. So has learning what’s important. Walk by a Victoria’s Secret and see how many adult women … mothers … are searching though the bins of thongs with the adolescents. Walk by a MAC cosmetics store and see who’s spending zillions of dollars on make-up and then tell me why young girls shouldn’t believe that looks are most important. How many Moms starve themselves to perfection and dress like a woman 20 years younger … then dress their preadolescents girls like someone ten years older? I grew up hearing things like Beauty is only skin deep from adults who acted as if it were true. What are the headlines on women’s magazines, other than recipes? Yep, The Amazing Rutabega Diet and How to Choose a Hairstyle to Fit Your Face. When the adult women in our society stop looking for the perfect body and the perfect look, not only will the media change its tune, our young women will learn to follow suite. Until then, things like petitions to Victoria’s Secret are just wishful whisperings in the wind.
That what I think. How about you?