Semiotics is the “science of signs”. Behind every sign are connotations and denotations, also known as signifiers and the signified. Signifiers are the literal meaning of the image; what we see first and the signified is our interpretation of the image.
The hashtag #iamperfect was taking over twitter in response to Victoria Secret’s ‘Perfect “Body”’ Campaign, which came out in October 2014.
Featured in the campaign is a group of models wearing their new line of underwear labelled ‘Body’ with a tagline centred in the image that read ‘The Perfect “Body”’. It was advertised in stores and on their website shortly before causing major controversy.
This image can be decoded in a number of ways, in ways the producer may not have originally encoded, and these connotations may differ for each of us due to our varying contexts. Looking at this image, my eyes jumped straight to their bodies. Advertising ‘the perfect “body”’ through a group of Victoria’s Secret models is sending a destructive message out to women. Each model is the same size as the next, negatively morphing young girls and women’s ideas about the idea of ‘perfection’ and ‘self-love’. We are in a world where females of all ages are constantly being faced with body shaming and being told their body doesn’t ‘measure up’ to society’s standards, and Victoria’s Secrets campaign has added to this by putting out a damaging message.
‘“There is a line between aspiration and thinspiration, and this campaign clearly oversteps the mark,” columnist Sarah Vine writes in ‘The Daily Mail’. “As for their use of the word ‘perfect’, it’s not only offensive to the 99.9% of the female population who don’t share the models’ ‘perfect’ proportions, it’s also deeply irresponsible, if not downright cruel.”’ (Peterson, H 2014)
All the controversy led to a blow up of the hashtag #iamperfect on Twitter. An online petition was also started along with the hashtag, demanding an official apology from Victoria’s Secret. The hashtag aimed at spreading body positivity amongst women of all shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds.
Victoria’s Secret came back at this backlash saying their Campaign was a play on words, showing there is multiple connotations. ‘The perfect “body”’ was (supposedly) meant to be decoded as their lingerie line (named ‘Body’) being “a perfect fit, perfect comfort and perfectly soft”, so really they weren’t talking about the models’ bodies in the tagline that states ‘perfect’, but they were talking about the lingerie itself.
The petition reached its goal shortly after being created and Victoria’s Secret ended up changing their Campaign to ‘A body for every body’, which sends out a much less damaging image to women.
Andersen, CH 2014, ‘#iamperfect Backlash is Perfect Answer to Victoria’s Secret “Perfect Body” Campaign’, viewed 21/3/18, https://www.shape.com/blogs/shape-your-life/iamperfect-backlash-perfect-answer-victorias-secret-perfect-body-campaign
Bahadur, N 2014, ‘Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ Campaign Changes Slogan After Backlash’, viewed 22/3/18, https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/victorias-secret-perfect-body-campaign_n_6115728
Peterson, H 2014, ‘Victoria’s Secret Sparks Outrage With ‘Perfect Body’ Campaign’, viewed 21/3/18, https://www.businessinsider.com.au/victorias-secret-perfect-body-campaign-2014-10?r=US&IR=T