You might not have noticed, but Victoria’s Secret is in the business of selling what used to called women’s unmentionables.
To do so it has always shown its products being worn by women who are exquisitely beautiful and perfectly proportioned.
To be fair, women of all sizes and shapes flock to Victoria’s Secret to buy what it is selling. The company is notably successful.
Apparently, the women who choose to shop at Victoria’s Secret are not offended or repulsed by the fact that their bodies do not exactly look like Gisele Bundchen’s or Tyra Banks’s.
Clearly, the store is offering them a way to feel sexy and they have embraced it. If they shop there, in stark defiance of feminist scolds like Naomi Wolf, who am I to complain or to criticize? After all, it’s a free market and, if they do not like what VS is selling, garments and image, they can shop elsewhere.
If you respect women you should also respect their decisions. Otherwise you will find yourself mired in paranoid thinking, accusing women of having been manipulated by the patriarchy to buy things that they hate in order to placate the male gaze.
Since science—you remember that—tells us that the male of the human species is more attuned to the physical appearance of a potential mate, it makes some sense that women are attuned to the male gaze and that men are not attuned to the female gaze.
Of course, if you accept the feminist party line you will have to believe that women are so easily duped or so completely enthralled to the male gaze that they are dispossessed of their rational faculties and free will is too misogynistic for me.
In the meantime, you have doubtless heard that Victoria’s Secret recently released a new ad entitled, “The Perfect Body.”
I reproduce it here, but only so you know what we are talking about.
Evidently, it contains ten fashion models showing off their good looks, their good figures and their undergarments.
Is this the way all women look in their underwear? I have it on excellent authority that such is not the case.
Is this the way most women like to think of themselves when they are buying unmentionables? This is closer to the truth.
Of course, the ad provoked an outcry, especially in radical feminist quarters. The objection, not entirely without merit, is that women who seek perfection sometimes do harm to their bodies in a vain effort to make their bodies resemble what they see on Victoria’s Secret models.
Indeed, this happens sometimes, but one suspects that the deeper issue is whether today’s women are somehow embarrassed about their femaleness because they believe that it irrevocably sets them apart from men. One also wonders how many of today’s women, brought up on a steady diet of feminism, really like being women or really like being attractive to men.
You might argue, correctly, that there is more to a woman than being attractive to men, but you should add that very, very few women want to be unattractive to their boyfriends or husbands. And precious few of them want to be seen as they really, really are… warts and all. Most women want to use their appearance and their clothing to manipulate the male gaze.
Apparently, feminists have not learned this lesson.
They still see femininity as a mystique that they need to discard in order to lead the way to a brave new world where everyone will be equally neutered.
Anyway, a company called Dear Kate has countered the VS ad with one of its own. You see, Dear Kate also makes women’s unmentionables. It does not traffic in beauty or in sexiness or femininity. It tries to appeal to women who have gone beyond all of those things and do not much care how they look to men.
Again, Dear Kate has every right to do as it pleases. Women have every right to buy its image. DK will be judged by women, in the marketplace and not by male gazers.
For your edification, here’s Dear Kate’s view of the female body in a response to VS.
Or better, here is the opening page of DK's website:
Apparently, the models in the DK ads do not need or want bras. I have no idea what that means.
True enough, women come in all shapes and sizes. So do men. But, so what?
Is that what women really want, to see themselves as they look to an objective and neutered gaze?
Or is it more about feeling sexy, no matter how you look? And do women feel sexier thinking of themselves in the Dear Kate ad or in the VS ad?
The market will tell.