Not So Pretty In PINK

PINK Bus stairs reading, Pink Campus Tour 2016. Your School. Your Pink. #pinkbus. Follow vspink on snapchat and instagram

By Chloe Rigg

Clothing has been an ever-changing part of society–practically changing with every generation. Some styles have been more bizarre then others, “‘Many [a woman] makes two breastbags [bags for the breasts], with them she roams the streets, so that all the young men that look at her, can see her beautiful breasts; But whose breasts are too large, makes tight pouches, so there is no gossip in the city about her big breasts.’” Though it might sound like a medieval rap lyric, this quote is from a 15th century satirical piece about women’s “bras” at the time. Though having vast knowledge on 15th century clothing might be a cool icebreaker, you don’t have to look far back into history to see how lingerie companies have affected women’s body image and self-esteem.

Earlier in the week, another Women’s Center blogger took a deeper look into why the PINK bus on campus was a good thing, and it doesn’t make you a bad feminist to support it. Because every argument has two {or multiple} sides, I will be discussing the negative aspects of the campus PINK bus.

PINK is Victoria’s Secret’s clothing line, known for relaxing or workout clothes. But, its brand is heavily tied to Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie line. Sure, sweatpants and sports bras might not be objectifying. However, the broader lingerie line is. The models working for Victoria’s Secret have strict requirements, and the chance that even a successful model could make it on an ad is rare. To start off, models must be between 5’8 and 6’0. Which doesn’t sound too bad, but the weight limit for these women is 115 to 125 lbs. To put that in perspective, I am 5’9 and the standard healthy weight for a woman my height is 130-160 lbs. At 6’0 the healthy weight is 140-170 lbs. On top of being underweight and extremely skinny, these models are still heavily Photoshopped. To show the difference, some photos from a 2017 Victoria Secret Angels fashion show, compared to un-Photoshopped campaign showcasing inclusion of all women’s body shapes. Fashion companies are marketing clothing to the “everyday” woman, so wouldn’t they want models who resemble their main clientele? This idea would make sense to most people. Be that as it may, the “perfect woman” is a marketing strategy for many large-scale companies.

Money defines Beauty

Today’s capitalist society is what drives the sexual objectivity of women. Women wouldn’t feel pressured to buy beauty products if society emphasized self-love and confidence. Ideal models, photoshop, and sexualization are all marketing ploys to shame women into thinking they need that product in pursuit of society’s “ideal beauty” {which isn’t humanly possible, anyway}. College is a place to learn and grow and should be free of the bombardment of sexualized ads that are present in the everyday female life. The last thing I want is to be pressured to shop for overpriced, size 0 swimsuits on my way to math class. Which brings me to another strike against the campus PINK bus…

 

The price.

The average college student is tight on money. Therefore, cheaper is better. To demonstrate this, I shopped online at Victoria Secret for a bra, panties, and a beauty product such as perfume, makeup, etc. (A completely reasonable shopping list for a woman my age.) The total cost, before shipping= $111.10. For three items! For someone like me, who only has $30 in their bank account at any given time, these prices are completely unreasonable. What college student has $60-$100 to spend on some swimsuits in February? Moving on, how does price factor into beauty standards and body image?

A hypothetical situation could help put this into perspective.

A University of Idaho student, Abbi, is walking to class with a group of friends when they see the PINK bus. All her friends are immediately drawn to the bus, and conversation about spring break trips are beginning to circulate around campus. Abbi feels awkward about going over to the bus, considering her swimsuit shopping usually involves Walmart or Old Navy. Despite this, she follows her friends to the PINK bus, because she feels embarrassed to tell them of her less than desirable financial status. All her friends have parents’ money to spend at will. Now at the bus, Abbi keeps her hopes up for a moderately priced item. Sadly, the only item that sparks Abbi’s interest is available in size 0 and is $60. $60 for a couple patches of fabric you wear to the beach maybe a handful of times in the summer. So, expecting a normal day of classes, Abbi comes away with a feeling of embarrassment, shame, and exclusion: both for her economic standing and body shape.

Victoria’s Secret’s PINK bus should not be allowed on campus because of their lack of inclusion. From their styles, prices, and advertising, Victoria’s Secret markets for a very specific clientele. So, what do these ideal clients have in common? One can infer that:

  1. Women shopping at Victoria’s Secret should be as tall and thin as possible, even if that means being unhealthy.
  2. Women should be from a richer background, (at least middleclass), to have the $60 + to spend on a swimsuit or lingerie whenever they please.
  3. Because of the racially driven poverty status in the U.S., these women should be white.

To conclude, how does a company catering to rich, pretty, white women  help further society’s acceptance and support of positive body image?

            It doesn’t.

I believe one thing for sure. The ideals portrayed by the PINK bus should not be anywhere near a college campus.

—Campuses should be a place of diversity and acceptance.

—A place where individuals have a chance to define themselves based on their abilities and passions.

—Not a place where what they look like or how much money they have in their pocket defines them.

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