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Victoria's Secret Backlash: The Problem With Getting Women to Celebrate Their Imperfections

04/11/2014 13:39 GMT | Updated 04/01/2015 10:59 GMT

The backlash to the recent Victoria Secrets campaign, which featured a row of slim models with 'The Perfect Body' stamped over their midriffs, while welcome, needs a lesson in using the right vocabulary.

There were two well-intentioned campaigns: one on Change.org using the hashtag #IamPerfect and the other a counter-campaign by retailer JD Williams which used hashtag #ImperfectlyPerfect.

But as necessary as these two Twitter campaigns are, we must remove the words perfect and imperfect from a discussion around body image.

We learn the idea of imperfection from a young age, and typically at school. If you were really unlucky, it was the thing that bullies honed in on like a drone missile and then used it to make your life miserable for the next seven years.

But most of us didn't even need the bullies - we did that to ourselves. Correction, are still doing it to ourselves.

The moment you first honed in on one particular area on your body or face (in my case, it was the hereditary dark circles that made me feel like a blighted Panda) was the point you started measuring yourself against a barometer of beauty used to make women feel rubbish about themselves.

I would like to say that this gets easier as we get older, and while I may not notice my dark circles so much (largely because I use a shit hot concealer), most of us have mums and aunts who are still not happy with their bodies or their faces.

perfect bod

The #IamPerfect hashtag had a lot of women tweeting very empowering, relatable things such as "Everyone has a right to love their skin" and "No 'body' is perfect". But the hashtag scores an own goal.

We're not talking about perfectionism here, nor are we expecting every woman to prance about as if they were in a Bodyform ad screaming about how much they love their bodies.

It's human to not like everything about yourself - in fact it would be weird if you didn't. But just as this argument didn't quite work for the plus size debate (it's impossible to champion celebrating bodies of all sizes when we are in the grip of a very serious obesity epidemic), it can't work for the 'I'm perfection' debate. Because we - I - know that we aren't.

What needs to happen next is for us to realise that if we're not happy with something about ourselves, that it needs to be for some other reason than because we don't have the legs of Gisele Bundchen or the skin of Naomi Campbell.

It's buying into this archaic system of perfection and imperfection that has allowed Victoria Secrets to peddle such bullshit in the first place.