The news about Victoria’s Secret sourcing cotton that is picked by unpaid and abused foster children in Burkino Faso was hardly shocking, but nonetheless depressing. Especially because the cotton is question is organic, fair trade cotton- isn’t that what I’m all about- eco fashion? Companies going green? But green is about sustainability and fair labor conditions and workers who are paid fair wages and live in dignity, not children slaving away for free picking cotton by hand while models are marketing their slave labor through insecurity and photoshop- that is corporate greed and greenwashing.
First of all mega mega kudos to Bloomberg news and reporter Cam Simpson for uncovering and reporting this story. It is so important to highlight corporate greenwashing, in order to create positive change. On the one hand, how great that VS finally decided to add some sustainably sourced cotton to its clothes, considering conventional cotton is the most toxic crop in the world. But where is the due diligence- why can’t a company that big have somebody actually going to the fields and the factories on fact finding missions before all the greenwashing PR CSR baloney gets spouted about rainfed cotton supporting African women? Or pay me, I’ll go, write a report and tell you how to cost effectively improve and green your supply chain FOR REAL!
I recently received a Victoria’s Secret gift card and sighed- because besides this child labor scandal, and their lack of sustainable fabrics and processes in general, I personally dislike VS for promoting negative body image through their hyperphotoshopped, hypersexualized ‘angel’ campaigns where they tout models whose bodies all look the skinny same, not showing body type and body image diversity- yes I believe that does not create healthy role models for girls and women. But this is the whole point isn’t it, it’s the dream, the illusion that sells. The illusion of an impossible body, the illusion of cheap, yet a little bit eco-friendly undies that help poor African farmers. vomit.
I think the time of the illusion is coming to an end- consumers in the US are waking up about the photoshopped advertising, the bogus marketing, the false misinformation and the bogus sustainability claims. I’ve posted some VS photoshop fail images here, and this is not me picking on the skinny models, though they carry some responsibility – (they could choose not to sell their bodies for VS, or choose to not allow their images to be photoshopped, or choose to support sustainable companies)! This is about us consumers becoming aware of the the bogusness of these images and greenwashing claims, and choosing to not spend our hard earned money perpetuating this cycle of female exploitation.
Image above- look at her shoulders, and where are her ribs? Image 2- her thighs are carved out & not connected to her body. Image 3- oops, her arm is missing. You figure out how real these images are. We get marketed this BS AND now we’re told we’re supporting the slave labor of children- ENOUGH! We want the real thing and why not? We’re the market and we have the power to create change.
As female consumers we want to know we can trust claims about fairtrade and sustainability, but there was a report done about the fairtrade situation in Burkina Faso- why didn’t anybody at VS read it? Why didn’t they investigate? Where is their CSR department and what are they doing? Working on next year’s VS Runway Show and gluing angel wings for the models?
Do they really think we will just lap up their token sustainable claims and buy their low quality underwear? Yes, sadly we do, because we need underwear and their bloody stores and ads are everywhere, but once I’ve spent my gift card, I can tell you that I will not be shopping at VS -just the smell of their cheap toxic cosmetics and lotions makes me want to gag.
So my challenge to VS is: send LivLuna on a mission to help you create a line of completely green, sustainable quality underwear and cosmetics, modeled by women who don’t spend 2 hours a day doing Tracy Anderson and barely eat, but by VS customers, real women who are really sexy and really have some curves, (or not), but at least something real and different from the same same cyborgs who have no skin folds, no cellulite, no ribs and no bones! Or at least stop photoshopping your same same models and let women see that when you’re that thin, your bones stick out- you’re not smooth like that. I bet you’ll start hiring some ‘plus sized’ models to smooth things out.
Call it Victoria, and see how it sells ok. God I wish I could spend my gift card on THAT, not on the fake crap. Cos I really need some new underwear, since my VS undies have fallen apart because they’re made so badly…
Are you over VS? Do you care about their airbrushed ads, or their greenwashing? Will you keep shopping there? Comment and tell me what you think. I am so over them. I’d love to paintball their photoshopped NYC billboards 😉
Read more about body image in my blog post ‘no one wants to see curvy women?’