I came up with the idea for this article after recalling a conversation that I had with a friend back in high school. It was the beginning of December, and she had asked if I had watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show the night before. I raised my eyebrows and looked at her in disbelief. Upon seeing my reaction, my friend laughed, admitting that she had watched the show with her mom, and that it was a yearly tradition for them both. She went on to add that they liked to discuss different elements such as the models and outfits (or lack thereof, if you know what I mean). I was speechless.
Growing up, I never cared much for the VS fashion shows. I still don’t put much stock into them. Sure, it’s nice to watch tall, leggy models wearing sparkling bras walk down a runway, but I never thought about who would be in the show or the number of Swarovski crystals that were in the $3 million Fantasy Bra. For me, the entire spectacle was designed to rake in profits and lower women’s self-esteem. I thought of Victoria’s Secret CEO Ed Razek as Hugh Hefner 2.0, the former who was always photographed with models backstage, grinning cheekily into the camera.
The one positive that I can draw from these shows is that they have attempted to include women who represent different ethnicities. Models such as Liu Wen and Maria Borges have added some much-needed diversity to a brand that has been criticized in the past of not being inclusive enough. Although Victoria’s Secret still has a long way to go in this regard, at least they’re trying.
One of the more concerning problems I’ve found with this particular annual fashion show is its blatant over-sexualization and unrealistic portrayal of women. I understand that Victoria’s Secret is primarily a lingerie company, yet I find the use of tall, stick-thin models in its marketing campaigns demoralizing for many women who do not have the same body shape. The fashion show is a prime example of this practice, and it’s a major reason why I continue to oppose it.
So where do we go from here? How do we improve self-confidence and promote positive body image if companies such as Victoria’s Secret go against these values? One recommendation that I fully support would be to incorporate models with a diversity of body shapes – skinny, curvy, whatever they may be. Each woman should know that she is beautiful, unique and strong. I urge Victoria’s Secret to encourage all women to be confident in themselves no matter their body type or the clothes that they wear.