Is Victoria’s Secret screwing with your head?
Models, who are considered the most attractive creatures to walk the face of the Earth, walk the runway in revealing lingerie — what could go wrong?
Um, a lot more than expected. These images of perfect specimen become ingrained in the minds of thin and worrisome body types. Many women and girls are raised to believe these stick-thin models are an example to follow.
The average size for a woman is size 14, yet the majority of plus-size models wear a size 12. Even the curvier models are slimmer than the average woman, demonstrating the fashion industry’s attempts to promote slimmer figures. Although plus-size models, such as Ashley Graham, have promoted the gradual acceptance of curvier body types, there are still very few plus-size models. One study found that just 1.4 percent of the models in a group of 460 Spring 2016 campaigns were plus-size. But that is still greater than the number of plus-size models that have ever walked in a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: zero.
Many brands have embraced the curvy trend, showcasing healthy models, but Victoria’s Secret seems behind on this movement, continuing to display a worrisome image for women and girls to follow. For instance, Victoria’s Secret models are required to have a 24-inch waist, 18 percent body fat and be at least 5 feet 9 inches tall. Victoria’s Secret, in other words, is encouraging women and girls to adopt an alarming lifestyle that fits the strict standards of a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
The reason behind these supposedly perfect and beautiful bodies is extreme dieting and exercise. For instance, Adriana Lima, a Victoria’s Secret Angel, does not even consume solid foods and went on a strict liquid diet, forgoing water a few days before the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to shed extra weight. (Lima was under the supervision of a nutritionist.) In addition to this extreme diet, Lima would exercise for four to six hours a day, ensuring that the scant food she did consume would not be found anywhere on her body.
Other Victoria’s Secret models have faced similar experiences as they’ve struggled with pressure from the company to consume inadequate amounts of food and train. Some models, such as Erin Heatherton and Bridget Malcolm, have openly stated that the image Victoria’s Secret forced them to maintain through a dangerous lifestyle was unsustainable. Both models have expressed concern over the portrayal of beauty that Victoria’s Secret — with their stick-thin models — forced upon the public.
I have experienced, firsthand, how much the Victoria’s Secret models can influence perceptions of beauty. I started watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows out of curiosity. I don’t remember what I expected from the models the first time I watched one, but I at least assumed that some of them would look like me. Yet, each of the models was significantly thinner and taller than me.
I was at a healthy weight at the time and generally had a healthy relationship with food. But seeing Victoria’s Secret models, who, allegedly, represent the epitome of beauty, made me feel completely inadequate. I simply did not fit the image that Victoria’s Secret projected, so I chose to be a stubborn little s–t, and I adopted an eating disorder to further my weight loss attempts.
When I finally looked as skinny as a Victoria’s Secret model, my health was dismal, and I never felt content with my appearance, constantly wishing to lose more weight. I had always been taught by brands like Victoria’s Secret to believe skinnier is more beautiful. I later learned that true beauty is not gained by punishing oneself with an extreme and unhealthy lifestyle, but rather through loving oneself and treating one’s body with respect.
Although Victoria’s Secret encourages a thin and supposedly beautiful body image that may be tempting to follow, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Hopefully, with times changing and the growing acceptance of all body types, we can soon expect more diverse models walking the runway. For now, stay healthy and embrace your natural beauty — curves, flaws and all!