The internet has me believing there are three types of people in the world. Those of us that practically worship Victoria’s Secret Angels (myself included), those of us that loathe them (and believe they are the root of all body disorders) and those of us who could care less about a silly group of girls strutting around in their underwear with wings. Arguably, a larger percentage of the population should probably fall into the third group, after all they really are just pretty bedazzled wings and pretty lingerie but I’m just as starry eyed for the Angels as the average 14 year old boy. Needless to say, I can’t really judge.
Each year around this time social media debates start emerging. “VICTORIA’S SECRET ANGELS AREN’T REAL WOMEN BECAUSE REAL WOMEN EAT BIG MACS & HAVE CURVES” screams one headline. “VS ANGELS SAVED MY BABY FROM CANCER” another post reveals. “I REFUSE TO WATCH A VS FASHION SHOW WITHOUT BESTIE DUO TAYLOR & KARLIE” one crazy fan with a Fairy Princess themed blog utters (then most likely gives in and watches anyway). The Victoria’s Secret fashion show is just another fashion show, but stirs up about as much controversy as Starbucks all red holiday cups and Essena O’neill combined.
While I probably won’t ever sit down with a five year old girl and suggest we watch the VS Fashion Show, I don’t believe the bodies of VS Angels are the cause of insecure teenage girls. In fact, I think being an insecure teenage girl is a regular part of being a teenage girl and while I wouldn’t wish said insecurity on anyone I think OTHER TEENAGE GIRLS are more guilty of causing insecurity than the Victoria’s Secret Angels.
That being said I wholeheartedly believe the VS Fashion Show is meant for adults. As adults I believe we have been exposed to enough media to understand that advertisements are not depictions of actuality. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is one gigantic advertisement, and as such portrays a beautiful fantasy image that no one (even GiGi Hadid) expects us to replicate in real life.
Looking at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show through the mature, self-confident eyes of an adult I truly believe the VS Fashion Show can be empowering!
5 Ways the VS Fashion Show is Empowering:
1| It Normalizes Female Sexuality.
One of my favorite parts about the show is that it helps normalize a feeling we all have “I want to be sexy”. Historically women have been repressed sexually. Little girls are taught to repress their sexuality in a way little boys are not. We often teach our daughter about sex education and premarital sex in a different way than we teach our sons. In extreme cases we villainize rape victims blaming the violent and atrocious crimes committed by men on a woman’s body or dress. I feel very strongly about a woman’s right to dress how she wants without being groped or grabbed at or raped. The VS Fashion Show is incredibly popular, it portrays smiling, waving, hand-holding young women flaunting their sexuality in a way that is happy and female friendly (as opposed to pornographic). I love that the VS Fashion Show teaches women of all ages that we can take pride in our bodies and it is okay to want to look sexy whether it is for ourselves, our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our husbands or WHOEVER!
2| It Celebrates Diversity!
Though the infamous fashion show has faced scrutiny in the past for choosing only the Candace Swanepoels and Marissa Millers of the world, the brand has diversified to include models who do not fit the blonde hair, blue eyed archetype. Though I’ve only seen the sneak peek footage via social media, rumor has it the show boasts more diversity than ever before. Let’s not forget diversity comes not just in skin color and body type but in socio economic status, country of origin, etc, etc. All of the models are tall, svelte and toned (which shouldn’t surprise us, they’re supermodels and if we want to challenge that we need to challenge the industry as a whole not just angels), yet the girls come from all over the world! I’m certain the show has room to grow, but let’s celebrate the strides the show has taken to incorporate a broader range of beauties.
3| It Promotes Girl on Girl Support.
One of my favorite things about the VS Fashion Show is the lively and friendly demeanor of the models. From the iconic “Class of ___” backstage photo shoots, to the Angels hugging and holding hands on stage, the message is clear: We aren’t here to battle for who is the prettiest, we’re here to be drop dead gorgeous together. So many women are raised to see each other as competition but fail to realize one girl’s success doesn’t take away from another’s. I imagine in the world of modeling it would be easy to become absorbed by its competitive nature, however, on the day of the show all the girls let go of jealousy and celebrate their hard work. Similarly, just because your bestie is totally gorgeous doesn’t make you any less gorgeous! Let’s embrace each other’s special qualities without diminishing our own.
4| It Proves Angels are People too.
Remember last year when Ariana Grande was practically mauled by VS Angel Elsa Hosk? What about when Karolina Kurkova lost her shoe? Check out Youtube and you’ll find dozens of videos filled with Victoria’s Secret runway show bloopers and mistakes from throughout the years. Interviews highlight that even the supermodels we view as perfect alter their diets and exercise routines for weeks leading up to the show (Adriana Lima’s day of the show Diet vs. Kendall Jenner’s PreShow meal). Behind the scenes interviews and bloopers from the show prove that just because the angels strut fearlessly across the runways in their underwear doesn’t mean they don’t have their own imperfections. The angels worked hard for the day of the show (just like so many of us work hard for our bikini bodies, wedding days, etc, etc). We’re seeing the pretty finished product, not all of the intense workouts, hair extensions and talented makeup artists that contribute to what we see on the runway.
5| It gets our butts to Barre instead of “The Bar”!
I consider myself fairly body confident. I like who I am and I’m proud of my body, that being said we can all use a little extra motivation when it comes to getting to the gym. I know my body will never be that of a VS Angel. Their jobs are to look fabulous and they do an amazing job! My job isn’t to look good underwear meaning I can use a little extra inspiration to get my butt in gear and go for a run or head to pilates even though I won’t be giving up my nightly bowl of ice cream anytime soon. As long as we are looking at the bodies of supermodels as inspirational rather than aspirational I think it’s okay. Everyone’s body is different and it’s important to recognize that the right balance of eating well and exercise results in different body types for different people. If you’re a size 00 you’re a real woman, if you’re a size 16 you’re a real woman too! I think we should all be aspiring to be healthy, because healthy at all sizes is beautiful!
What do you think?
Here’s my advice, if you find yourself feeling down on yourself after watching the VS Fashion Show, simply choose not to tune in. There’s no one mandating you stay up to date on this year’s lingerie trends and there’s no reason to make yourself feel insecure for no reason. On the other hand, if you really want to watch (Countdown to December 8th!) remember all of the reasons the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is empowering! The show is meant to be fun, fashionable and inspirational, it’s not meant to make you wish you were anyone but yourself.
Most importantly, if you do find yourself in the company of a young girl or teenager who feels discouraged by the supermodel body ideal remember to impart your wisdom about reality versus fantasy. The VS Angels are real women, and we don’t need to put them down to make other body types acceptable. In my opinion, the best way to broach the topic is to remind ourselves (and others) that there are a variety of body types that are healthy and sexy. Each woman is different!
How do you feel about the VS Fashion Show? Will you be watching when the show airs on December 8th?