The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: not so angelic

Last year, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was watched by over 9 million people.
Jamie McCarthy

While December marks the beginnings of the Holiday season, it also celebrates the airing of the much-anticipated Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the show racked in over 9.1 million viewers last year. This year’s show will air on Dec. 8 at 10 p.m. and will likely earn an even greater viewership, with “It Girls” Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner taking the stage for the first time. 

For those of you who’ve somehow escaped the hype surrounding the event, it’s a fashion show of exclusively lingerie, featuring designs that are as whimsical as they’re revealing. Being chosen to model in the show is one of the most coveted jobs in the modeling industry.

The desire for girls everywhere to be “like an Angel” is evident with a quick internet search, which immediately retrieves videos such as “How to Get Legs Like a Victoria’s Secret Angel Model” or articles such as “This is what Victoria’s Secret Angels eat for breakfast”. 

Victoria’s Secret knows about this desire to be “like an Angel” and uses it to their advantage. The store offers tank tops and sweatpants with the word “Angel” plastered over them, Angel body lotion and perfume and even an Angel rewards card designed to entice the most loyal customers into spending even more. The company also capitalizes on the hype by promoting workout routines, such as “Train Like an Angel”, which teaches women to have an Angel-like body. 

Many girls and women seek to emulate the lifestyles of these beautiful and slim models in the hopes that they too might become more beautiful and slim, assuming this will make them happy. But at what cost? 

The bodies that we see saunter down the catwalk are the result of rigorous exercise and restrictive meal plans, aided by professional trainers and dieticians. This diligent lifestyle isn’t feasible for the majority of women whose careers don’t revolve around their physical appearance.


5 days until the #vsfashionshow!! time to go into beast mode! #trainlikeanangel @victoriassecretsport

A photo posted by Josephine Skriver (@josephineskriver) on Nov 5, 2015 at 3:33pm PST

Yet when women see these models without fully understanding the level of hard work necessary to maintain such a figure, the effects can be tremendously damaging to their self-worth. These effects are likely worsened when models such as Cara Delevingne brag to news outlets about eating McDonald’s and pizza the night before the fashion show. 

This presents the false idea that little work goes into achieving their figures and that the average woman is perhaps lesser for not being able to binge on fast food and maintain a perfectly flat stomach. 

It feels like it’s become almost cliché to ask for more diverse representations of the female body in the media, but it’s still as necessary as ever, evidenced by uniform body present in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. 

The models appear at times interchangeable, each as leggy and ample chested as the one before her. If a model is even slightly curvier than her fellow Victoria’s Secret models, she stands out and is singled out online. 

During the show, Twitter is flooded with self-deprecating tweets such as, “Working out and crying during the commercials #VSFashionShow” and “You hear that? That’s the sound of a million teenage girls purging #VSFashionShow.” 

It’s this level of self-hate that Victoria’s Secret cashes in on, hoping that these girls will head right for their stores to buy products that will hopefully bring them a little closer to Angel status. 

The danger of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show also lies in its implications concerning the role of women in society. By having an event that encourages spectatorship of these women, it grossly objectifies them by presenting these women as objects for society’s gaze rather than as people. 

In fact, Independent, a UK news source, said they were banned by the Victoria’s Secret PR team from asking questions pertaining to objectification backstage at the show. Instead, they permitted questions regarding their favourite outfit. The show turns these women into hypersexualized fantasies and reinforces the idea that women are commodities for consumption, not individuals. 

Ultimately, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is just another form of mass media that promotes both an impossible beauty standard and the objectification of women. Yet due to its magnitude, not to mention its apparent lack of purpose other than cashing on the insecurities of women, this event seems particularly harmful.

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