VS Fashion Show No Mo’

For 24 years, Victoria Secret held an annual fashion show that promoted its lingerie and sleepwear on the nation’s most famous, beautiful, and of course, skinny models. Dubbed “Victoria Secret Angels,” these models wear wings and strut around in front of the elites of the fashion world. Past Angels have included Candice Swanepoel, Tyra Banks, Lily Aldridge, Karlie Kloss… you get the picture.

In November, L Brands, the parent company of Victoria Secret decided to discontinue the infamous Victoria Secret Fashion Show, supposedly due to a decreasing viewership. The cancellation of the 2019 show incited a strong controversy between the strong VS stans and the parties who said good riddance to a “fatphobic” fashion show.

Teenagers ran to Twitter to voice their frustration, claiming that “overly sensitive fat bitches are the reason the VS fashion show got canceled.”

The fact that the people who loved the VS show so much are the same people spouting this hateful language portrays the messages that the show instills, whether intentionally or not.

When I was younger, I watched the VS fashion show religiously. I grew up like a beanstalk: incredibly tall and skinny, and people often commented that I should take up modeling. As an impressionable little girl, I loved that someone could view me in that light. I watched America’s Next Top Model and read fashion magazines, looking to see if I could fit the bill. The result was that I saw women ages older than me who weighed the same as I did, pre-pubescent in middle school. When I did get older and I took up competitive sports, my body changed to a more athletic build. Although it is not something I thought about at the time, I gave up on the VS fashion show and the idea of being a model because I no longer thought it was attainable for me. And that’s not right.

In addition to remarks of discrimination based on size, Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer of L Brands responded to claims of transphobia in November of 2018, saying “to be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it… But it was never about gender.”

Although inclusivity is now becoming a trend, most companies only incorporate physical and gender diversity when they can capitalize upon looking like an accepting brand.

The main issue is that unless the employer explicitly states it, it is difficult to prove that a model did not get a call because they were too “fat” or because they were transgender. In the end, the employer says that the model was just not what they were looking for. Whereas there is more flexibility in certain print modeling or in high fashion shows, a show like Victoria Secret undeniably only brings in models who fit their criteria.

If you asked me to pick the most beautiful woman in the world, I wouldn’t be able to, because there are women with completely different body types and faces and are beautiful. Yet, the people you see in a VS fashion show are one-dimensional. Stick skinny, long legs, not too muscular, straight hair, small nose, full eyelashes. Not only are these reiterations of the European standard of beauty, but it is a limiting and cruel method of teaching little girls who watch the show to not love themselves unless they look an unrealistic way.

So bye-bye to the Victoria Secret Fashion Show! I will miss the angel wings, but I won’t miss the mixed messages they send.