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Why we Shouldn’t Forgive Victoria’s Secret

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Victoria’s secret’s new ‘inclusive’ rebrand seems to be a long overdue step in the right direction, with actual plus sized models (not just healthy looking bodies classed as plus sized) being used for the first time in the brands history. However, looking at the brand’s long controversial history of fatphobia we have to question whether we should be rewarding this seemingly performative rebrand with our money.

Victoria’s secret built an entire brand and name for themselves based on the idea that to be ‘sexy’ women has to be tall, insanely thin, white and cisgendered, not to mention the fact that the brand, almost solely for women’s underwear, pushed the idea that women had to be seen as sexy and be sexualised to sell products at all. For years they fed us the message of this totally unattainable ‘perfect’ body type and continuously hired the same type of women for all their campaigns and to be their ‘angels’ – profiting from women’s insecurities – which, for a brand aimed at women, is completely abhorrent.

Only now that it is no longer profitable to be so exclusionary, with the major success of actual inclusive brands like Savage Fenty, and a much needed phenomenon across the board of diversity and inclusion as a trending topic, they have finally rebranded. We can now see examples of models such as Paloma Elsesser being used, models who we never would have seen in campaigns a few years ago.

Although it is definitely a step in the right direction, the brand has shown us time and time again who they value in society and who they want to elevate; and as much as we could say people make mistakes and get to change, their branding over the years was very much deliberate. Calls for them to be more inclusive have been going on for years, so why is it only now that body positivity is a trending topic that they have decided to rebrand?

Brands should 100% be spending their money on more positive rebrands but I believe we should not be rewarding problematic brands such as Victoria’s Secret with ours. Not only did the brand not carry large sizes for years, but they built their brand on the idea that to be seen as sexy, women have to be skinny. They fed us content of size 0 women working out, promoting ideas that you can never be too thin or too fit, slogans like ‘strong is the new sexy’ proving that their deep rooted fatphobia and harmful promotion of diet culture is inexcusable.

Even now in their seemingly progressive campaigns, we can see the idea of only one acceptable ‘perfect’ body type, with all of the plus sized models still having an hourglass shape and flatter stomachs. Even with their new image they are still pushing for the most ‘desirable’ plus sized body once again proving that their rebrand is purely for their image and most definitely performative.

Maya Zarri

Nottingham '23

Second year English student at the University of Nottingham
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