On the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Coming to a Close

In a break between my classes on Thursday afternoon, I got on Twitter to see the news that the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show had been canceled. The only feeling that can describe what I felt is pure joy. I remember being in middle school, looking phrases up on Google like “Victoria's Secret model diet” after seeing advertisements for the show. I also remember, like so many young girls, desperately wanting to look like the women that I saw on television, so much so that it created unhealthy eating patterns in my own life. I could never quite shake how it all looked so glamorous and, even more dangerous, it looked incredibly easy – as if all of the women in the fashion show naturally looked like that.

As I grew older and formed my own ideas of what it meant to be beautiful (which do not correlate to how much I weigh on a scale), I struggled with my feelings toward Victoria's Secret, as well as their yearly fashion show. On one hand, I believe that women should feel completely confident and comfortable in their bodies, and in a way, their fashion show certainly celebrates that. However, when I think a bit deeper about the implications and effects of the show, I find myself believing that it is catered to the male gaze rather than with the pure intention of promoting body positivity. If the goal of the show was to promote body positivity, then the directors of the show would choose women of all different sizes to wear their items, which only makes sense, because women of all sizes need bras and underwear. Therefore, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to see the VS Fashion Show as a display of “girl power,” and instead I see it as palatable misogyny marketed as female empowerment.

And I think this is what, as I’ve grown older, has bothered me the most about the show. Artists like Taylor Swift (and I say this as a Swiftie) and Halsey, who are outspoken feminists, have performed at the show, and just this February, PINK, the branch of Victoria's Secret that is marketed to younger girls, just launched their “PINK GIRL POWER PROJECT.” This bothers me to no end, as just last year VS’s former chief marketing officer said that there was “no room” for plus-size models or transgender models on the runway. This is not girl power or feminism, but rather it is men using feminism to their own gain, both for profit and as a tool to reinforce traditional beauty standards in a group of women whose literal job is to exercise and (not) eat for this once-a-year fashion show. Now, I no longer feel bad or like I am working against body positivity, but rather I see the show for what it is. As something that caused me and millions of other girls personal harm, I feel so personally vindicated that the show is finally canceled; and that this year, I won’t open social media to be reminded of past times of dieting and unhealthy eating habits to conform to a standard that does not exist, because there quite literally is no standard.