The Victoria’s Secret Angels are undeniably beautiful. Taking the stage during the brand’s annual fashion show held in Shanghai, China, on Monday, the models, wearing ornate outfits and sky-high heels, walked down the runway appearing almost mythical flaunting their lithe bodies.
And their figures are just that — fantastical largely because they’re unattainable by a vast majority of the population. In the United States, the average woman, according to a 2016 study, is a size 16. The average Victoria’s Secret model? She’s at least 5’9” and has a 24 inch waist.
While over the years the company has made efforts to include more ethnicities in the show, body diversity has yet to be addressed. Despite this, the show still has an odd hold on me. I can’t help but want to watch because the ensembles — sexy undergarments, lace one-pieces, and theatrical wings — are exquisite. But when it’s over and I’m living in my plus size body replaying a highlight reel in my head, I frankly feel sad knowing that such a prominent company is promoting an unobtainable ideal.
I want to come away from watching the show feeling sexy and powerful and that definitely doesn’t happen for me. I consider myself a very confident and self-assured person and the parade of some of the most gorgeous women in the world with their flat stomachs, perfect long legs, and cheekbones for days still hits me hard. The most difficult part is confronting the fact that they look nothing like me.
I’m not alone in feeling isolated and dejected. In a recent interview I did with Rebel Wilson about her new plus size clothing line, Rebel Wilson X Angels, we talked candidly about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. “I caught my sister watching one of their runway specials!” the actress tells me. “I’m like, don’t watch that! It’s very unrealistic to think that anyone really looks like that. I know some of those girls who are lovely…they don’t look like that in real life. They honestly don’t!”
Hearing this from someone who I admire and has firsthand experience validated my reaction. “There’s a whole lot of body makeup, hair, and face makeup that goes into that,” Rebel assures.
This makes me question why the show even exists. If these otherworldly, glowing, and remarkably beautiful women make lots of others feel inadequate — me included — it seems almost inhumane to purposefully and loudly exclude almost every other type except for one. And moreover, why do we keep watching when it’s proven that consuming unrealistic bodies in media only makes our insecurities louder?
While of course we can’t police what people want to watch and we certainly can’t stop brands from repeatedly excluding an array of body types, we can start a conversation about it. We can talk to our friends, our daughters, and ourselves about how our bodies are still worthy and good enough, even if we don’t get to see them go down a catwalk or grace a magazine cover. None of this is to say that Victoria’s Secret models shouldn’t be celebrated, but we have to remember to celebrate ourselves, too.
We want to hear from you! From outfits to body inclusivity (or lack thereof), how do you feel about the show? Send us a video submission with your thoughts, tagging @yahoostylebeauty and #VSforall on social media for an opportunity to be featured on our site.
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