With the Victoria Secret Fashion Show right around the corner, the effect that the “angels” of Victoria’s Secret have on viewers’ body image needs to be discussed. Every year, people all over the world watch this fashion show and compare themselves to the almost unattainable goals of the Victoria Secret Fashion Models. Every year, the Victoria Secret Fashion show airs; and every year men drool at the “perfect” models and women become more and more self-conscious of their bodies.
I am guilty of watching the fashion show every year, and I am also guilty of feeling bad about my body once the show has finished. Reading all of the tweets, Facebook posts, and comments on these models has inspired me to finally take a stand against this show. Emily Wilson, a fellow blogger, posted some tweets that she saw on her timeline about the VS Angels. They include:
“Time to starve because VS Fashion Show is the 10th!”
“Nothing can make me feel so inferior as a woman than looking at pictures of VS Angels.”
“Like I don’t even feel upset that I don’t look like a VS Model, I feel suicidal.”
“RIP self esteem.”
These tweets portray the self-esteem issues that individuals have due to the fashion show. As a curvy woman, I am able to back up the feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency after watching this show and looking at the “beautiful” models by society’s standards. They have gorgeous faces, flat stomachs, long limbs, and perfect smiles. In last year’s VS Fashion Show, Angel Adriana Lima stated that her routine before the show consisted of not eating any solid food for 9 days before the show, working out twice a day, and drinking a gallon of water a day. For the majority of the population that have jobs, families, and other responsibilities, this is not a normal lifestyle. However, individuals still feel the need to attain the body that the VS Angels have. This unattainability creates self-criticism and a lowered self-esteem for curvier women, especially.
The media portraying these Angels as perfect, beautiful, and flawless enhances the typical body ideal, which according to Smeesters (2009) is not attainable for nearly 98% of the population (p.932). The media’s pressure for all women to look like this, even when unattainable, is wreaking havoc on female self-esteem and pressuring women to go on dangerous diets to change their body shape. In a study done by Smeester (2009) titled, The Effects of Thin and Heavy Image on Overweight and Underweight Consumers, it was found that the sociocultural norms that we have created as a society on thinness have a significant impact on women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies. These Victoria Secret Angels reinforce this “thinness= beauty” ideal that society has created. This study also came to the conclusion that exposure to images like the Victoria Secret Angels leads women in our society to measure their self-worth by their appearance.
While thinner girls are also impacted heavily by these models, curvier girls have a larger speedbump to overcome in order to obtain higher self-esteem. For some curvy girls, they will never have the flat stomach or perfect curves that these Victoria Secret Angels have, which could lead them to have even lower self-confidence.
Once reading these blog posts and scholarly article, I have realized that I do not need to be striving to be an Angel. Each person is beautiful the exact way that they are, and should not feel bad about themselves based on what our society tells us.
Men and women need to realize that these Victoria Secret Angels are not the norm; nor will they ever be. Yes, the Angels should be idolized for their success, self-confidence, and happiness in their own skin. However, the population needs to start focusing on this aspect of the Angels, rather than the beauty and “skinny” aspect.
Curvy women are beautiful. Skinny women are beautiful. Larger men are beautiful. Muscular men are beautiful. Victoria Secret Angels are beautiful. It should not matter what the size of our clothes are. Beauty needs to start being determined from our character.