“I Love My Body.”
I saw it on the twelve-foot-tall window poster at a local Victoria’s Secret this summer.
My first thought was, Wow, how refreshing! Victoria’s Secret is finally acknowledging that there are women in existence who are not a size two, or precisely 5’10″, with a 20-inch waist, who wear a 32 C… and these women are gorgeous and desirable, and they want to feel like sex goddesses sometimes, too!
I could not have been more mistaken.
A little annoyed, I took out my phone, snapped a picture, and quipped to theTwitterverse: When Victoria’s Secret starts featuring models with realistic body proportions, I’ll start to consider purchasing their lingerie.
Time passed, and I had all but forgotten about the “I Love My Body” poster until a few days ago when, thanks to Facebook, I realized the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was being aired. I saw multiple female friends of mine posting about their “Pink” parties, celebrating the spectacle.
But there was one status update that stood out; a friend of mine posted a link to aHuffington Post article, which detailed the diet of the Angels in preparation for the Fashion Show. The most striking quote:
She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show she will drink only protein shakes – “no solids”. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show she will abstain from the gallon of water a day, and “just drink normally”. Then, 12 hours before the show she will stop drinking entirely.
I ate more solid food at breakfast today than the Victoria’s Secret Angels have had for the past week and a half.
Reading this article got me a little agitated, to say the least. I had to rant.
My husband asked me if I wanted to skim through the Fashion Show and see what it was all about, since, as he’s well aware, I have made the conscious decision to never, ever watch it before now. I very reluctantly agreed.
I sat on the couch, in my sweats, with a ratty notebook and a pen on my lap, ready to jot down a couple outstanding quotes or something like that. I’m really not sure what I expected, but what I got blew me away.
First of all, every Angel’s body is identical. Their hair styles are exactly the same.
It’s the most bizarre thing – the only way to distinguish between these girls is by skin color.
During the breaks, they played pre-recorded footage of the Angels preparing for the Fashion Show, or talking about each other, or performing various other tasks that made them seem like real people, despite the fact that not a single one of them could have stood, legs parallel, and forced her thighs to touch each other.
At one point, two Angels sorted through old photos of themselves.
The audience got to see close-ups of their awkward middle school haircuts and toothy grins, the Angels joking about the girls they used to be.
Laughing, one of them mocked the fact that she used to want to be a doctor or a professional soccer player. She then made fun of her friend for wanting to be a marine biologist when she was younger.
My jaw dropped in disbelief. This young woman was actually making fun of herself, and her fellow Angel, because they used to have dreams of curing the sick, researching and working with some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet, and becoming role models for aspiring female athletes everywhere.
They gave up those dreams in favor of liquid diets that put them on the brink of starvation, so they could strip down to their underwear and strut down a glittered runway in sky-high heels, very realistically an item for sale, in front of thousands upon thousands of men who lust after them, and thousands upon thousands of women who either idolize or abhor them.
One of the girls then said it. Words that will remain with me forever. The moment that broke my heart and literally brought me to tears.
It’s like a childhood dream, and little girls are gonna be looking at us going, ‘One day I hope I’m an Angel!’ And they will be! Some of them will be! Someone who’s watching this right now will be an Angel.
It was like a slap in the face. Here are two women, who were at one time so bright and ambitious that they wanted to tackle some of the most difficult career paths out there, who now want nothing more than to be revered for being as thin as humanly possible.
I went from simply disliking them for trying to convey to women everywhere that “beauty” means being a size two or smaller, to being absolutely furious at them for aiming that exact message at little girls.
According to an Esquire magazine survey of women (women!), Christina Hendricks was recently dubbed “The sexiest woman alive.”
She won this poll over Adriana Lima, who is a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
Christina Hendricks, according to her size, would never even be considered to walk down the Angels’ runway, and yet, according to the majority of women, she is far more beautiful than one of the women who is.
This is the woman for whom the term “blonde bombshell” was coined:
Based on her thighs alone, Marilyn Monroe would never have been a Victoria’s Secret model.
So how has her beauty withstood the test of time?
Could it be that real women want to emulate and look up to someone with whom they can identify, in size and looks, instead of a gaggle of impossibly thin models, who are nearly indistinguishable from one another?
I don’t have a single positive thing to say about Victoria’s Secret. I thought they might be coming around when I saw that poster this summer, but instead of changing their lineup of models to fit the (seemingly obvious) implications of the slogan, “I Love My Body,” the company swept the entire campaign under the rug and kept the waif brigade.
If you search the phrase on their website, it will yield absolutely no results.
There is nothing realistic or responsible about the way Victoria’s Secret portrays women. It’s appalling to me that an Angel can so wholeheartedly and enthusiastically encourage “little girls” to become the type of woman who perpetuates this unhealthy ideal of what a woman should look like.
I eat food. Real food. Solid food. I don’t count on vitamins and supplements for my energy; I count on burgers, pasta, chocolate, and coffee. I am seven inches too short and several sizes too big in the hips and too small in the breasts to be deemed beautiful enough to walk down a runway in my underwear and a pair of wings. I have stretch marks on my stomach and dimples under my butt and bags under my eyes, but you know what, Victoria’s Secret?
I truly do love my body!
The only thing in this article that I have a real issue with is the notion that the Angels are unhealthy because of their body type/size/etc. I agree that the lifestyles they live for the sole purpose of doing their job — and in particular the norms and ideals that they perpetuate with all they say and do — are unhealthy. But some people really do look the way they do and are completely healthy individuals as such.
It is unfair to imply that there is anything wrong with the way they look (yes, including that their thighs don’t touch), because it simply brings the body criticism and policing back around to women who are naturally thin. Continue to battle fucked body images and gender norms, but please do so with the acknowledgement that all bodies and types can be beautiful and right and good.