Hello Victoria’s Secret, you mid-range American underwear chain. Hello. Earlier this week they held their annual fashion show in London. Considering how much the run up to the show has been shoved down my face I missed the whole event. Such a shame, that. Truly.
Every single magazine I follow on my twitter feed urged me to click here so that I too can have a body like an ‘angel’. There was article after article about their ridiculous diets (air for two? Coming right up) and their exercise routines. As someone who likes to exercise I didn’t think I would find this annoying. But I did. Ironically though, these publications would never, ever go into as much detail or depth with the Miss World contestants. Because that’s degrading.
Victoria’s Secret on the other hand has managed to convince everyone that it’s OK to feature endless photos from the event – in most cases the swimsuits Miss World contestants wear actually cover more than the underwear the ‘angels’ wear does. Seriously, with the prevalence of mesh there are genitals flying about all over the place. Does Victoria’s Secret actually think that dressing the ‘angels’ up in tacky costumes detracts from the blatant sexualisation, the obvious reduction of women as people to women as nothing more than bodies? Of course when the costumes are not only tacky but also racially insensitive you wonder how Victoria’s Secret managed to make their fashion show so acceptable to the masses. I assume the almost completely naked women help.
I love my fashion yet the criticisms levelled at fashion shows, by the media are all there in the Victoria’s Secret Show. You have women with too many bones jutting out all over the place, the racism, the reduction of women to nothing more than their bodies, the racism, the ridiculous amount of money thrown at the show, the racism, and a showcase of the huge power massive corporations have. But you search around the internet and you don’t hear much of this.
And do you know why this is? Like stripping and waxing all body hair, Victoria’s Secret is trying very hard to convince the world, and especially younger people, that their shows are about female empowerment. They aren’t. I consider myself a female and I am not empowered. These women are nothing more than their bodies. What empowers me is my brain. And in this respect isn’t the Miss World contest more empowering? Those women actually talk. With clothes on. As an advertising juggernaut Victoria’s Secret has managed to convince so many people and publications that this show needs weeks of coverage. And of course the media isn’t going to say no – why would it? Freakishly thin, half-naked women, dressed in racially insensitive costumes? Yes please, they say as a collective.
I know Victoria’s Secret wants us all to think that their version of fashion is far more accessible than other designers – their underwear is cheaper. Not that diamond encrusted thong, that’s for sure. And I bet it hurts. Victoria’s Secret use the same models and the criticism they faced with their recent campaign (according to them the perfect body looks a lot like it belongs to one of these ‘angels’. Shocking isn’t it?) makes it patently obvious that they aren’t actually more accessible.
I don’t like Victoria’s Secret, I don’t like their portrayal of women and I don’t like the feeding frenzy the media get into. Especially certain publications which the very month before dedicated a whole issue to feminism (I’m looking at you Elle). One day the advertising will fail and this annual show will go the same way as the Miss World contest.
Until then I leave you with two additional thoughts. Number one, I really hope Taylor Swift was paid a lot of money to sing in that tacky negligee and gown, and Number two, Victoria’s Secret calls knickers ‘panties’. Anything that does that should be shunned.