Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show enforces unrealistic standards for women

Monday’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show perpetuates impractical body image


Photo by Submitted

Victoria’s Secret Angels have strict diets and workout routines in order to maintain their figures and walk every year. Dimitirios Kambouris, who took this photo, has been photographing the show since 2002.

Each year as December rolls around, women are expected to keep up with holiday shopping, parties and, of course, the unrealistic beauty standards sprung upon us by the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Victoria’s Secret models — sometimes referred to as “Angels” — are beautiful, but their extension-clad hair, fake tans and extensive workout routines reinforce expectations of beauty that are impractical for an average woman.

The 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was filmed last Wednesday in Paris and aired Monday night. Along with the 54 models walking the runway, Lady Gaga, The Weeknd and Bruno Mars each took turns performing songs throughout the show.

Last year, over six million people watched the event, according to The Wrap.

This means six million individuals were influenced by the seemingly-perfect models gracing the stage. This number is still nearly three million people less than the amount who watched the year prior.

I don’t have a problem with people especially those under a constant public eye using techniques to appear more beautiful. I would be a hypocrite to have a problem with it; I dye my hair and spend (probably too much) time on my makeup.

However, when these models undergo many enhancements to achieve the naturally flawless, “girl next door” look, they’re setting an unreachable standard for an actual girl next door.

Aside from any pre-show rituals that take place, the models need to have some physical prerequisites in order to walk in the show.

While Victoria’s Secret hasn’t come out with an official list of what they look for in models, fashion photographer Robert Voltaire released 10 tips on his blog on becoming a Victoria’s Secret model. The list mentioned having 34”-24”-34” body measurements and ideally being 5’9” without heels.

These harsh requirements aren’t uncommon in the fashion industry. What is uncommon about Victoria’s Secret models is their personalities that are evident while walking the runway.

In an interview with Forbes, Victoria’s Secret Chief Marketing Officer Edward Razek said the brand looks for models who will get a positive response from women watching. They look for models with personalities and not necessarily those who have worked in serious fashion.  

To debunk rumors of Cara Delevingne being rejected from the 2014 fashion show for being “too bloated,” Razek wrote Delevingne a letter which said the model-turned-actress’ absence was due to scheduling conflicts.

“We (Victoria’s Secret) tried hard to have you there,” Razek wrote. “You would have made the show better, as you do anything and everything you’re involved in.”

Razek even extended her an offer to be in the show this year, although Delevigne didn’t end up walking.

Models are doing their jobs when they look or dress a certain way. The brands and industry are the ones forcing unrealistic standards on women (and men).

However, many brands are beginning to feature average-size models. Recently, Aerie created their #AerieReal campaign where they don’t retouch their models. After doing this, parent company American Eagle’s sales increased by 4 percent, according to Adweek.

This means people are responding positively to seeing less-than-flawless models wearing clothes they want to buy. If people want to see “real” models, then why wouldn’t brands, like Victoria’s Secret, feature them?

Women should be able to view fashion shows without feeling pressured to look a certain way while wearing the clothes featured in them. In the future, I hope more brands begin to hire models with average body proportions to make women feel better about themselves.