Victoria's Secret Laid Bare
On Sunday, ABC broadcasted the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show — an annual lingerie lovefest displaying the brand’s finest on the modeling industry’s thinnest.
According to Vogue, nearly a billion people worldwide watched last year’s show. And as Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek describes it, “the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute.”
But critics say the show is really an hour-long parade of hyper-sexuality, marketing unreasonable body images and a lack of diversity to young girls, women and men.
Is it time for Victoria’s Secret to ditch the show and uproot the status quo?
Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times puts it this way:
It may be doing its best to try to move with the times, adding more sports bras and dropping some of the excruciating cultural stereotypes that got it in trouble in the past, avoiding the pitfalls of Native American headdresses this time in favor of safer moons and stars. Its models have become more diverse in terms of skin tone, if not in gender definition or size. (There were a few curvier women on the catwalk but none that could qualify as plus size by any objective definition.)
But its essential vocabulary — its approach to the world — is still dedicated to an idea of sexy rooted in the pinup era, when women and their bodies were defined by the eye and imagination of a male beholder; when they were at the mercy of the moguls. When their flesh was strapped in and sucked in and their cleavage was pushed up and their bottoms were cantilevered out by the physics of spike heels, and everything was waxed and moisturized to airbrushed extremes, and it was all covered by a scrim of lacy peekaboo. And that era is on its way to extinction.
What does the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show say about modeling, the lingerie industry and what society expects from young women today?
Show produced by Gabrielle Healy. Text by Kathryn Fink.
Cora Harrington, Lingerie critic; founder and editor, thelingerieaddict.com; author, “In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie”; @lingerie_addict
Tyler McCall, Deputy editor, fashionista.com; @eiffeltyler
Hema Parmar, Consumer retail reporter, Bloomberg; @parmarhema
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