• Emily

Victoria's Secret: The New 2000s Abercrombie & Fitch of Our Decade

It was a chilly, November night in 2013. A 14 year old girl sat on her bed scrolling through the channels to find the show that her favorite band, Fall Out Boy, was performing on that night. She finally found the channel that read “Victoria’s Secret 2013 Fashion Show” and turned it on. While paying half attention during most of it, it was finally time for Fall Out Boy to come out on stage. She wiggled in excitement, singing along to “The Phoenix” while her idols took the stage. However, her excitement started to drain out as she watched the models walk across the stage. Thoughts started to race to her mind, “Why can’t I look like that? These women are so beautiful. I should look like them. Then I would be considered beautiful, too.”

I turned off the television after their performance. While the picture was off the screen, those thoughts would stay with me as my body began the beautifully tragic process of growing up.

If you haven’t been on Twitter this week, you might’ve not seen the uproar caused by the cancellation of the yearly Victoria’s Secret fashion show. This was actually announced back in May by CEO Wes Lexner. However, it makes sense that the outrage would start now since this is usually the time it is aired.

Twitter opinions were back and forth as to why the show was cancelled. Many turned to the declining views due to lack of inclusivity and representation by the brand. While the lack of views did play a part, their transphobic and fatphobic brand ideals had little to nothing to do with L Brands (Victoria’s Secret’s parent company) decision.

In the day and age of streaming networks, Victoria’s Secret is simply evolving with the times. Their tyrannical reign over women’s bodies is not over yet, although with the rise of Fenty Beauty and Aerie, I am in strong hopes it will end soon. Hopefully, streaming services will listen to the body positivity world to stop shows like this from being aired.

Victoria's Secret Should Take a Lesson from Abercrombie & Fitch:

VS is taking on the same business strategy we’ve seen executed before by former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Michael Jeffries. Jeffries believed that the A&F brand should only be worn by fit, young, “cool kids”. After multiple comments to the media, outrage and boycotts of the brand were to follow. Not only did Jeffries not open his brand to marginalized bodies, he did not open it up to people of different cultural backgrounds. For example, the rejection of a woman working at an A&F store due to her hijab “breaking dress-code guidelines”. This type of business method ultimately led to the firing of Jeffries and entire rebranding of the store because of declining sales. In my opinion, VS is heading down the same route. Which would be an amazing wake-up call for the beauty world.

I don’t want kids to feel the same way I did when watching this show. I don’t want more CEO’s like Lexner and Jeffries to come into power. I want more representation and more body acceptance promotions. I want to see all people being able to identify themselves with the people they see on their screens. This unfortunately cannot begin with just the fashion show. The top-down ethics of this company most certainly needs to be ethically discussed and transformed.

How can you help? Here are some ways:

- Don’t support brands that don’t represent you, your friends, your family, and other marginalized people. Don’t buy their clothing, don’t watch their shows.

- Speak up. If you see a tweet like I saw attacking “insecure women causing the show's cancellation”, respectfully call that person out. Don’t silence yourself, the world needs your voice.

- Promote fashion brands that do represent everyone! I named a few like Aerie and Fenty. There are a lot of independent brands out there too, like ModCloth and Fluide (a makeup brand, but still relevant in representation)

My hope with this blog post is to bring awareness around degrading, big, fashion businesses. While a lot of work is still left to be done, I believe we are headed in a life-changing direction.


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