It’s 2018. 2018.
Did you hear me? 2018.
Before I start, I want to acknowledge that – yes, this year’s show featured models of varied ethnic backgrounds and the range of skin colours and ethnicities was amazing to see. It is wonderful that you are inclusive to women who are so diverse. Ethnically diverse.
And the models, of course, looked incredible. They work so hard training and they definitely deserve credit for that. They are, undeniably, beautiful.
But. Out of the 49 models who walked the runway in this year’s show, there was not a single one who represented me, or many of the girls I know.
I am 5’2 (and a bit – don’t forget that little bit), which alone is enough to know that I will never look like any of those models. Not to mention the pretty freaking huge scar across my stomach from the multiple life saving surgeries.
The ladies in my life are all different, all beautiful shapes and sizes. They are strong, smart and are made up of so much more than just their appearance. Their looks are not what make them who they are, so then why – you may ask – is it such a big deal if no one on that runway looked like them?
Victoria Secret. You are a global, incredibly established and recognised brand. The leading lingerie brand. Young girls all over the world instantly recognise the name, go into your stores, and probably many of them own products of yours and look up to the models in your adverts. They are not just models…they are role models.
In some of the most formative years of a girl’s life, they are seeing your adverts and pictures all over Instagram, T.V and billboards. Which would be fine. But not every (actually not very many) teenage girl is long limbed, lean, slim, has washboard abs, clear skin, perky boobs and bum or a freaking thigh gap.
And guess what. That is okay. Because everyone in this world looks different, lives differently, and beautiful is different for everyone.
But yet again, this year, every single model had a very similar body shape.
There are millions of young women who watch the show, see pictures from it and will only see one shape. Even if it isn’t a conscious thought, the message that that one shape is the ‘ideal’ will slowly seep into them.
At a time when, finally, the fashion industry is actually starting to make progress and we are seeing models who are a range of shapes and sizes, why is it that you haven’t included any of them in your show?
The message is subtle, but it’s there. It says this is what is sexy. It says this is what is beautiful. It says this is the aspiration.
As someone with an eating disorder, I won’t say that simply not seeing different body shapes in the media will alone cause this kind of illness, but what I can absolutely confirm is that it makes it a hell of a lot harder to recover from.
Although I admire the fashion, the production and the models, I will not be watching the show when it airs in December. For a brain that still associates being thinner with being better or happier, it’s a huge trigger for me to see so much of the same body shape being celebrated.
To put myself in a position where I’m thinking ‘I don’t look like them, does that mean I’m not pretty or good enough?’ would be too much for my recovery.
I can guarantee that there are a lot of other girls out there who will watch the show and maybe for the first time, think they are not good enough because they don’t see themselves on that runway. Maybe it will be the final trigger for a girl who was considering starting a diet.
So please, Victoria Secret, think of the fifteen-year-old whose body is changing and growing. Who needs nutrients. She has already screenshotted ten different restrictive diet plans. She needs to know her body is beautiful too. She deserves to feel valued and represented and sexy.
She watched your show, she thought ‘if only I looked more like them, I’d be happier, people would think I’m pretty…’. She woke up this morning and went to school without breakfast. She’s exercising until she feels weak. Her periods have stopped because her body is starving. Her sweet sixteenth birthday came and went and she didn’t dare have a slice of cake.
Maybe, just maybe, if she had seen someone who looked a little more like her that night when she watched your show. Someone whose thighs were a little shorter and a little bigger. Someone who didn’t have the perfect nipped in waist. Someone who didn’t have collarbones that were visible.
Then maybe, just maybe, she would have looked at that model and thought ‘I look like her. Maybe I’m not so bad…’ And then maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad.
You didn’t cause it. But you didn’t help. And isn’t that just as bad?