The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Is My Favourite Event Of The Year And Here's Why…
The Debrief: Feminist? Yes. Victoria's Secret Fashion Show fan? Absofuckinglutely.
The 21st Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show took place in Paris yesterday and I for one was utterly miserable about the whole thing. Not because I don’t like the show, but because I love it so much I wanted to be there, not watching snippets on social media and counting down until it airs in the UK on December 6th.
I’ve been to the show before: in 2014, the Angels flew to London, and I spent two days completely engrossed in all things VS. There were the pre-show interviews at the brand’s Bond Street flagship the day before, the backstage chats on the morning of, pink carpet fun with all the celebrity guests… and then the moment I had been preparing for my entire life. I actually watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show live, in person, and it didn’t disappoint. I was so overwhelmed I may have even shed a tear or six.
But why am I so obsessed with the annual spectacle, you might wonder, especially given its debatable feminist ethics? Well, originally it was the wings that drew me in; I think I was 11 the first time I saw Heidi Klum shake her tail feather on that famous runway. At that age, ethics were out and glitter was very much in, with this army of heavenly models quickly becoming my queens. Especially Adriana Lima, closely followed by Candice Swanepoel when she joined the roster in 2007, with Josephine Skriver my favourite of the newest Angels.
Now, as a grown adult, I can see the arguments people present against the show: it objectifies women, it only shows a certain kind of body, the models can’t possibly be healthy. I get why people might take that stance, I really do, but it’s just not mine.
For me these girls – all intelligent, industry-savvy adults – are not being objectified, because they have all chosen to go through the intense Victoria’s Secret audition process, with most of them admitting that being cast is a dream come true. And why wouldn’t it be? They get to wear amazing costumes on the most famous runway on the planet, which not only seems like insane fun, but also has the power to send their career (and earnings) skyrocketing. Nobody plucked the models from obscurity and pushed them down a runway in their underwear without their will and, if you ask me, it must be pretty damn empowering to know just how many millions of people are watching you do your thing around the world.
As for criticism against the models’ body type, I definitely agree that it would be nice to see some curvier girls on the runway, and to showcase a more diverse range of bodies. The show is increasingly more inclusive to all races and nationalities, so why not body types, too? At present Victoria’s Secret carries fairly limited sizes, particularly in their bras (the largest cup size is a DDD), so perhaps this is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed by the brand before they start considering curve models in their castings. After all, the point of the show is to drive sales, so if a FF-cup girl is unable to buy a FF-cup bra in a Victoria's Secret store after seeing one modelled on the runway it kind of defeats the purpose…
The models who are already walking the runway, on the other hand, may be skinny but they’re also strong. Those workouts Elsa and Josephine do every day in the run-up to the show; do you really think they’d be able squat, lift and punch if they weren’t eating? Joan Smalls’ wings for this year’s show weighed 30lbs – show me a girl who can walk with 30lbs on her back after starving herself for a fortnight and I will raise you one unicorn.
At the end of the day, watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is like watching a fantasy film, albeit one involving less clothing than Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. But if we can all get through two hours of watching a 'wizard' jumping in and out of a suitcase without feeling disillusioned, I'm pretty sure we can enjoy the VSFS for the spectacle that it is. If anyone needs me on December 6th I'll be in my flat watching Adriana and the Angels, most likely wearing my underwear and a pair of fairy wings recycled from Halloween. I'll skip the workouts though, thanks; just send pizza.
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