Ah, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Home to many iconic supermodels and memorable catwalk moments, the lingerie brand's event has been much anticipated by both huge industry names and fashion fans ever since it began because of its unique take on the runway. Not to mention how it is considered to be a big opportunity-maker for budding models to be included in the show, given that they'll be lined up with names like Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, and Adriana Lima to name a few, who all have held the prestigious title of being a 'Victoria's Secret Angel'.
But even with its outstanding production set that grows bigger every year, its glamorous take on lingerie, and the crowd-pleasing performances of well-known artists gracing its stages, numbers don't lie. For years, the show's TV ratings are consistently and inevitably dropping, making us think that maybe VS is already losing its appeal. It is said that in the U.S., viewership has dropped to 3.3 million people as compared to 5 million of the previous year. That, in comparison to how shows in preceding years have reached to even 10.5 million viewers, showed a significant decline, especially since it was expected that this year's show would perform well at the confirmed appearances of 'VS age demographic' favourites such as Kendall Jenner and the Hadid Sisters.
For years, one major criticism about the show is how it lacked diversity for many of their models fit into the 'white, blonde, slim' stereotype. Since then, the brand has become more open to their selection of runway walkers, opening the floor for more racial diversity. However, considering that competitor brands like Rihanna's Savage X Fenty and Ashley Graham's Addition Elle are now winning the market by catering to a wider range of body shapes, sizes, and even gender, many have come to question how unyielding Victoria's Secret has been and how they have failed yet again to make a statement about inclusivity in their 2018 show.
It also didn't help that the brand's Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek addressed the criticism in a recent interview by saying, "We invented the plus-size model show in what was our sister division, Lane Bryant. Lane Bryant still sells plus-size lingerie, but it sells a specific range, just like every speciality retailer in the world sells a range of clothing. As do we. We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world." This statement caused many people to be taken aback at what seemed like the brand's apathy, even going as far to call a boycott.
However, we took it upon ourselves to read the interview in full and discovered that more was said regarding the matter. In his defence, Razek also mentioned, "...in 1999, 2000, after we’d done the show for a few years, none of the designers who did shows would use any of our girls. "They were too fat" was the prevailing wisdom of fashion at the time. You probably remember that. At the time the conversation was "they’re too big for us [pertaining to the curvier and more bombshell-esque models], we can’t possibly put them in our show." Progress gets made, and part of what’s happened in our show is that the girls have just continued to get more physically fit."
In support of this, the brand's Executive Vice President of Public Relations Monica Mitro also said in the same interview, "We’ve donated more than 1 million hours of associates’ time, hundreds of millions of dollars to women’s causes. And we’ve never said if you buy a bra, we’ll give a dollar to a cause. We’ve never promoted it. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. Nonsense gets written about us; God bless, we understand, we’re a big target, a very big target. We get it, we’re enormously successful and have been for a very long time."
Overall, it is quite interesting to see the two sides of the story. On one end, it is good that people are calling for more inclusivity and body positivity, especially towards a big industry player such as Victoria's Secret. However, it is also worth noting that some critics are also disposing of the fact that they are dismissing the efforts of the girls who also worked hard to get their physiques in the shape for this event. Not to mention how it seems like they're pitting women against women in the form of 'which show is better' rather than appreciating all these celebrations of beauty. Remember, body positivity drives diversity and that should go whether one is slim or curvy as long as health and holistic welfare are involved. We just have to leave it to the bigger corporations to approach it as they see fit and call them out when they go totally out of line, though still with the thought that some situations need a more careful and deeper assessment than others. Because at the end of the day, our money is our own and we can control how our purchasing power ties in with our convictions.
Next, check out how these celebrities clapped back from body shaming.