Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show does ‘harm’


by Tara Maurer

I hadn’t planned on watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

However, after seeing a tweet from a former classmate saying, “CBS is really taking away from some of the fun by blurring these girls’ asses,” my decision changed.

While initially I feared the show’s sexual objectification of women, my thoughts turned to how the show portrays women’s role in society overall.

This fashion show lowers women’s self-worth by setting a universal standard of beauty. Furthermore, it seems to emphasize that women are only valued for their beauty.

The advertisements for the show proclaim it to be “The Sexiest Night on Television.” What does this tell women? The way to be truly sexy is to be half-naked?

Women can be sexy in clothing that consists of more than a bra, panties and a few jewels. Sexiness can come from within. It can be expressed through body language.

Along with this, the show sets beauty standards few women can actually reach. It emphasizes the angels as the epitome of perfection.

So what if you don’t fit the mold; a small percentage of women actually do.

The angels themselves may not make the cut. Model Adriana Lima admitted that she works out twice a day and goes on a nine-day protein shake diet before the show.

Twelve hours before the show, she refrains from food or water completely, saying, “No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that.”

If the actual models don’t fit the beauty standard, how can other women? Yet, the show portrays these women as what’s “beautiful,” and because they are virtually all the same size, a universal standard emerges.

And, it’s not just Lima. In the opening scene of the show, another model tells others – and herself – to “suck it in.”

Suck what in? You are tiny. If a six-foot, 115-pound model is saying she needs to suck in her stomach, what does that tell other women and especially, young girls?

It’s no surprise that eating disorders have been on the rise when our pop culture is telling women they need to be thinner and “suck it in,” many to the extent that they want their “ugly” bodies to disappear.

The bottom line is this show represents the idea that the female body is something that needs to be controlled. Women need to discipline themselves and their bodies through strict diets and workout plans.

The natural body isn’t beautiful. Because the standard of beauty set forth by these models is so narrow, many women fail to reach the requirements and are left with a lower self-worth.

Social media reveals how the show affected women:

“Too bad watching that makes me half way depressed because I only wish my body looked like that.”

“brb going to purge.”

“I wonder what the suicide rate is after the Victoria Secret Fashion Show?”

“Today is the day I starve myself until after New Years.” This quote was retweeted more than 100 times.

From social media you can see that a significant portion of women feel like they don’t make the cut. Yet, a model in the show says, “The minute I stood on the runway, I felt like I became a woman.”

So what does that make the rest of us?

The show makes itself out to be such a huge inspiration. Quotes from the models include:

It’s every girl’s dream to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.”

“Everyone knows what a big deal it is.”

“I really feel like I’m living the American dream.”

I found it interesting how during one portion of the show, the models were naming careers they wanted to have as children. Included in the list were doctor, marine biologist, astronaut and soccer player.

Yet, later a model says, “It’s like a childhood dream, and little girls are going to be looking at us going ‘One day I hope I’m an angel.’ And they will be. Someone will be.”

When did we take a step back, encouraging little girls to be underwear models?

I think it’s ridiculous to view being an underwear model as a career young girls should strive to obtain. Why isn’t the mind being valued?

These women are being praised for merely being beautiful, and while the show attempts to show “there’s a lot more than what meets the eye,” I think it does more harm than anything else.

Tara is a junior multimedia journalism major and the photo/video editor for the Simpsonian. She currently interns at Meredith and with the school’s Athletic Communication’s department. She is an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.