Another year, another Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The extravaganza – possibly the world’s most famous standalone fashion event – took place in Paris’ Grand Palais this week.
The performance was a triumph: Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd serenaded the audience aurally, whilst 51 of the world’s most famous supermodels walked the catwalks in spectacular underwear arrangements.
But has nobody noticed the irony in celebrating female liberation by parading a nigh-on impossible body image?
Victoria’s Secret – the world’s most lucrative lingerie brand – has enjoyed hysterical levels of success, largely due to the elevation of its “Angels” – the super-famous women who model their designs.
The models are tall and willowy and graceful and shiny and beautiful and lithe of limb. Their legs go on for days, their faces are framed by glossy, cascading girls. They smile. They shine. They ooze idealised perfection, from their every pore.
Over the years the Victoria’s Secret catwalk has been trodden by household names like Helena Christensen, Gisele Bundchen, Tyra Banks and Claudia Schiffer. These women aren’t supermodels so much as superdupermodels.
And yet, there is something so sardonic about this glittering, louche affair: whilst it undoubtedly celebrates the female form, and symbolises our liberation (quite right too), it also sells the idea that we should strive for the unobtainable.
These women are not your girl next door. They are from a world where calories are counted and physical trainers worshipped. Drinks are green and blended and exercise regimes are sacrosanct. I’m not sure that the underwear could be worn properly without leaving skin blistered and bleeding (I offer the $3million Fantasy Bra, for example, complete with 9,000 gems). Ouch.
— Maria Borges (@IamMariaBorges) November 30, 2016
Sometimes the Angels pretend to be like us. They can juggle work and motherhood.
In 2012, model Adriana Lima returned to the catwalk a mere eight weeks after giving birth. More shockingly, in 2009, Heidi Klum walked the show a terrifying five weeks after having her daughter. It is painful even to think of what these women must have to do to themselves in order to be considered catwalk-ready so soon after such physical demands.
— Victoria's Secret (@VictoriasSecret) November 30, 2016
But the Victoria Secret crowd don’t bat an eyelid at the challenges of balancing motherhood with modelling: “running around after my son is the best workout”, claimed Miranda Kerr.
“We dance around and it’s so much fun and that is like the best. You’re having so much fun, and you’re working out at the same time.” It’s a wonder that all mothers don’t look like Kerr. Except, of course, that it isn’t. Because Kerr is an Angel. And real women are not.
I want to be an Angel and I want to marry one. But they’re not real. And the sacrifices they must go to to maintain Angel standards should not be sought after.
The real thing that makes them so unlike the rest of us, is that they miss the whole point of life: to sit around, eating, drinking, and laughing. Because if they did that, they’d probably have to hang up their wings.