As a longtime heavyweight of women’s lingerie, Victoria’s Secret is known to pull out all the stops for its annual fashion show. With the combination of a star-studded audience, million-dollar wardrobe pieces, big time performances and half-naked women, it is no surprise that the 2011 show raked in 10.3 million viewers, its biggest audience since 2002. Not to mention, the $12-million production, which turned into $5 billion in the one-hour time slot.
Despite what you may think, this $12-million production is not about fashion. Sure, scantily clad supermodels trot down the runway in the latest Victoria’s Secret creations, but let’s be honest: No one is going to buy that $2.5 million Fantasy Treasure Bra that Miranda Kerr sported this year. It’s more about extending the brand as a lifestyle rather than just displaying pieces sold in the Victoria’s Secret catalog.
President of reality production house JUMA Entertainment, Bob Horowitz claims, “It’s a marketing marvel.”
He’s got that right.
Everything about this show is over the top and targets both gender audiences, ages 18 to 49. It’s a wonderful way to emphasize that men are dreaming about what they will never have while women fantasize about what they will never look like. In other words, the show is a way for all to escape into a fantasy world that stops by just once a year.
But what goes into this fantastically elaborate fashion show? This year, Victoria’s Secret used 19 models, 21 makeup artists, 40 cans of hairspray and, I’m guessing, more than 100 pounds of glitter.
Now, I didn’t write this article just to point out how awesome the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show really is. It’s a great reminder to kick our terrible food habits and start hitting the gym before the new year. But to put it bluntly, I want to know where all the womanly figures are. Sure, every model on that runway is perfectly chiseled and carries less than the normal amount of body fat. And what woman would be insane enough not to want a body like Adriana Lima?
My question is, where are all the bodacious babes? Remember Tyra Banks, Marisa Miller, Karolina Kurkova and Heidi Klum? They were the first angels of Victoria’s Secret to attract the large audience that now huddles around the television each year.
In the past, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show displayed womanly curves with muscular thighs that didn’t look like they could snap like a twig. Today, Victoria’s Secret is using high-fashion editorial models like Karlie Kloss and Lilly Donaldson. Don’t get me wrong, these women have beautiful bodies and they deserve credit for their hard work, but these types of models must maintain a different physique that is required for designer labels like Chanel and Burberry.
Personally, it seems that even a brand once focused on celebrating women with curves and muscle has fallen under the “extreme skinny models” spell. When asked if they thought a few of the models from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show looked too thin, a multitude of women ages 18 to 24 replied with an explicit yes. While some justified the issue with comments such as, “It’s the models’ job to fit the clothing,” others found it difficult to validate.
In April 2011, the once curvaceous Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel underwent speculation that she had been suffering from an eating disorder. Aside from speculation, the 22-year-old model claimed to be “happy and healthy,” but pictures taken last year say otherwise. And let’s not forget the crazy diet plan that Adriana Lima revealed to People Magazine on Nov. 11, 2011.
According to People Magazine, Lima said, “In the run-up to the annual shows, I work out twice a day and drink only protein shakes for nine days,” and by the Daily Telegraph, “She indulges in “no solids” for those days, and then, for 12 hours before the show, “No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that.”
Trust me, I don’t blame Lima for crash dieting before the show. It’s something many women of our generation have been guilty of doing. However, with such a large portion of society as their audience and an everlasting influence on young girls and women, what message is the Victoria’s Secret brand sending to an already weight-conscious population?
Courtney Wylie also writes the Style Advice of the Week column for College Fashionista, an online blog that celebrates the latest style trends seen on college campuses around the world. College Fashionista is for students who are passionate about fashion and acts as a gateway for students to gain valuable insight and tips to incorporate the latest trends into their own wardrobes. For more information, check out collegefashionista.com.