Victoria's Secret Models Shame?
Every woman knows what it feels like to be ugly-shamed by a VS model.
All we have to do is walk by the store. Or look at the catalog. Or worse, get assaulted by their commercials while sitting next to our husbands, children, parents, friends.
And, well, there's no feeling like the VS-shamed feeling.
The imagery is explosive. In-your-face (and psyche).
Because, as it turns out, Victoria doesn't keep much of herself secret. She's pretty explicit, flaunting her body like a trophy of ultimate female triumph + success (interestingly, the name "Victoria means "victory" or "conquer"). She uses the power of her sexual magnetism to draw us in, compel us to praise and worship her as goddess of sex and beauty, female victory, desire, womanly worth.
But this shaming—the shaming is sneaky. Non-verbal. Passive-aggressive.
No woman, sees an exposed VS model and feels like she's been lifted up, supported, respected, or seen as equal. No woman—not the prude, not the liberated, and not even the one with years of "not comparing" therapy feels good or confident in her womanhood.
We feel disgusting. Like we walk into a room, ugly first. Utterly unattractive and undesirable. Not just frumpy, not just ugly—repulsive.
Huge and misshaped, and somehow still insignificant, invisible.
And then we start to believe Victoria's underlying non-verbal lies: that body beauty and sexy are THE defining qualities of womanhood, the baseline of female worth. That we are less worthwhile as women if we don't, can't, will never measure up (errr, down) to the rare form of the VS model with her genetic-lottery-winning breasts, butt, thighs, belly, skin, age, complexion and bone structure. Because we'll never be like that. That worthy.
We start to believe the lie that because we cannot compete with the VS model's physical beauty and sexual magnetism, we are less. Less feminine. Less attractive. Less worthwhile. Less likeable. Less loveable. Less desirable. Or worse—not just less, but un—unworthy, unlikeable, unloveable, undesirable.
But we so desperately want to be like Victoria—sexy, powerful, alluring, worthy of love and desire.
Eek. If it has this kind of effect on adult women—what's it doing to men? Teens? Kids?
.... But wait! This is where the VS products come in! You know... to help. To bring our sexy back. To "accent" and "improve" our best, our only "selling points." Because VS is sexy. And sexy... well, sexy is worth something. Sexy is powerful, desirable, captivating. Sexy is the ultimate female (and male) dream. The precursor to love. Want a shot at all thisss? Victoria seems to hiss. Buy me. Buy my products. She degrades and compels us at the same time.
How does Victoria get away with this?
Oh, wait. You mean...
We actually buy her lies?
We pay Victoria to lie to us?!?
Yep. We pay VS a modest $7.8 billion a year, just in sales.
And what's worse, we with our eyes. With our time. With our mental space. We even pay VS to advertise off our very bodies for free, as we slouch around in our surface-cuddly PINK sweatpants.
When we buy or wear the Victoria's Secret brand, do we send the right message—a message of whole-woman respect? Of admiration for the genius of the feminine intellect and emotional IQ? Of her mind-blowing capacity to grow and nourish a small human with her perfectly designed parts? Of her radiance as a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, grandmother? Of her inherent human dignity and her equal worth among the ranks of women?
We don't stop to think about it, but the VS brand comes with a distinct image—one with vivid imagery and associations. And identity. The VS brand recognition conjures up the message that sells its products, a message of: "I'm a Victoria (wannabe), see me (sexy) like her, think of me (sexy) like her, want me (sexy) like her, treat me (sexy) like her."
Yes, you, me, the mom of that tween girl in PINK, and maybe even grandma pay to wear her identity lies. We don't just get shamed by Victoria, but we actively participate in her attack on other women and ourselves.
But I just can't do it anymore.
I can't let Victoria promote an environment that fosters such a shallow, cruel and disrespectful view of women—while protesting the rising rates of sexual assault, gender inequality, sex trafficking, relationship-destroying pornography (which experts say kids now see around age 8), and other violations of women's dignity.
I can't let Victoria infest and contaminate our culture with the exact lies about women and their worth that create the thought patterns that lead to the very behavior I'm against.
Get lost, Victoria.
You're done here lacy, dental-floss underpants. Go bust yourself, squish-and-plunge push-up. Sayonara, overpriced sweatpants.
It's over, Victoria. I won't be a hanger for your lies, anymore.
Points to Ponder + Discuss:
- When you think of the Victoria's Secret brand, what thoughts, images or messages do you associate with it?
- Does the VS brand invoke particular thoughts or feelings about your self?
- Has the VS brand affected your actions?
- Do you think there's a connection between advertising and a culture of disrespect and abuse of women?
- Ponder/discuss the verse, below: