Victoria’s Secret is a lingerie brand belonging to the big fashion/beauty conglomerate, The Limited. This is the same company that owns Bath and Body Works, Limited Too, The Limited, and many others. Even if you do not shop in the store, there is a high chance you have walked past one of their shops in your local mall. There is an even higher chance that you have seen an advert for their biggest event of the year: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Deemed “Television’s Sexiest Night”, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has evolved in the twenty-one years since its inception. What began as a small fashion show displaying the brand’s lingerie and sleepwear products, has evolved into one of the biggest events on television. Long limbed, stick-thin models strut their stuff wearing lingerie (though if you ask me, it’s little more than artistically placed bits of cloth) while big names in music perform behind them and big Hollywood stars watch from the front row. It has become THE show for any model who wants commercial success to book. And because it is such a high profile show, competition is fierce to even get a casting session or audition.
Over the years, the show has been fine tuned; designs have changed, performances have been perfected, and the models on the runway have come and gone. Viewership has grown exponentially, with ratings in the top 5 and millions of viewers worldwide, both on television and streaming on the internet. Entertainment news outlets scramble to cover the show – which often films several weeks in advance of airing – and the models walking in it.
In recent years, the company has been under fire for repeatedly telling models (all of which measure in at a dress size 4 or below) to lose weight, and for having extreme diet and exercise requirements for them. Now, in an industry where your job is to look good, it’s easy to keep up with those demands, especially when you don’t have to work a standard 8 hour per day desk job and you get paid enough money to pay for a personal trainer who designs a fitness plan for you, or a personal chef who cooks or preps all of your meals for you. Its easy to stay in shape when you don’t have any other responsibilities and someone else takes the guess work out of it for you
However, since most of us normal people need to work full-time and aren’t millionaires with money to burn, achieving bodies that resemble these models’ is virtually impossible. This is where the company has been attacked: they are promoting an unrealistic body image to women and girls.
Why They Suck At Marketing
What many people are not aware of is that Victoria’s Secret was originally founded by a man as a store intended for gentlemen to go and purchase lingerie for the special women in their lives without the fear of embarrassment that came from shopping in department stores. Over the years, it has morphed into a prime store that is almost exclusively shopped at by women. How?
The answer is simple really: over the years the brand has marketed itself well. With carefully placed advertising campaigns starring big name supermodels, Victoria’s Secret has convinced women everywhere to buy into the fantasy it sells. And that’s the thing; they’re selling a fantasy. But the question is, whose fantasy are they catering to exactly?
As a lingerie company, most of the products are bought by women, for women. And the first thing you learn in Marketing 101 is to market toward your target demographic. You also learn that consumers want to see themselves represented in the products being marketed toward them. So, logic would dictate that a company like Victoria’s Secret would want to market toward women using women that resemble the target audience.
When the average American woman is a size 14 and is not a 5-foot-10 Amazonian, one has to wonder why exactly Victoria’s Secret insists on advertising with them? This brings me to my main point: Why are we using MALE standards of female beauty to sell a product only women use?
Lingerie is primarily worn by women (if you are male and wear it, more power to you), so why are we telling women to buy a product only THEY use, by advertising to them with models that they cannot identify with? The models Victoria’s Secret use do not accurately represent the women buying the product(s).
In an industry dominated by men – the top fashion houses in the world have male creative directors – women are allowing men to dictate what is sexy or what makes them look good. Now, I must have missed the part where women only dress to please the opposite (or same) sex. I must have missed the part that states that your sexuality can only be determined by overpriced, poorly designed lingerie made in China by child slaves. I most DEFINITELY missed the part where women allowed men to determine this.
Women control a majority of the spendable money in the economy; they make financial decisions for their households on a daily basis. Women determine where the family goes on vacation, which type of car is purchased and what groceries are bought. They typically do holiday shopping and manage children’s activities as well. So why do women allow themselves to be so poorly represented when being advertised to?