So this will be a brief little diatribe/rant that has to do with one of the most watched events that’s on tv. No, it’s not the superbowl (that’s the most watched event)…it was the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
A super short disclaimer – I’m not super into the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and this is actually the first time that I’ve watched it in its entirety. I also probably wouldn’t have watched even this time except for the music line-up and the fact that my ladyfriend wanted to watch. That being said, I have read a decent amount of research on body image, and have also watched and read a few things on how many of the models prepare for the big event.
So here goes…
Immediately after the show, I happened to check out facebook and twitter, and I happened to notice that a lot of comments, statuses, and tweets were focused on the VSFS.
The problem with many of these comments is that many of them happened to go along the lines of “I’m always so inspired to work out after watching the VSFS” “Why can’t all girls look like that” “Man, those girls are gorgeous” etc.
These kinds of comments reinforce and create a lot of the problems that I believe (and many others have pointed to as well) aid in creating cultural ideals about body image that are unrealistic and unattainable. These are women who are much taller than the average woman, much thinner, and much bustier. They are the miniscule percentage of women who look like that. (These are the 1%ers all you occupy people!)
The problem is not that these women are considered beautiful or gorgeous. The problem is when this becomes the standard for beauty or attractiveness. The implicit message becomes – “If you are not a Victoria’s Secret model, then you’re not attractive” or “Victoria’s Secret models are the most desirable/attractive women.”
In order to attain this kind of look, it would require a rather unhealthy lifestyle, ironically enough. Most individuals, and many of these models, do not achieve this look through a “healthy diet with regular exercise.” It requires a diet that is probably not adequate or recommended for most, and an intense workout regimen that goes above and beyond what many consider healthy, and for many, some kind of cosmetic work/surgery.
However, it’s not just that these models are themselves creating this image to somehow sabotage everyone else while only they are considered beautiful. Many of these models are critiqued and picked apart. They have all kinds of people (fitness trainers, photographers, other models, designers, the public, etc.) critiquing them and picking apart the most miniscule and unnoticeable flaws. Their butt needs a bit of a lift, they could lose a touch from the thigh, their love handles are visible, etc. These are some of the tallest, thinnest, boniest, yet bustiest women in the world.
But people want more.
This kind of criticism is ridiculous and only exacerbates the problem as it pressures the models strive to be even thinner and more “perfect” which in turn amps up these cultural standards and expectations of “beautiful” or “sexy” for themselves and for others.
This is a vicious cycle in which models get progressively taller, thinner, bonier, and bustier; yet are still critiqued and picked apart and so continue to strive to be even thinner, bonier, etc.
I do want to be clear that I’m not against people wanting to be healthy and attractive and feel good about themselves – I’m all for this. If you love to eat healthy and work out and get great results from it, then I’m more than happy for you. I would say that I probably fall into that category. The problem arises when this leads to an extreme amount of pressure for people to meet these unrealistic expectations and they become willing to go to unhealthy lengths to try and achieve them.
This should not be the standard or ideal for what is beautiful or sexy.
I could go on and on about this, as it is something that I think is super important (and not just an issue for girls/women – though it may be more prevalent for them) and have had at length discussions about.
But for now, I’ll leave you with just what I’ve said here. And send out a little reminder to really consider exactly what it is you’re endorsing when watching the VSFS (and similar shows). Consider the comments that you make and what those comments may be saying to others. And remember some of the consequences of considering this to be the ideal standard for what is sexy or beautiful.