Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2016: Feeling insecure yet?

 

Despite having record low ratings in 2015, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is back. This year, Victoria’s Secret traveled to Paris for it’s annual televised fashion show airing December 5th.  Like a car accident or fitspo on Instagram, I can’t look away.

Victoria’s Secret is not high fashion, but it does boast the biggest names in the modelling world wearing next to nothing , blowing kisses with barrel curls to an audience of oglers filling up their brains with a year’s worth of spank bank material.

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Bella Hadid walks the 2016 VS Fashion Show 

The only thing that intrigues me about this year’s fashion show is that Lady Gaga will be performing. Intrigues/disappoints me, but nonetheless all Gaga is good Gaga. Other than the appearance of Mother Monster, I am one hundo percent against this annual televised event.

It’s awkward to watch. Really, really, awkward and can be damaging to it’s viewers.

I don’t believe it’s empowering for women to wear thongs barely covering their biscuits wearing angel wings strut down an incredibly long runway. I believe, wholeheartedly, that Victoria’s Secret WANTS us to believe their show is about women feeling confident with their bodies, with each other, giving bedroom eyes in the name of selling under garments.

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Backstage VS Fashion Show 

However, what little clothing the women wear on the runway isn’t for sale. Maybe a hoodie here, a g-string there, but the overall aesthetic isn’t practical for the real world, or the boudoir. I’m sorry, but VS is expensive enough that if my boyfriend even TRIED pawing at my bra or gitch I would be slapping him and asking for reimbursement.

Since maybe 10% of what’s being worn is actually for sale, the other 90% is selling an idea and image of women. I believe a majority of women watch the broadcast with sheer curiosity to these perfect bodies paying attention to the models, their beauty, and then digesting what they’ve seen in an attempt to understand their own place in this spectrum of desirability.

VS Angels are not for women, but men. They capture the attention of men to perhaps inspire sales of their merchandise, but in my opinion, they exist to promote an unrealistic, unattainable, and unhealthy image of women to the masses. This public, televised display of the female body, maintains a power dynamic that favors men.

“To live in a culture in which women are routinely naked where men aren’t is to learn inequality in little ways all day long. So even if we agree that sexual imagery is in fact a language, it is clearly one that is already heavily edited to protect men’s sexual–and hence social–confidence while undermining that of women.”
Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

I know there will be people who can take the VS Fashion Show at face value, turn off the TV and continue with their lives, but I don’t think we should discount the large percentage of viewers, most likely under the age of 18, who are not able to separate themselves from what is being shown.

Young women in particular, compare themselves and their bodies with what is shown as the celebrated and coveted idea. This can be incredibly damaging to their psyche, their health, and give birth to or enhance negative and complicated feelings she may already possess.

I feel it can be equally damaging to dismiss the Victoria’s Secret image as unrealistic (which it is for many of us) because it further creates a separation between what is “real” and what is “desired.” Making the VS Angel the “other”, and keeping the broadcast on air, further promotes the struggle for women to live up to that ideal, to exist outside of their peers. Again, not all women or young women will follow this thinking, but a significant amount of viewers and consumers of this image will hold on to it’s implied message as they struggle with their own body image.

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Just here for Gaga 

Now for the men.

Yes, VS Fashion show is equally damaging to men. I think it further celebrates the female body as a form of entertainment for men and hinders the ability for men to celebrate and accept women as their equals. I think a lot of feminist literature considers the ways in which men’s relationships to women are being negatively impacted due to the promoted sexualized, beauty focused image that is disseminated by media.

“Is the beauty myth good to men? It hurts them by teaching them how to avoid loving women. It prevents men from actually seeing women. It does not, contrary to its own professed ideology, stimulate and gratify sexual longing. In suggesting a vision in place of a woman, it has a numbing effect, reducing all senses but the visual, and impairing even that.”
Naomi Wolf

Should the answer to this power imbalance be to have an all male VS Fashion show? Should Jockey or Joe Boxer get in on the ground floor of this idea?

All this would do, would further promote physical appearance of both sexes as a means of selling a product. Would it work? Maybe for some, but the negative toll it would be sure to take on men and women alike would cause a new set of problems for the dynamics between genders.

I can only hope that more people continue to educate themselves, dissect what is being sold to them, and turn off their televisions to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Maybe, if ratings continue to dip, the broadcast will be cancelled and VS can go back to selling underwear, and only underwear.

 

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