Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show


December 10, 2013 by mattfradd


The following article was written by Emily Wilson who gave me permission to post it here.

“Time to starve because VS Fashion Show is the 10th!”

“Nothing can make me feel so inferior as a woman than looking at pictures of VS Angels.”

“Like I don’t even feel upset that I don’t look like a VS Model, I feel suicidal.”

“RIP self esteem.”

I’ve been thinking about writing a piece about the Victoria’s Secret fashion show for a while now as it will be airing next Tuesday, December 10th. To commence the research for this, I took to Twitter to read what girls say about it. All of the above is what I found as well as lots, lots more.

So where do I begin?

The feelings of insufficiency this show cultivates in young women crushes me deeply every. single. year.

If you are unaware, this show is a major event among girls all over the world. Girls throw parties to watch together and social media blows up over the event. Girls claim it makes them feel “girly” and love to get in the spirit of the show. But this show is not exactly known for the product it is “selling” – it is known for something very different – its effect on the self-esteem of young women everywhere.

As is apparent in the tweets above and the hundreds of others that are posted on the evening of the show, this show has a horrific effect on the self-image of young women. The “angels” in the show are beautiful yet very thin supermodels who, by society’s standards, have achieved perfection of their bodies. They have long limbs, gorgeous faces, and stunning smiles.

These models are said to spend hours working out, intensely watching their diet to prepare for the show. In a UK Telegraph article about Angel Adriana Lima, she states that for nine days before the show, she doesn’t eat any solid food. She works out twice a day and drinks a gallon of water. This is not a normal lifestyle for anyone who holds a normal job, goes to school, has a family, etc. Yet to girls who see these angels, it’s real. It is attainable and they haven’t attained it. This cultivates and magnifies the lie many girls just cannot shake… “I am not enough.”

The perpetuation of this lie that takes place in many girls because of the fashion show is tremendously sad and very unhealthy. The amount of self-criticism that grows from this can be damaging in many different ways.

Crushed and Angry

While I am crushed by the show, I am also always angry about it, too. There is ceaseless talk about women’s empowerment in our culture yet the media continues to glorify the treatment of women as sex objects. This focus has led to so many immense struggles for women – too many to name them all – and it has become so commonplace that we hardly notice it anymore.

There is unrelenting noise about empowerment, but there are so few women leaders standing up for the everyday women and teen girls who are hurting, lost, and affected terribly by the media. We need more powerful women who stand up and talk honestly and openly about what true beauty is and why it is important to focus on it. Jennifer Lawrence has been a great example in the past few years and I am so grateful for that. In a recent article in People magazine, Lawrence talked about how she did not want to lose weight for her role in Hunger Games, saying, ” We have the ability to control this image that young girls are going to be seeing.

Girls see enough of this body that we can’t imitate, that we’ll never be able to obtain, these unrealistic expectations, and this is going to be their hero, and we have control over that.” Thank God for a woman who recognizes the problem, offers a solution, and isn’t afraid to talk about it. We need more women who, in whatever walk of life they live, truly empower women by helping them believe in beauty – the true definition of it.

My Advice?

With all that said, my advice to women everywhere….don’t watch the show. Love yourself enough to know that you are not the sum of what you look like. Spend time focusing on loving you for you, not trying to be another girl. You have a soul, you have dreams, and you have so much to offer the world – I truly don’t believe this show helps any woman remember that or know that more deeply in her spirit.

Even if you consider yourself to be a woman who is unaffected by these images and confident in your looks and body, watching it at all supports the culture of sex and selling women. There is no way around that. We, as women, need to take a stand against it – to let the world know that it is not okay to treat women this way.

Dear Men

I also have a plea for men…please don’t watch the show. It is apparent that you aren’t watching to see the new products, and whether we as humans realize it or not, watching something like that normalizes those images in our head – and most girls don’t look like that. The way this show presents women as sex objects further cultivates that lie in the minds of men – that women can and should be looked at as things, not people. This lie strongly affects the way you see women which has the power to ruin your relationships, influence the way the women around you see themselves, and perpetuates our sad, pathetic pornographic culture that is completely destroying our world.

When I asked my boyfriend his thoughts for men regarding the show, he told me that to men it’s obviously all about the women and not about the “clothing,” making it a lust show rather than a fashion show. I could not agree more. What we truly need is more men in the world who look at women for their true beauty rather than lusting after them. We desperately need men like that.

In my ministry I have talked to enough young men to know that the struggle you face if you are trying to be a man of integrity in this world is often so intense it cannot even be put into words. As a woman, I know I cannot understand that struggle of constant bombardment of pornography and incessant presentation of women as sex objects when trying to stay away from that.

I may not understand but I have met enough good, strong, amazing men to know that it is possible to be a man who honors women in this culture. It is possible and you are accountable for being a man who lives virtue, who seeks to encourage, respect, and uplift women in everything you do.

A Word of Encouragement

In closing, when it comes to self-esteem and body image, I always encourage the young women I meet to live a healthy lifestyle. Balance is important. Balance is wonderful. Be active, go on hikes, find what you love that keeps you healthy and strong. If that’s surfing, great. If that’s boxing, great. But go out to eat your favorite awesome burger and fries every once in a while. Eat some peppermint bark and have fun. Be good to your body and focus on being healthy and strong rather than being perfect.

Most importantly, just shine on. Shine on like the glorious girls you are, perfect the way God made you no matter what you look like. Know that you are joyful and radiant. Believe in yourselves and your power to affect change in this world. As I have told you before –  believe in the grace that you were created for a divine and altogether stunning purpose. Know that you are enough – more than enough – exactly as you are in this moment – living, moving, and breathing in the hands of a good, good God. And never forget to keep your hearts up.

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24 thoughts on “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

  1. […] Concilium and the New Lectionary – Gregory DiPippo Mind, Body, Spirit – Amy M, Catholic Sistas Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show – Matt Fradd Of Teepees and Tabernacles – Fr. Dwight Longenecker, SoMHead First Confession and […]

  2. Rana says:

    More people need to hear this. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  3. I wish that I could share this over and over.
    A few years ago my husband and I sat down and watched the VS Fashion Show and it was the last time. I’d just given birth to our son a few months prior and all during the show I would make comments like, “I want her legs”, “I want her face”, “I want her body”. When my husband became irritated I thought it was maybe because I DIDN’T look like these women but I found out later that it was because he loved the way I looked. He told me that if I wanted to lose weight or tone up fine, but not because of what I saw on TV. That really just… changed my attitude since.

  4. Kennedy says:

    A great post, says he having never seen the programme, but having had to spend many years dealing with male and female students with distorted perceptions of body image. I wish this post could be more widely circulated.

  5. Geri B says:

    These shows really aren’t promoting a product as much as they are promoting a body image. It is sad that young (and foolish older) women believe this is normal.

  6. The Female Truth says:

    Men look at other men who are better looking than them all of the time, and never bitch about it. I don’t really support the Victoria Secret fashion show because I think its one of the most vain things the human race has ever constructed, but all of these stupid posts about how hurtful it is to see someone who is flawless is ridiculous. Yeah their body might rock (like any guy who watches any professional sport will also tell you) but I can assure you that 95% of them would be unbearable to speak with. No two human beings are the same, and everyone deserves to have their talents (natural or otherwise) celebrated. We celebrate the incredible achievements of athletes everywhere, full well knowing they are probably more physically attractive than us, why the hell shouldn’t these girls get their chance?
    If it bothers you so much, don’t watch it. If it breaks your self-esteem, it was already broken. If you think that the men in your life only find those women attractive, you have shitty men in your life.
    This is just another feminist article trying to tell women how to think and live their lives, which is exactly what women set out to get rid of; the only difference is now instead of if being a husband, its foolhardy feminists.

    • Ralphie says:

      finally! thank you!

    • fanny says:

      Yes they bitch about it, but ONLY when women are pointing out that being constantly bombarded with these images of “perfect” women is really, really horrible for their self-esteem. Who are you not to believe in them? You can’t just say “don’t watch it” because these images are EVERYWHERE all the time. Some basic psychology: people start to like what they see everyday. For example, a lot of men worldwide is starting to understand how the porn-industry has ruined their sex-life, because they can’t get any satisfaction from “normal” sex from “normal” women… it just doesn’t turn them on anymore! How is that not a problem? The basic problem is MONEY. Insecure people consume A LOT where happy, self-loving people don’t. The solution is to understand that we are all one and the same, and start taking care of each other. But you being a person assuming that 95% of the VS-models are unbarable to speak with, also comparing athletic achievments to “standing there and be pretty (through starvation)”, I don’t expect you to grasp this.

      I believe you will someday.

    • Sam says:

      I completely agree with this comment. I’m in college and only watch the show if I’m with a group of people who want to watch it that one night of the year. These women DO have perfect physiques, nice smiles, etc. but so what? If a women is so self conscious that she can’t watch a TV show without feeling terrible about herself than her self esteem and self confidence were already in shambles. I never hear about men not watching movies with Brad Pitt in them or skipping the Patriots game every Sunday because Tom Brady makes them feel bad about themselves. I’m sure I’ll get crucified for saying this, but women who actually think less of themselves while watching this show need to get a grip on reality. These are super models. There job is to look like they do. They are above the 99th percentile in their field which is to look “beautiful”. Put it into perspective. There are enough superficial people in this world where the show will never be short of viewers and that’s just a fact. What that means is if your self confidence is made of proverbial tissue paper then you have two options:

      I. Don’t watch the show
      II. Watch the show and realize that these people work hard and won the genetic lottery.

      If anything the show should be a legitimate motivator for people to work out more and lead a healthier lifestyle (which is a good thing). For the record, I think the show is boring. Also, I don’t find 6’3 115 lb women attractive.

  7. Benjamin says:

    Perfectly written. This may seem nitpicky, but I think the message would have been even more effective if the pictures had been left out. Those who are trying to avoid the VS culture either don’t even want a glimpse of it, or they do, but they know they need to get away from it.

  8. Please kindly pray to allow the norm for society to accept beauty in all shapes, forms and sizes! We are all made in God’s Image! Thank you and God bless!

  9. Robert Traps says:

    LOL, very few men are attracted to such stick women. I’m sorry, but thats the truth. They have no upper body strength. Just because a company makes a big production out of a show to sell garments, do not think that the women on the show are ideals of attractiveness. They are not. They are not ugly, but they are extremely unnatural and odd looking to men.

    I can confirm this to be true, as I am a male. Purchase such products if you wish to, but don’t be misled. The fashion industry is run primarily by women and homosexual men. They do not have the same ideas of what an attractive woman is that straight men do, in general. This is plain and clear to see. Its laughable to those who are aware of it.

    • fanny says:

      I know you’re trying to be nice (or you are trolling), but we don’t need you to tell us how you think we should look. First of all: you’re insulting all the women actually LOOKING like “stick women”, wtf? Second: who are you to speak for EVERY man just because your male?

      Stop focusing on our looks and focus on people as individuals instead. The last thing we need is MORE focus on our bodies, because that is what have resulted in these sick norms.

  10. eddie too says:

    this is a terrific column. i wish many of the diocesan newspapers would pick it up and print it.

  11. kathy says:

    you are soooo right these women are beautiful and who would even judge them if they had 10 to 20 pounds on them you wouldnt care!

  12. Very well written and a great post!

  13. Sarah says:

    I totally disagree with this report/article.

  14. nadine says:

    Apparently I’m what the media describe as beautiful, I am 5 foot 8 and a slender size 6 (us 2) But I have more people giving me negative feed back on my appearance than positive. I very seldom where make up and I feel the need to wear very little when I go out due to abuse from other women. I wish I could put some weight and have more of a curvy figure, but due to a stomach condition I find this very difficult. I have participated in amamatur modeling and acting in the past and no a few occasions I have found myself crying. Is it ok to tell a pretty girl she’s ugly because she’s not? These vs girls and women are under more pressure than ‘the average girl’ too look ‘good’ because it’s their job. And speaking of average what is that? Everyone is beautiful in their own way and everyone has something different to offer the world.

    • fanny says:

      Yeah, it’s sick how it doesn’t matter HOW a woman looks these days, she’ll be bashed anyway. We all need to stop focusing on looks and start thinking about the basic problem: we are not equal. The world would be so very different if we were.

  15. fonz says:

    I understand your fustrations, but I must disagree. I propose a question to you. What is the difference between and attractive person and a smart person. Both are genetics, both can be wasted. How can you be upset by an attractive person taking advantage of the genetics they are giving. Can I assume you are upset my young woman whom strive to be doctors or lawyers. These young ladies spend countless hours studying not sleeping, not eating. Most of these models are the victims in a sense. While young ladies try to be them , they are them. Furthermore, if being thin is something to strive for then becoming over weight is something to strive for as well. Both are equally unhealthy. By promoting women to love themselves as they are, you are giving into the do nothing to improve your health attitude. It is easy to eat whatever you want and do nothing. It is easy to become unhealthy. It takes work to become healthy. It take work to get out of bed 20 mins early to do 50 burpees. It takes work to make a healthy meal. I see nothing wrong with trying to improve your health. In the pursite to become a healthy person, one starts to see themselves in a different light, a positive one. A person start to see their hard work paying off. They become their own rolemodel. You sound educated and I am no writer so i ask you to please write something about get out of our comfort zones and promote healthy lifestyle. Please write about challenging yourself physically.

  16. I completely agree and I am not alone in struggles with my image. But we can’t just look at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. In ads all over the world, they are they photo-shopping bodies to be unnaturally thin and lightening skin on gorgeous dark-skinned models. But there is sexism on the male side too. Think of the “perfect” male model… tanned, oiled, abs and arms buff… it is a two-way street and while men don’t act like they aren’t affected by these “perfect” male models, they are. While sexist female ads are much more common, and much more revealing than most male ads, there is another side that many people forget.

  17. Alaric says:

    Just Stop.
    Needless blogging. Go start a Girls on the run group or get your friends to join Big Sisters. This world will always have a large attraction to ‘beauty'(whatever it is at that time) in the eye of the masses- writing the 67th article about models and their jobs is just a diary entry for you to vent. Words versus doing- most will read this and say DUH, but you can go do something in your home and community to make people say OH!
    Go Do. Stop typing.

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