At this point, you've read dozens of think pieces on Victoria's Secret and its wrought beauty standards. They all say, more or less, the same thing: its CEO stepped down, sales are waining, and L Brands' chief marketing officer Ed Razek's comments to Vogue on transgender and plus-size models are indefensible. But one word stood out in Time's recent Victoria's Secret report that includes statements from former employee's and retail experts: "thoroughbreds."
It means, of course, to be of pure breed. Like a racehorse. It's what a former Victoria's Secret art department employee told writer Amy Odell when speaking on Razek's views on the company's coveted faces, the Angels: "Razek compared the models to 'thoroughbreds' and said he follows them closely on Instagram to make sure that they're not being pushed too far by their agents because, like racehorses, you can't overwork them or they would get exhausted and not perform at their best." The word sits uneasily with anyone who doesn't consider themselves a match to the company's unrealistic beauty standards — and it does nothing to redeem the brand's reputation.
"I remember [Razek] saying something like, 'No one cares about their voice, no one cares about the story, just keep it simple and sexy,'" one employee told the magazine. In fact, former employees revealed that the pressure to conform to Victoria's Secret's longstanding image of sexiness — tall, thin, and white, with long, wavy locks — was so intense that Karlie Kloss cutting her hair before its 2012 broadcast was "a big [moment]. Like, Oh my God." Additionally, former employees revealed that there are people inside the company that want, and have long wanted, to change Victoria's Secret and its outdated standards of beauty. But the company apparently won't budge. "If you had a modern idea, you'd PowerPoint it, pitch it for a month. Then they'd say, 'We love this but we're going to do what we did last year,'" a former copywriting employee revealed.
After cutting their iconic catalogue, laying off 200 staff members, discontinuing its swimwear line, the company's stocks, which once surpassed over £75 a share, have slumped to less than half of that. And despite CEO Jan Singer recently stepping down after two years on the job, its upper management reflects several female executives in leadership positions and former employees cite high salaries. It moves forward, however, with yet another male executive at its helm: former Tory Burch president John Mehas will lead Victoria's Secret into the future. Let's just hope he can get it right.