Is anyone else feeling empowered after last night’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show? Me neither.
With a primetime runway seen by 6.5 million viewers last year, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is a perfect opportunity to make a statement about the inherent beauty in women of all sizes. A plus-size model wearing the famed Angel wings would be the biggest deal in pop culture since Ashley Graham landed the cover of Sports Illustrated last year.
Instead, last night’s show was distinctly lacking in size diversity. Its clothes go up to a size 40DDD and XL, so clearly it's already serving the market; why not fully embrace and celebrate this? Plus, at this point, there are so many beautiful models to choose from, surely it wouldn't be a casting issue. Watching Precious Lee, Ashley Graham, Christina Andrew, Marquita Pring, Hunter McGrady, and Candice Huffine walk this past New York Fashion Week in a variety of shows made me seriously consider dumping my boyfriend to start dating women. These women are simply beautiful.
In the '90s, Victoria’s Secret was a trailblazer in the industry, offering everyday sex appeal to women in shopping malls and suburbs. The pink and white box was a symbol of confidence and bit of a daring attitude. Its primetime runway show was innovative; they brought Angels down to earth. And now two decades later, its runway doesn’t adequately represent the real world. Seeing how much positive press magazines, fashion brands, and cosmetic brands receive anytime they expand their audience beyond the usual sample-sized models, it seems unlikely Victoria's Secret would receive negative backlash if they included a more diverse cast. If anything, it's the opposite.
The fashion industry is slowly making changes towards size inclusivity, but it's only just begun. It would have been a huge moment for Victoria’s Secret to send just one plus-size model — although imagine two or four or a whole army of models who ranged in size — down the runway. It would have told its customers both old and new: We don’t just value your business, we think you’re beautiful, too.
Meanwhile, lingerie brands like Addition Elle, True &Co, Third Love, Fortnight, Cacique, Soma, and Aerie are celebrating women and making women of all sizes feel like they can join party. And that’s great; there’s room for all. The way for an American institution like Victoria’s Secret to stay relevant is to embrace change and start to celebrate women of all sizes. The runway isn’t the only place to do this — it’s a conversation that spreads across the many facets of a company — but it sure seems like the most public way to send a message that women like you and me deserve to be “angels,” too.