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Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: not everyone deserves a second chance

Akhila Nadimpalli
Illustration by Akhila Nadimpalli

I was only 12-years-old when I sat in front of my family’s TV and watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show for the very first time.

At this time in my life, I was a competitive dancer and loved tumbling with a burning passion. I was always told growing up that I had the most muscular legs anyone had ever seen. I was never insecure about it and found myself quite proud of the fact that I had calves bigger than some men. It made me feel strong. It allowed me to move my body in unique ways that made me feel important.

Important, that is, until I was 12-years-old and sitting in front of a TV watching the most beautiful women I had ever seen in my life, and they all had the exact same body shape. They were all perfect in my eyes. No flaws. They were quite literally plucked from a magazine.

All of a sudden my legs were not strong anymore, they were an issue — an issue that needed to be fixed because I wanted so badly to achieve this “perfect look” that was shoved in our faces by Victoria’s Secret. This show became what people looked forward to every single year because it was like something out of “The Great Gatsby.” It was absolutely glamourous and each year left viewers wanting more, including me.

I continued to watch the fashion show for years. I, too, counted down the days and would buy special snacks with my mom just to watch it. It wasn’t until I grew up and truly began to understand what it means to be a woman that I realized the mindset and the image the company promotes is toxic. Victoria’s Secret has always promoted a one-size-fits-all image, the idea that a woman is only alluring and sexy if she is a size zero and has literally no singular flaw on her body.

Being a woman sometimes feels impossible because of the beauty standards set by the media and companies through advertisements that have tried to “show us” what a beautiful woman is supposed to look like.

Victoria’s Secret has openly been known for bullying their models into losing weight and harmful dieting in the past. Though the company was founded in 1977, size, inclusivity and diversity seemed to have not been a large issue until 2012, years after the company being shamed for putting women into one labeled specific box.

Years of backlash also led to the dismissal of the famous fashion show in 2018. I think too many women were finally fed up with not being able to recognize themselves in this company, with it only being tailored to a small group of women, including me.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, a new revamped version of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will be available to stream on different platforms. The company has said that they are pushing for more inclusive models. Will we see that in the fashion show? Possibly.

I believe in second chances, but it feels as if Victoria’s Secret is having a delayed response to the years of outcry from women about the toxic message the brand was representing. To me, the effort seems superficial and fake now, as if they are just money hungry and know that they need to make this change or they will forever be canceled.

Women deserve to be celebrated and not deemed worthless by the impossible standards that Victoria’s Secret has set for almost fifty years.

I strongly advise to not tune into a runway event that only recently decided to show appreciation and love to all kinds of women. Second chances should not be handed out for repeated toxic behaviors.

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