When I was a teenager there was only one major store in the regular mall to buy bras and lingerie that was “more beautiful” than them, and this one was Victoria’s Secret (VSCO) .
From her pink-striped walls to her generous assortment of super-skinny models designing all kinds of lingerie that barely covers her parts properly, it might have seemed to the casual surfer that Victoria’s Secret sold lingerie.
But what really sold was the imagining that women could buy things there that magically transformed them into a perfect woman’s vision as orchestrated by a man’s look: big hair, big breasts, small waist, legs that easily look twice the length. than any normal woman.
History of Victoria’s Secret
Those familiar with the company’s history know that it has historically been resistant to diversity. The Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which ran from 1995 to 2018 and was watched by millions at its peak, primarily featured women who were tall and slender and were called out repeatedly for conformation, lack of diversity, and cultural appropriation.
In 2021, the New York Times published an investigation titled “Angels in Hell: The Culture of Misogyny within Victoria’s Secret,” which exposed just how bad things are within the company, describing it as “an entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment.”
Leslie Wisner and Ed Razek, the two executives behind the parent company of the Victoria’s Secret brand, have been highlighted for their bad behavior. It was revealed that Wezner was in a relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and that Razek was accused of sexual harassment. Both have since left the company.
Today, Victoria’s Secret is trying to leave those days behind. She’s made great strides to transform her image, from plus-size models to launching VS&CO Essentials, which partners with non-profit organizations like I Support The Girls to provide underwear for women in need.
But I still don’t shop there.
I stopped going to Victoria’s Secret many years ago, long before Razek publicly announced that the brand was only for skinny women. I still find their products beautiful, but often not particularly effective – which is a key indicator of men’s clothing, especially underwear.
The reason I stopped buying from Victoria’s Secret wasn’t about the bad press I got – although I was glad I walked away from shopping there when I saw it – but because I discovered lingerie brands founded by women who offered beautiful and comfortable products, like Harper Wilde and True & Co.
Not only that, but models in all sections of those brands’ websites of all colors and sizes. Some of them had stretch marks, underarm hair, big thighs – they were beautiful, and looked like people, rather than very glamorous women trying to look as sexy as possible.
Even better, the brands celebrated these things with glee, making me feel like maybe it was a good idea to have these features myself, rather than staring at Victoria’s Secret models and feeling way less than a size 14.
While the models representing Victoria’s Secret today are more diverse (especially in their social media presence), the brand still has a lot of work to do. Clicking verticals on Victoria’s Secret today still leads to a slew of models with the vintage Victoria’s Secret look, making the company’s efforts seem like performance embedding to me.
Since the emergence of the body positivity movement over a decade ago, people have been clamoring to see “more people who look like them.” And have an effect when they do. from the target (TGT) Efforts to mix plus-size models with regular ones at Old Navy’s (GPS ) Paying to offer sizes 0-30 in all of its stores (which ran into some snags, but still), today’s consumer wants something very different than they did a decade ago. And for this consumer, Victoria’s Secret is a bit late to adjust to my personal taste.