Victoria's Secret models aren't Olympians

Victoria's Secret...the economy of sex appeal

Victoria's Secret...the economy of sex appeal

It’s difficult to believe almost a year has passed since we last heard the pitter patter of Louboutins on inch-thick glitter, but it’s almost time for pre-production to begin on this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

That means we get a thrilling insight into the heady, Love Spell-spiked air of the VS team’s preparation. This year us plebs are treated to an exclusive Vogue UK interview with Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, the show’s creative director, in which she sounds off about the casting process for the yearly extravaganza.

What really sticks out is the way Neophitou-Apostolou describes the models’ part in the process: “It's about being show-ready. It's really like being an Olympian - they have to be in peak condition. It's not about being thin or anything like that - it's about being ready to perform and be the best you can be in that moment.”

Reading this twaddle, I thought immediately of the episode of The Goodies where they start an advertising agency committed to brutal honesty (“Champion dog breeder Jock McPhee was paid a lot of money to try the Nosho test on his dog”). Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the organisers of the Victoria’s Secret parade just came out and said what we would surely all love them to say, which is “Yeah we just want to put on a really great tits n’ arse blast with some pop tunes and make a mint selling tawdry bras and synthetic lace g-strings that make you feel like you’re getting a yeast infection”?

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That is, of course, but a beautiful dream; I am also unlikely to own a solid gold toilet or marry Henry Cavill in-game in World Of Warcraft any time soon. Thus, we are left with the profoundly depressing knowledge that honesty doesn’t wash with the multi-billion-dollar objectification industry. This leaves us with two ways to unpack this notion of VS parade as gladiatorial test of strength.

The first, and perhaps most obvious, is to answer Neophitou-Apostolou’s claim that “It’s really like being an Olympian” with a resounding “It IS NOT”. Yes, modelling is tough work (and often scandalously underpaid, despite what Miranda Kerr’s beatific $100-note-eating grin might have you believe), and most models combine their genetic lottery winnings with countless hours in the gym in order to maintain the measurements printed on their agency’s cards. But an hour or so in the gym each day is nothing to compare to the training schedules of an Olympic athlete. This fact seems so obvious that my fingertips hurt to type it.

Rather, I think it’s the second option for unpacking such statements that is the most compelling one. Let’s instead say, okay, it is a bit like training for the Olympics: well, what on earth does that say about the ridiculous standards of beauty we impose on these women?

Victoria’s Secret models are on record as far as letting everybody know exactly what it takes to walk that glittery catwalk; last year Adriana Lima detailed her pre-show “health” routine, which included the truly deadening paragraph: “For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes — ‘no solids’. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and ‘just drink normally’. Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely. ‘No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,’ she says.”

That’s less like an Olympic athlete’s routine and a lot more like those of competitive bodybuilders, who at their most extreme and water-phobic commitment to the sport are not known to be bastions of healthy eating or exercising.

Make no mistake: women may buy and wear Victoria’s Secret lingerie and clothing, but the VS Fashion Show exists primarily to dazzle male viewers. If every year we are to be told - as we were last year, and likely will again in 2014 - what months of torture the models go through in order to parade for a half hour for the delectation of millions of men worldwide, at what point will people stop dismissing concerns about it with a wave of the hand and a hissed “Oh shoosh, it’s just a bit of fun”?

37 comments

  • I abhor Victoria's Secret and everything it stands for - the little-boy bodied, mute, coquettish, vacuous "Angels" and the nasty tacky underwear they peddle. There's nothing wrong with being a woman lauded for sex appeal (you only have to look at Cindy Crawford back in the day to agree) but there's something alien and repugnant about this brand and it's stick insect mascots.

    Commenter
    Over It
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    September 25, 2013, 8:31AM
    • Tyra Banks is the most well-recognised VS model of the last 15 years. Could you seriously call her a stick insect while keeping a straight face?

      Got to love the mentality of somebody who objects to the judgement of any woman whose body does not fit a very limited definition of 'beauty', only to then label an entire group of women as looking like prepubescent boys.

      Commenter
      Markus
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 10:32AM
    • Can we not dismiss other women as 'little-boy bodied' and 'stick insects'? It's one thing to find the frippery of the fashion industry and the shallowness of modelling boring and asinine, it's quite another to demean people for their body shape.

      Commenter
      pb
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 10:44AM
    • @Over It.
      Hey those insects are people too!

      Commenter
      man cuddles
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 2:28PM
    • OK, so if you don't like the stick insect analogie, how about using the wonderful term the Herald's Paul Sheehan uses....a number if years ago he called them giraffes! Love it.

      @Markus, i think Over It was referring to the narrow hips these women have when she used the described them girls as having little-boy bodies. As we all know, these models do not have little boy chests. Lots of silicone implants, highlighter/blusher and strapping tape are used to get that clevage.

      Thanks Clem for the laughs....so true, those chewy nylon undies are a sure -fire way to a yeast infection. Have never worked out why my daughters were hell-bent on buying them when i took them to NYC.

      Commenter
      BlondeGal
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 3:16PM
    • Tyra Banks is an idiot. I watched 10 mins of one of those next top model shows and I couldn't believe how arrogant, aggressive and moronic she is.

      Commenter
      Audra Blue
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 3:34PM
    • BlondeGal - in justifying the derogatory comment relating to 'little-boy bodies', are you suggesting they have cosmetic surgery to result in their narrow hips? If not, then you are supporting the use of such a judgemental term relating to physical traits outside of their control.

      Commenter
      Public Joe
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 3:52PM
    • @Public Joe, yes, indeedthey often do have liposuction to remove the fat from the sides of their hips. I have a degree in himan anatomy, so I know you can not make any bones narrower, it is just the fat deposits that get suctioned out to give them a flatter , narrower look.

      I dont think Over It was saying they have littel boy bodies to be derogatory, she was stating a fact...the modelling industry does not tend to use girls with broad hips...except of course, the very beautiful Australain Robyn Lawley, not liposuction, just beautiful curves and a beautiful face too. She is a considered a plus-size model, yet the truth is, at a size 14 to 16 she represents the majority of Australian women.

      Commenter
      BlondeGal
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 5:48PM
  • I'm not agreeing they are in any way like Olympians, but let's examine what Neophitou-Apostolou ACTUALLY said:
    "...It's not about being thin or anything like that - it's about being ready to perform and be the best you can be in that moment.”

    She made it perfectly clear she wasn't referring to the physical preparation but rather the show(wo)manship involved.

    Commenter
    Courts
    Location
    NSW
    Date and time
    September 25, 2013, 8:56AM
    • She also said that it is not about being thin, and I call BS on that...

      Commenter
      gazz_mac
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 10:46AM

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