I have a confession: I watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show last night (a bit belatedly). I actually enjoy watching it for its pure cheerfulness and gaudy excess.
And that’s weird for me because I normally really dislike things that portray and glorify only one type of extremely skinny body. In fact, I still hate this about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. I really, really wish that they would choose some curvier women to be their Angels—some with boobs, some with hips, some with both. I just personally would love to see that variety and I think those bodies could set off the lingerie as well or better than the very similar bodies they use currently.
I’m not saying that I dislike skinny women or think they can’t be beautiful. They are often beautiful. Like Behati!
But I think that the kind of blog posts I’ve been seeing a lot lately, saying that it's unfair to hate on or reject skinny bodies in favor of curvy bodies, are often avoiding a point that I think needs to be made. The glorification of skinny, bony, and in some cases, even starved-looking bodies has been a major trend in fashion for many years now, and can be a trigger for many people with tendencies toward unhealthy behavior or eating disorders. I don’t see an equal self-harm response on the part of skinny women to attempt to look like curvy women. I’m sorry, but I just don’t view it as the same thing. A very skinny, less curvy woman might love her body, or she might feel jealousy and wish for a different body—same as any body shape might feel—but the difference is that the very skinny woman can look in almost any fashion magazine, or at almost any runway show, and see her body type reflected there. Despite not eliminating the possibility of body insecurity, this is still not the case for most other body types who rarely or never see their body type glorified.
I also think that there is a difference between a healthy skinny body and an unhealthy one. I’m not going to name names here or suggest that any certain person is healthier than another, because I don’t know them or their lives, and I’m not a doctor. But some people are skinny because they're naturally skinny, some are skinny because they're athletes, and some are skinny because they are engaging in extreme weight-loss behaviors. I'd like to think that the Victoria's Secret Angels are the first or second kind, but after reading Adriana Lima’s description of her weight loss plan, I have to suspect the opposite. Losing weight by severely restricting calories and over-exercising can be very, very unhealthy and so it is difficult for me to focus on a show celebrating lingerie and women’s sexiness when I am wondering about that.
My point is that, even though there is no call for body-hating on skinny women and calling them “twelve-year-old boys” and so on, there is also the little fact that some women who are that skinny DON’T look like that naturally. Apparently not all of the Angels do, otherwise they would not need to resort to the extreme diet and workout plans they reportedly rely on before the show. And I think that's unnecessary, because I believe that just about everyone looks best at their "natural" weight--the weight they settle at when they go about their lives not obsessing about weight loss and dieting. I would be so much more capable of appreciating the skinny bodies in the VS Fashion Show if I knew they were healthy and natural.
I do enjoy seeing the colorful, frilly, bizarre costumes the Angels wear in the show. The rainbow knee socks. The mermaid costumes. But this year I really struggled with the lack of diversity in the Angels’ body types. Of COURSE the Angels are “Real Women.” But so are ALL women, including those whom Victoria’s Secret would not choose for its runway… and I think it’s those women who don’t hear that often enough.