Every year, like clockwork, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show airs, and my newsfeed immediately floods with harrowing statuses from female peers about how they all of a sudden "feel fat" and they're "going on a diet TOMORROW." It seems that for all the sequined tit-holsters and bedazzled thongs Victoria's Secret manufactures, the thing it's best at producing is a demonstrative dip in female self-esteem. And among these trying times, I just want to remind all of you: You do not need to look like a Victoria's Secret model.
I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes right now, thinking I'm not saying that's new or revolutionary or hasn't been put in a Meghan Trainor song. Besides, maybe you personally don't experience this, and it's true that on a base level, society has gotten wise to the fact that most women don't look like Karlie Kloss and company. The backlash against this years Perfect Body ad campaign, and the subsequent revamp made that evident.
However, I'm not referring to the big picture that we, as sophisticated media-savvy young women realize on a deeper level. I'm talking about the inner child—or maybe even the literal child—that sees these women strut down the stage and suddenly doubts their appeal. "Why am I not beautiful," you think, "Why do I not look like that?" There's a resolution made to try harder to get those toned abs, those rail-thin legs, as box after box of Hostess desserts are systematically burned in a bonfire. It's unrealistic, it's self-defeating, and it's bullshit. Pep up, ladies.
Also, and I tread this subject tepidly I'm not sure any of us would really do well upholding the cherished, and deeply constructed, Victoria's Secret look. I don't say this to body shame, just to acknowledge that their go-to Amazonian beauty standard—that is, to be six foot three and 90 pounds—is overpowering and maintaining that probably dominates their entire lives. Yeah, there are days where I'd be OK murdering a handful of people if it meant I could look like Adriana Lima, but truth be told, I don't know if strapping on some wings and parading around in my skivvies would be the best use of over a decade. That's just me.
Truth is, being a woman and having a body—any body—is complicated enough. Being valued for that specifically must come with it's own baggage. Food for thought.
This all said, my problems are not with the Angels themselves, nor is my problem with, you know, dieting or fitsperation (in moderation). My problem isn't even with Victoria's Secret, necessarily. I used to sell their lingerie with a tight, red-lipped smile every holiday season, and I'll still buy some things during the semi-annual sale, all the while instinctively folding panties. What I'm at war with is the tricky and fragile nature of female self-esteem.
I think an interesting thing about the feminine nature is that you could build up confidence for years, get comfortable with your flaws, realize your self-worth is constructed by a myriad of talents and not limited to physical appearance. Then some size 0 bombshell with beachy waves walks past you and all that is shattered instantaneously.
Whether we scream our insecurities into the vast abyss of the Internet or refuse to acknowledge it, even to ourselves, I feel like that fickleness of self-esteem lives in all of us. So in light of recent events, this all bears repeating, so you can pick up those pieces just as quickly.
Today, when you put on some rhinestone bra from the Victoria's Secret False Promises collection, don't get discouraged if it doesn't magically turn you into Candice Swanepoel. And even if you do have that moment, pick yourself up and realize that you don't have to live by the standards of a well-packaged illusion. Go on, eat that hostess cupcake. You're an angel in my eyes.