“For me, fantasies are more effective when there’s diversity. And…a lot of the models looked alike, not a lot of different body types back then…no racial diversity,” Lyndsey Scott said. , a former Victoria’s Secret model. “It became clear to me that Victoria’s Secret was not empowering women. They were using such a narrow idea of beauty in their marketing, that they were doing quite the opposite. Women felt bad about themselves.”
In the early 21st century, Victoria’s Secret touted an unattainable body type that was only achievable through Photoshop, plastic surgery, and other extreme enhancements. The brand’s marketing tactics played on women’s insecurities and ultimately distorted healthy body image. About 60-80% of American women said they wanted to be slimmer while 89% of teenage girls said they felt pressured by the fashion industry to lose weight.
“Today people are screaming about Instagram’s effects on young girls,” said Michael Gross, author of the 1995 novel “Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women.” “At the time, Victoria’s Secret was the analog version of the same thing.”
Victoria’s Secret models even lambasted the extreme diets and weight requirements they had to adhere to, especially ahead of the annual fashion show. Dorothea Barth Jörgensen, a former PINK model, said she didn’t eat much during the 10 years she worked as a model for the brand. Tyra Banks, in an old interview, said she was once told to lose 10 pounds. At 5’10 and 123 pounds, she was deemed “too curvy”.
In recent years, Victoria’s Secret has ditched its old-fashioned tactics and become a more inclusive brand in terms of size and gender. According to a 2021 Teen Vogue article, the brand is “moving away from telling customers ‘what’s sexy and how to look’ in favor of supporting consumers ‘through every phase of their lives’.”
“It’s a change led by an all-new board of seven people, including six women.”