Victoria’s Secret’s Lack of Representation; Victoria’s Secret took an aggressive step to revamp their brand image in 2019. They ditched their iconic “Angels” in favor of more inclusive “VS Collective” ambassadors.
Northeastern University body confidence expert Rachel Rodgers notes that it will take some time before Northeastern reaches its goals of body positivity.
Victoria’s Secret has long been accused of being overtly sexual. Their products, particularly their lingerie and apparel offerings, often display sexual imagery designed to appeal to men – who find these images romantic.
Lingerie industry trends have transformed over the past decade as new brands entered the market that appeal to a wider array of customers by portraying more inclusive imagery. Victoria’s Secret was initially one such brand but newer ones such as Bodice have emerged that represent different skin tones, sizes, and gender identities more accurately, drawing customers in with body-positive designs that showcase diversity.
Victoria’s Secret has fallen behind consumer trends and cultural attitudes in various respects. Their annual Angels fashion show consistently casts white or racially ambiguous models who rarely showcased their natural bodies, leading many to question its ability to attract a wider range of consumers while becoming out-of-touch with modern shoppers.
Therefore, it is no wonder that Victoria’s Secret stock has been steadily declining over the years and that they have experienced numerous financial setbacks.
Responding to these criticisms, the company has attempted to alter both its image and marketing strategy by recruiting a group of diverse models who will serve as ambassadors for its new campaign. These models include soccer star Megan Rapinoe, skier/teen Olympian Eileen Gu, biracial model Paloma Elsesser and inclusivity advocate Paloma Elsesser as well as actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
The Male Gaze
The male gaze has an enormously negative effect on women in society. It forces women to conform to an idealized patriarchal ideal of how they should appear and behave, often damaging mental health, self-esteem and relationships by seeing themselves only as objects for sexual encounter rather than as individuals with values and potential.
The male gaze has existed since the late 1800s. You can witness its influence everywhere from advertisements, pornography and fashion magazines to advertisements.
According to this theory, men tend to view women as sexual objects and thus pay close attention when viewing images of them, specifically the legs, chest, and buttocks.
Feminist film critic and art historian, John Berger first introduced this theory that has revolutionized how photographers depict women’s bodies in their work. It can also be applied to photography.
An artist could create the impression that they were watching and judging the viewer by framing a painting of a naked woman so she looks directly at the viewer, which creates the feeling that she’s peering directly into your eyeballs and watching for their reaction.
Though this thought can be uncomfortable, many of us have felt it at some point or another. Although this feeling might not always be good news, it can help shed light on our thoughts about others and improve communication between individuals.
Once we recognize how this concept affects our lives, it’s a good idea to work toward dislodging its hold over how we perceive ourselves and the world. By changing your thinking or eliminating gender stereotypes altogether, doing this may help reduce some of its harmful effects and reduce male gaze’s negative consequences.
The male gaze can have a strong impact on society, so escaping its grip is vital if you want to lead an empowered life. Furthermore, you could work towards eliminating it in your relationship by showing them you value them beyond sexual attraction alone.
The Brand’s History
Victoria’s Secret has long been considered the go-to lingerie brand, and it’s easy to see why. Victoria’s Secret is an American brand and staple in the lingerie industry; yet its history is littered with controversy; from blackface and fat shaming incidents to issues related to race inequality, Victoria’s Secret has had to contend with many issues over time.
Roy Raymond launched Victoria’s Secret in 1977 at a time when most lingerie brands like Hanes, Jockey and Fruit of the Loom offered functional items without much sensual allure. Yet Raymond realized there was more to lingerie than lacy thongs and push-up bras;
So he altered his vision, creating an upscale European-inspired brand of women’s lingerie that was both affordable and popular among consumers. By the early 90s, this business had grown into the largest lingerie retailer in America with sales surpassing $1 billion.
As the lingerie industry began to change, so too did Victoria’s Secret. In 1983, they updated their image and brand identity to align with social values of that era, revamping catalogs with more risque designs while revamping ads to exude luxury, allure and envy.
Victoria’s Secret quickly established an image with consumers that resonated with consumers, leading to them conquering the American lingerie market by the 1990s. By then, they had 350 stores nationwide and sales had exceeded $1 billion!
In the 1990s, the brand relied heavily on its annual fashion show to build its image. This became part of their marketing strategy and eventually evolved into an entertainment event featuring supermodels dressed as angels walking down a runway with wings and diamond-studded bras strutting down it.
Thankfully, the company has since taken steps to improve its representation of women.
Victoria’s Secret, established to cater specifically to women, has struggled due to a lack of representation for female employees at its headquarters and how it operates; leaving itself vulnerable in its operations and branding strategies.
Due to this reality, the brand has recently implemented some changes. Notably, it abandoned the traditional Angels collection for more inclusive models – an act that may help prevent its collapse entirely.
However, the decision to discontinue Angels has drawn considerable criticism. Many critics have voiced concerns that such an action is insensitive and disregards what women truly require from lingerie products.
Decisions like this one could cause further offense among potential customers who don’t feel confident enough wearing clothing that only features women of certain body types and sizes, potentially leading to less sales and the possibility that people shop elsewhere instead.
The company has made some strides toward becoming more proactive. For instance, they now focus on using sustainable materials, ranking at 0.5 out of 100 on the 2020 Sustainable Cotton Ranking and receiving a C grade on CDP Climate Change program since 2016.
Victoria’s Secret has come under scrutiny for their labor practices as reported by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Victoria’s Secret has recently come under scrutiny for failing to properly address sexual misconduct claims made against former CMO Ed Razek, such as asking models to sit on his lap during casting sessions and placing his hand on their crotch during castings.