Does Victoria's Secret deserve forgiveness?
[originally published October 10 2019]
Recently, Victoria's Secret hired its first real plus-sized model. Ali Tate Cutler, who wears a size 14, is much more considerably plus-sized than size 6 model Barbara Palvin. When VS announced that Palvin would be its first plus-sized model, consider yourself fooled if you believed them. In fact, consider yourself fooled if you believe them even now.
Cutler was hired not by decision-makers at Victoria's Secret but instead by Bluebella. Bluebella is another lingerie brand currently in a partnership with VS. As such, we'll be lucky if we see Cutler in any official VS advertising campaigns.
In addition to the Victoria's Secret label hiring a plus-sized model, I recently noticed that the PINK sector of VS has already been using curvier models. Walking past the store the other day, I noticed a model with *gasp* full thighs and a softer stomach featured on a sign outside. It was actually amazing to see that - especially because PINK caters toward the younger audience. Teenagers are so impressionable and young women face the most pressure to conform to beauty standards than perhaps any other demographic. Using a curvy (but most definitely not plus-sized) model aligns with PINK's message more relevantly than VS's classic branding. The girl-power approach definitely called for more diverse representation than the infamous 'maintaining the fantasy' approach.
However, despite VS's recent headlines and minor attempts to include more diversity (remember the FIRST red-headed model that they hired like a year ago?) I am unsure what the future of the company will look like. Victoria's Secret's branding is so embedded in outdated and traditional beauty standards that it will take a lot of effort to alter marketing efforts significantly.
For example, a few months ago I discussed the cancellation of the annual VS fashion show with my family. They believed that it just "isn't right" for Victoria's Secret to adapt to diverse beauty ideals. Why? Because the entire embodiment of VS is elusive, exclusive, and prestigious. While somewhat-affordable prices and sub-par quality garments may not reflect VS's celebrity persona, it's marketing sure has in the past. If VS pulls its roots out from ancient ground, the company is no longer 'Victoria's Secret.' Instead, we may as well refer to it as "the brand that's attempting to not drown" in the competition of brands that are actually progressive and inspiring.
Now, who wants to go stream the Savage X Fenty show again (which high-key made me cry - the culture of the show was beautiful)!?
Do you think that VS deserves forgiveness? Share your thoughts in the comments xx