By Sofia Weddle
November brings with it turkey, family, freshly chopped Christmas trees, turning leaves, and, most importantly, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. This event, marked by a following of 6 million viewers, showcases the brand’s new lingerie and its infamous and outrageously bejewelled Fantasy Bra. However, even with the great popularity of Victoria’s Secret across the world, the 2017 show has garnered great controversy and immense negative publicity. Is this the end of a 22-year old fashion era? Only time will tell.
The first problem the brand approached was their location: Shanghai, China. From an outside perspective, the city may seem the perfect place for a worldwide televised event, but you would be wrong. Evidently, China is not a fan of Victoria’s Secret or its models. According to Forbes journalist Pamela Ambler, although the country initially gave permission for the VS Fashion Show to take place in Shanghai, Gigi “Hadid along with a handful of Russian and Ukrainian models were denied visas without explanation”. Hadid may have expected this censorship, as she was recently blasted on social media for racistly imitating Buddha.
But the overlying question remains: Why the Russian and Ukrainian models? Is China publicly defying their long-held communist ally because of capitalist differences? Journalists, politicians, and ordinary people around the globe have stark and controversial opinions on the matter, and so do the students of Glenelg High School. Junior Anna Haney says that “it wasn’t fair for the Chinese government [to take away models’ visas]. But, it was a little pushy to go there [Shanghai] in the first place because [of China’s harsh censorship]”. However, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show’s problems didn’t end with China’s censorship of certain models.
Even without the substantial bumps in its road to Shanghai, Victoria’s Secret has experienced more troubling criticism throughout social media because of the chosen models. 2017 has become the year of diversity and acceptance of all appearances-- except when it comes to Victoria’s Secret. After plus-size model Ashley Graham tweeted a statement against Victoria’s Secret’s lack of plus-size models, it seemed the whole Twitterverse agreed as teens and adults alike simultaneously slammed the brand. According to an anonymous Glenelg student, the size exclusive show and lingerie “are downsizing their [Victoria Secret’s] brand. Plus-size women won’t relate to the brand because they only see skinny, fit people”. Haney agrees and raises an important question: “Why would you buy from a brand that makes you feel bad about yourself?” For a person like myself who rarely buys expensive bras, hardly pays attention to which models are chosen to walk, and watches the VS Fashion solely for the purpose of staring bright-eyed at shiny jewels and fluffy white wings, the plus-size debate originally seemed inconsequential. But now, the answer seems all too obvious and all too necessary. While the likes of Elle, Vogue, and Vanity Fair have been posing plus-size models on their glossy covers, Victoria’s Secret has yet to include such models in their shows or campaigns. Simply put, VS needs to implement plus size lines and relatable models into their brand now.
After the landfall of Chinese censorship and plus-size disputes, Victoria’s Secret has a limited chance to save itself and its marketable reputation. This show could be a great turning point for VS, regarding both the body inclusion of its future lingerie lines and fashion shows and its location choices for such shows. However, if the brand remains stubborn to change while the present social climate continues, there may not be a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to watch. Your move, VS.