Should Victoria's Secret Keep Their Signature Style of Model Selection?

Should Victoria's Secret Keep Their Signature Style of Model Selection?

After reading thoughts on Victoria's Secret getting negative feedback for their choice of models, I have some thoughts on the matter as well and how it affects our cultural view of models and of course, the style that we photographers shoot. There're some critics who feel that Victoria's Secret should include plus-size or transgender models in their fashion show.

Hazel Cills writes here about how she feels the fit, beautiful women for the signature lingerie company are causing them to lose popularity with the younger viewers. It sort of reminds me of the criticism that A&F received for not manufacturing clothes for plus sizes.

There was a quote about Ed Razek not understanding why it's culturally ok to skinny-shame the Victoria's Secret models. I agree with him: it isn't ok; these models are fit and beautiful. The Victoria's Secret models are a source of inspiration to young models and photographers as well. I watch the Fashion Show and follow all the Angels on Instagram. Why? Well, they are pretty girls, and that's a nice bonus. But the real value for a photographer here is how great of models they are: the ways they walk into a room, stand, sit, etc. are top notch. These are some of the finest models in the world in my opinion. 

Mr. Razek is accused of being out of touch with the younger customer base by featuring pretty, fit models. Honestly, that is his choice, after all, but I agree with his choice. The reason why is because these models are fit and healthy, after all. They eat healthy, exercise, and are great role models. They are most certainly not malnourished, unhealthy, too skinny, etc. America is known as the most obese country all around the world and for a good reason. I myself am overweight, and I hate it; it's wildly uncomfortable, and I am working to remedy that. So, I certainly don't think a company should be bullied into promoting being overweight. At the end of the day, this is a world-leading lingerie company; it's expected they would have healthy and fit models. 

Shooting the style of photos I do, I shoot a lot of thin, fit women, and I've always thought Mr. Razek's choices have been stellar. I like to learn from the Angels in tips and things I share and help my models with on set.

And most importantly here, when I think of Victoria's Secret, I think of the tall, thin, pretty models. I have nothing against a plus-size model, and I do not wish to bash them. Plus-size models have a right to be whatever size they are comfortable with; however, brands also have a right to select models they are comfortable with to promote the type of image they choose. There are other companies out there that specialize and cater to different types of models. I would compare this to me being upset that I couldn't be in a Calvin Klein ad because I am too heavy. Instead of being mad at them for featuring fit guys, I admit I am overweight and I go on about my business with what is within my means.

Encouraging positivity and happiness, the Victoria's Secret models always are healthy, happy, and friendly, and I think that's a wonderful image to present these role models in. Because let's face it, young girls do look up to these models. Below is one of my favorite Victoria's Secret models, always smiling and happy, promoting positivity. She never bashes heavy women; it seems pretty unfair that the bashing is a one-way street.

Some of today's culture seems to want everyone and everything to be equal. The reality is people are not the same: some people are tall, some short, some fat, some thin, and it is what it is. Victoria's Secret is known for tall, thin models; that's their right. Let's not try to push a square peg through a round hole. They are a great source of inspiration for me as a photographer, and I like it the way it is.

I normally average 250-400 likes on a model photo. When I recently posted a thin, fit Czech model shot in the same way I do everything else with the same hashtags, it rose to over 1,800. It seems clear to me what people would like to see when it comes to sexy models, and this would apply to the Victoria's Secret lingerie as well.

What do you think? Do you think Victoria's Secret should change its branding and platform to concede to these requests? If you do think that plus-size models should be in this show, I'd like to hear a reason why.

Lead image credit: Tofros via Pexels.

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111 Comments

Somewhere I heard, 'Whether you marry a beautiful woman or an ugly one, eventually you stop noticing.' My wife is beautiful.

Nick Viton's picture

"if you want to be happy for the rest of your life
never make a pretty woman your wife
so for my personal point of view
get an ugly girl to marry you"

Bill Larkin's picture

I thought I was among the few today who know that song :)

Cherokee Lair's picture

This is such a sad, typical, myopic, misogynist, male point of view that I have decided to take time out of my busy Saturday evening and educate you just a little because I'm embarrassed by your ignorance and a little bit appalled fstoppers would print something so devoid of value beyond some photographers semi-boner.
Yes, of course you got more likes on a photo of a half naked girl.
Yes, of course photographs of Victoria's Secret models are always "happy". They are paid to be happy the same way strippers are paid to smile at you...
But, do you know anything about Victoria Secrets bottom line and how they are struggling to maintain relevancy in the lingerie market?
They are bleeding debt because so-called "normal" women don't shop their flimsy fall-apart crappy lingerie while wealthy, thin women shop high-end lingerie like La Perla.
And while we are discussing that these "pretty-happy" models are bankrupting Victoria's Secret, let's discuss your complete lack of knowledge of the health of VS models. Some admit to having horrific Eating Disorders including bulimia, binge eating disorder and/or anorexia.
Men like you have projected a ridiculous, Disney Princess fantasy of a woman onto these models for the sake of your sexual fantasies. But, sexual fantasies sell lingerie to men, they don't sell it to the women who have to wear it day after day.
Victoria Secret models have an unhealthy body mass to height ratio and most are not physcially healthy. The average height of an American woman is around 5 ft 4 in and her weight is a healthy 130ish.
A marketing plan that attempts to sell an ideal to a real-world woman, will never survive.
Victoria's Secret's models & many of their stores, will soon go the way of the Playmates and Playboy magazine and I hope your myopic, misogynistic, views go with them.

Leigh Miller's picture

I agree....and I know cigars and rum are bad for me...but I like them anyway :-(

Rob Davis's picture

This is such a sad, typical, victim narrative driven female point of view I just had take time out of my busy Saturday evening to educate you little femsplainer who screams “patriarchy” any time anyone talks about female sexuality, but has no problem infantilizing and shaming men for expressing their own sexuality.

These are not men’s items. Men do not buy Victoria’s Secret. The fashion magazines are not bought by men. Even if men did, it’s not misogyny to value things you don’t posses. You are not “women.” You do not speak for them and are not empowered to educate on their behalf.

The brave thing to do here would be to share your own personal experience, how these things hurt you personally and let us reflect. Instead you project these feelings onto all women which is dishonest. Women are not a collective. Let them be seen as individuals covering the spectrum of human experience and speak for yourself alone.

This is makes YOU feel sad. This makes YOU feel less desired. These are YOUR feelings to own.

I see these women like professional athletes. They’re fun to watch but I don’t see them as the standard by any means.

Men can both have a fantasy sexuality and a realistic one. Don’t be a slut shamer.

Cherokee Lair's picture

I am having a wonderful time copying and pasting your mansplaining.
It may even become the definitive definition of mansplaining on the net.
"Aw, did she leave you for a doctor?" #rhetorical

David Penner's picture

I just assume when someone uses the term mansplaining they have no logical argument. Do men buy Victoria secret stuff? Sure. For the most part when men don't really care what women wear. Women care what other women look like and what they wear more than what men do.

Cherokee Lair's picture

Are you aware of what happens when you use the word assume?

David Penner's picture

When I use the word assume I just mean I know I'm right and it's just a nice way of saying you are wrong.

Cherokee Lair's picture

Ps. Google is your friend.
We can't stop laughing over your misnomer that men don't buy Victoria's Secret... Why do you think the Victoria Secret's models were invented?
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/victorias-secret-sells-womens-underwea...

Rob Davis's picture

I assume by “we” you mean your posters of the supreme 4th wave feminist icons Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer while you play with the beginner Wicca kit you got at the mall.

Rob Davis's picture

This article does not prove your case. It says the marketing is for men, but doesn’t really make that case. It’s does make an important distinction between the role of lingerie vs. underwear. Lingerie is a niche, special occasion garment. It is not the standard. It is fantasy. Just like the VS models are named after a fantasy character, “angels.”

It’s fun. Maybe it’s not your type of fun and that’s okay. Embrace diversity.

Cherokee Lair's picture

I posted that article as evidence that the Victoria's Secret model marketing campaign is bankrupting Victoria's Secret.

Rob Davis's picture

That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just old. For the past 20 years the company has been mostly led by women BTW.

Another business in decline is Hooters. It could be argued that porn accessibility is more a reason for the decline of the “tease” industry than any great moral awakening.

It could be the availabilty of porn...or maybe young men (except for incels) are more likely to see women as people instead of as objects and toys than they used to be in the past.

Rob Davis's picture

Objectification and selfishness are not uniquely male characteristics. It's not that some men don't see women as people, it's that they don't care about the impact to others as much as they want what they want.

You see plenty of that patterns in the way women vote, shop, impact the environment, etc...

Many women exploit people with the power they have, just like many men.

Being a victim does not make someone good.

Eric Salas's picture

We’re you ever going to answer the original question in the title or you just gunna leave us with the impression that only your bleak view of the world matters and since you don’t wear VS, it’s a trash company with hookers for models because they’re unrealistic Barbie dolls?

I’m paraphrasing here, cut me a break.

Patrick Karbownik's picture

Feminism has such a bad rep because of out of hand rants from women like you.

Who are they marketing to?
https://bit.ly/2FJ9SfU

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Seriously Rob, men buy VS so their S.O. will wear it , and then take it off.

Rob Davis's picture

I don’t. Define “men.” Is it 90% of men? 10% of men? How many men are needed to make a sweeping generalization about approximately half the planet?

Matthew Saville's picture

I think that VS /pretends/ they are marketing to men, but only so that women who see the adds will think, "this is what [all] men want me to look like".

Really, whatever number of men actually buy VS for their SO, I highly doubt that it is VS' target market.

Bottom line- VS is failing to reach the next generation of women, because the next generation itself is reimagining what is seen as attractive, and acceptable as a body type, etc.

I say, good riddance to any company that still clings to this outdated "heroin chic" look that came into popularity in the 70's-90's.

You go into a VS store, and most of the shoppers are women under 30. The few men that are there are shopping for a present and have no idea what size their SO is...so it's a guessing game. The underwear bought by men is almost always very uncomfortable and women are glad to peel it off.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

To quote Rob Davis "Men do not buy Victoria’s Secret." "I don’t. Define “men.” Is it 90% of men? 10% of men?"
So if you don't that means "all men" don't buy anything at VS? I have bought things for my W or GF at VS I have seen men buy things there. We don't really have a clue what to buy but "men" do buy things at VS, probably not very much though.

David Penner's picture

Men buy Victoria secret for their wives/gf so their gf feels sexy. For a man to be turned on it doesn't really matter what she is or isn't wearing. For a woman to be turned on is psychological.

Bill Larkin's picture

This is true Jack, and was the original point. Usually it's the obese women that claim the thin & fit women are unhealthy and if you disagree, you're a bad guy. It's pretty comical. And sad, definitely sad also. We are entitled to like what we wish to like.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I agree with you on most but the average American woman wishes she was a healthy 130lbs. :-). The average American female is approximately 5 feet 3 inches and 168.5 pounds.

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

you said it yourself that women don't like their "crappy quality" lingerie while those who can afford it shop La Perla.

so what does that have to do with the models? sounds more like their problem is a poor quality product.

as for a "marketing plan to sell an ideal to a real-world woman"? that's everything. makeup, haircare, clothing that's not lingerie, food... every product is marketed as idealistic. makeup to hide blemishes, haircare to wash out that greasy mess, clothing to make you feel "slim" or "sexy," food that doesn't make you fat... it's all idealistic. if it weren't, it wouldn't sell.

Wasting Time's picture

You are onto exactly what advertisers do. They make you feel bad about yourself so that they can sell you the solution: their product. They do it for everything. It's not gender specific. They want everyone to buy their crap. If we learn to ignore the lies, find happiness from within instead of from a purchase.

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