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Victoria’s Secret: The show’s comeback is the end of diversity

Victoria’s Secret: The show’s comeback is the end of diversity

Victoria’s Secret is showing another big catwalk show this fall. The brand announced the end of the angel spectacle in 2019. Why the comeback means the end of diversity

The Instagram video shows the blonde top model Candice Swanepoel backstage at a show. She is holding her cell phone in her hand, typing a message. “Models on the catwalk!” she writes. “Pack up your wings!” Before you realize what the South African could mean by that, she stands up and shows the print on the back of her T-shirt. “We are back” is written there, underneath the name: Victoria’s Secret.

For heaven’s sake, the Fallen Angels show is back!

The brand only clipped its models’ wings in 2019 and announced the end of the shrill soft porn parade. For many years the show was considered great entertainment; millions of viewers around the world watched as highly paid top models such as Candice Swanepoel, Gisele Bündchen and Kendall Jenner walked down the catwalk half-naked and in their underwear.

Seven Victoria's Secret models on the catwalk

The fact that the show will now return in the fall, with all the supposed glamor and iconization of its laundry angels, is like a catastrophe. Because haven’t we already made a step further in terms of feminism and diversity?

Five years have passed since the last show spectacle. A long time in which some people might have forgotten why Victoria’s Secret failed back then.

Victoria’s Secret: the deep fall of the once hyped brand

In fact, the brand is a prime example of what went wrong at the time. At that time, the #MeToo movement was spreading, and more and more women were resisting the dominance of many men. A problem that was also not unknown at Victoria’s Secret. Assaults, abuse and misogyny were part of everyday life, but complaints about them were always nipped in the bud by the management team. But when Leslie Wexner, CEO of Victoria’s Secret and founder of the parent company L Brands, was proven to have connections to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, he finally had to take his hat off.

Another old, white man also fell from his position at that time: marketing boss Ed Razek. Back then, women rebelled against the ideal of beauty shown on the catwalks, which told them what they should look like. Tall, slim, well-trained: Many women understood that models can only be transformed into almost unattainably beautiful angels through hard training and constant dieting. Since models of different sizes walked the catwalks even in the fashion capitals at the time, many questioned why Victoria’s Secret didn’t also rely on more diverse model casting. Ed Razek, the lingerie company’s marketing director, had a clear answer: “Why not? Because the show is a fantasy. A 42-minute entertainment spectacle. That’s why not!”

But that’s exactly where Victoria’s Secret stumbled: the image of men’s fantasy. For years people had lost sight of who they were actually making lingerie for, namely women. Their answer: They turned away from the brand. The deep fall of Victoria’s Secret – it was also her triumph.

Victoria’s Secret: A man’s fantasy forever

In recent years there have been repeated attempts by the lingerie company to become more diverse. They advertised with plus-size models such as Paloma Elsesser, as well as with the lesbian soccer world champion and LGBTQ activist Megan Rapinoe. But the image remained tarnished.

The fact that the show will now return in the fall is like a farce – and a huge disappointment. In fact, many hoped that diversity would not just remain a fancy buzzword, but that real change would happen. After all, different body shapes and skin colors reflect real life. But it has been clear on the catwalks for some time now that the once celebrated diversity is clearly dwindling. During the shows in Paris and Milan this spring, only a few plus-size models were seen, but instead there were many ultra-thin girls who were reminiscent of the heroin chic of the nineties.

Even if you don’t want to admit it, the comeback of the Victoria’s Secret show cements the fact that we are back at the beginning when it comes to diversity. From heaven to hell – what a descent.

Source: Stern

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