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Refashioning beauty standards

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

By Isaac Ang Apr. 7 2022


In a landmark move to conform to changing beauty standards, Victoria’s Secret hired Sofia Jirau, the first person with down syndrome to model for the beauty retailer, on Feb. 14. A company notorious for focusing only on certain body shapes in their previous “Angels” line, Victoria’s Secret began to embrace other body types through their new Love Cloud Collection. Their rebranding could potentially refashion the beauty standard for body types.


Victoria’s Secret’s new campaign represents the company’s recent efforts to abandon traditional perceptions about beauty and recruit models from a diverse set of backgrounds.

Along with Jirau, the collection features 18 women including Valentina Sampaio, the first trans woman to model for Victoria’s Secret.


“By focusing on recruiting models of diverse body types, Victoria’s Secret is expanding their representation, which is crucial to including those who typically feel excluded,” Sophomore Aayrah Khan said.


Quincy Han Art

Founded in 1977, Victoria’s Secret initially began as Roy Raymond’s project to establish a lingerie store where men could feel comfortable shopping for their wives. However, after finding itself in dire financial straits, the company decided to shift towards a female audience, which brought them massive success, according to Business Insider. By focusing on luxurious-looking yet affordable clothing, Victoria’s Secret achieved huge growth in the late 1990s and 2000s, quickly becoming America’s largest lingerie retailer. In 1997, Victoria’s Secret ran a commercial featuring women dressed as angels; the Angels came to represent the company.


Victoria’s Secret’s controversy-riddled history may illuminate the company’s motives for rebranding. Its primarily male-dominated administration, ties with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and demeaning model selection process have stained the company’s record, according to many critics. By hiring models based on their achievements and not their body proportions, Victoria’s Secret’s rebranding could signal that the company is trying to break from its past.


Quincy Han Art

However, the Love Cloud Collection is not Victoria’s Secret’s first attempt at increasing their diversity—in June 2021, the company replaced the Angels brand with the VS Collective. The VS Collective starred seven women from a wide range of careers, such as soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Indian actress Priyanka Chopra and Sampaio.


Teen Vogue reports that since 2019, Victoria’s Secret has been actively seeking models from various careers, races and gender identities. In October 2019, the company hired Ali Tate Cutler—its first plus-size model—and canceled its lavish fashion show, which had aired every year since 1999. In summer 2020, the company hired tennis star Naomi Osaka and began installing more body fluid mannequins in stores.


“Victoria’s Secret expansion of diversity shows that everyone is beautiful in their own way. Unfortunately, I do not think that beauty standards will change, as most people would still find muscular men and slim women more attractive,” Junior Tina Ramezani said.

According to Vox, body positivity became more mainstream in 2000. Sports magazines began placing plus-size models on their front covers and activists began pushing for change. This recent erosion of body shape expectations have driven other clothing companies to undertake similar changes. For example, Old Navy recently eliminated the plus-size section from stores and Fashion Magazine reported that the company overhauled a policy that previously charged more for bigger sizing.

While some beauty brands may claim that their diversification reflects their true beliefs regarding body types, critics question whether they are authentic. Consumers have pointed out how Victoria’s Secret only rebranded while their competitors were also doing so and how only after so many scandals did the company devote themselves to body diversity.


In spite of this, Victoria’s Secret’s rebranding symbolizes an important step in diversifying body types by accepting models from different ethnic, gender and career backgrounds. Despite doubts about companies’ true motivations, more companies have begun conversations on connecting with people who previously were invisible to the beauty industry.


 

About the Contributors

Isaac Ang

Staff Writer


Isaac Ang is a junior at Leland High School and staff writer for the Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys reading, playing ping pong, and experiencing nature. He is an avid rock climber. His academic interests include math, science, and coding.

Screen reader support enabled.






Quincy Han

Artist


Quincy is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. He is just a little guy that likes to play video games and listen to Will Wood.

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