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No Angels: Why We Need Regular Women on Magazine Covers
No Angels: Why We Need Regular Women on Magazine Covers
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Our columnist Ekaterina Popova explains why replacing models with ordinary women is important for all of us, and there is no need to worry that this will "kill beauty."

No Angels: Why We Need Regular Women on Magazine Covers

In June 2021, Victoria's Secret decided to abandon its famous "angels" - the models that represent the company at the annual shows. The show has existed since 1995: the event, in which women with flawless bodies showcased delicious sexy lingerie, has been the hallmark of the brand for almost 20 years.

Models dreamed of becoming "angels", among them were the world's top beauties: Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, Miranda Kerr, Karolina Kurkova, Gisele Bündchen, Barbara Palvin, Elsa Hosk. Victoria's Secret Angels was the first brand to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The show was watched by millions of viewers.

Angels are dead, long live angels: the company announced that now seven women will become its face, most of whom are not associated with the beauty industry - journalist and photographer Amanda de Cadenet, football player and LGBT activist Megan Rapino, skier Eileen Gu, lawyer, body activist and plus size model Paloma Essler, actress Priyanka Chopra, transgender model Valentina Sampaio and South Sudanese model Adut Akech.

Surprisingly, it took only three years for Victoria's Secret to completely change its course. In 2018, marketing director Ed Razek gave a vague answer to the question of attracting plus size models and transgender people in an interview with Vogue: “Yes, but no”: our show is already watched by billions, and we sell to those to whom we sell, and not to the whole world. … “We tried to make a special TV episode for large sizes in 2000, but nobody was interested in that then, and they are not interested even now,” Razek said. The marketer was silent about the rapidly falling sales.

In February 2020, The New York Times published an investigation into Angels in Hell. Thirty former and current employees of the company said that Razek, who invented the angel show, sprinkled sexist statements about the girls and regularly harassed them. One after another, large shareholders filed complaints against senior managers who cultivated an atmosphere of misogyny, bullying and harassment in the company.

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The result was the abolition of the Victoria's Secret "angels". Instead, the "VS Group" (VS Collective) appeared, consisting of women of different races, sexual and gender orientations and professions. The new ambassadors will not only represent Victoria's Secret products, but will also protect the interests of women. The show, watched by billions, is a thing of the past.

The media reacted to the incident in different ways. New York Times author Jennifer Weiner wrote that better late than never. Jitendr Sehdev said at Forbes that the brand has adhered to outdated stereotypes about beauty for too long and the company is only making one last desperate attempt to save itself from bankruptcy.

But ordinary viewers, including women, were upset by the closing of the show. Social networks were full of annoyed comments.

But let's leave aside the company's financial situation, although the reasons for the cancellation of the show are best demonstrated: the fashion and beauty industry is only interested in sales. The disappearance of the "angels" and the emergence of new ambassadors should not be mourned: in fact, what happened will benefit us all.

The angel show was a lie

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On the web, you can see perplexed comments: “What was wrong with the show? After all, the "angels" promoted a healthy lifestyle! " Indeed, journalists most often asked models about what they eat and how often they exercise. Most of the Victoria's Secret "angels" responded with traditional phrases about yoga, swimming, personal trainer and smart nutrition - even those who returned to the podium almost immediately after giving birth and showed great physical shape.

One of the exceptions was Adriana Lima, who in 2011 admitted to a Telegraph reporter that three weeks before the show she trained twice a day, nine days she went on a liquid diet, and 12 hours before going on the podium she stopped eating and drinking altogether. This was in stark contrast to the stories of other models.

This does not mean that they lied, trying to create the illusion of a body-positive attitude towards themselves, explaining that their tactics are moderate fitness, not drinking soda and eight hours of sleep. There are women who are naturally slim. They really don't have to put in a titanic effort to look great.

But when they are collected in one place and they all repeat in chorus: "Oh, this form does not require excessive efforts!" - it creates the illusion that any of us can be like the "angel" of Victoria's Secret. And if a girl does not do this, she is not just lazy, but blatantly idle and inactive. This cultivates a sense of guilt in seven out of ten women who have not won the genetic lottery for perfect skin, no thin waist, or tight high breasts.

The new ambassadors are likely to lead an equally healthy lifestyle - at least there are two sportswomen among them. And it's high time to show that a healthy lifestyle is not equal to appearance. Each of us has the right to live without shame for the fact that she does not want to make very little effort to be beautiful.

The angel show focused on the appearance of women

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Another question that arose from the audience: why, in fact, the show was closed? What prevented you from continuing shooting with new models? Victoria's Secret shows were the birthday of the heart for those who appreciate beauty, a holiday, a window to the wonderful world of haute couture and graceful things. Just include plus-size models, transgender people and other trendsetters: we agree that showing diversity is important. But why cancel the event itself?

But simple logic dictates: the show format is incompatible with the new ambassadors. Most of the questions angels have been asked have always been about food and lifestyle, but what's the point in asking a lawyer or a skier about that? The information that Megan is eating a sandwich for breakfast and Paloma is doing yoga will give us nothing. Everyone understands that savasana and toasted bread will not make a lawyer or a football player out of anyone.

The daily routine of the models was interesting to the audience for one reason: every girl was eager to learn how to be just as beautiful. But how many of us want to be professional athletes or body positive activists? With the new representatives of the brand, we simply have nothing to talk about: and it is so clear how these women achieved their position. There are no recipes for “just add some fitness and fresh juice to your life”. We know that our goals must be achieved with hard work, even without them.

A woman's appearance has been at the center of public attention for too long. It's time to change the paradigm and look at those who are not beautiful, but significant in themselves, in isolation from how they look. Getting into a prom dress at 40 or carrying a passport at 30 to sell alcohol in stores is not an achievement worth spending time and effort on.

We need to look more at ordinary women

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Most subscribers of body-positive publics have probably heard the term "observance" and know that the contribution of this practice to self-acceptance is colossal. In one of the groups for mutual support of obese women on Facebook, a spontaneous flash mob is now taking place: the participants post their pictures in swimsuits. And already in the second week, the posts were often accompanied by the comment: "Looking at the others, I realized that everything is fine with me, and now I am ready to show myself."

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The ability to see women who are not "angels" at all, but ordinary people with different builds, helps us to realize our own normality. And when such girls become models, it allows you to believe: it is not beauty that is valuable, but individuality.

“Don't drink water from your face” is a pitiful consolation for those who do not fit into the modern norms of aesthetics, and there are nine out of ten of them.But when those who are famous for their lives, and not for their appearance, become ambassadors of world famous brands, the picture of the world really changes.

Beauty is a phoenix that burns and reborn

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Many opponents of body positivity express fears that women will follow the example of "fat women" and "old women" - and female beauty will disappear. But this has always been the case: some canons of attractiveness replaced others. Khodchenkova, who played the wife of Boris Godunov, the beautiful Maria, would have caused bewilderment in the 17th century: she was so thin, ugly!

Different people have different tastes. The peasants appreciated large women "blood and milk", at the same time, noblewomen wore corsets that accentuated the wasp's waist. We are not created by clones, and therefore it is strange to limit the idea of ​​beauty to only "angels", crossing out all the rest.

Broadening standards will not only benefit women. While some men scare us with universal erectile dysfunction due to the dominance of body positive, others breathe a sigh of relief: not only I think fullness is beautiful, not abs. It is not so easy to admit your desires if in society what you like is branded as ugly.

The end of the Victoria's Secret "angels" is not even the beginning of a new era. Back in the 1980s, Leslie Wexner wanted to create stores that would make customers feel comfortable. A return to the roots awaits us: the brand is trying to become close to every woman, regardless of her size. And the show, albeit a favorite, is a very small price for it.

Are you sorry about canceling the Victoria's Secret show? Not really

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