When the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show premieres tonight, CBS will be sure to rank high in the Nielsen ratings , if last year is any indication.
The fashion show brought in 10 million viewers to the network channel in 2011.
Since the first show in1995, Victoria’s Secret has been putting models on the catwalk to show off their lingerie. The models, or Angels, strut out in nothing but undress and an elaborate set of wings; their bodies fully exposed to the viewing audience.
As the models walk down the runway, the intricate details and fanciful atmosphere the producers of the show create will distract most people. A closer look at the Angels themselves shows that these models don’t portray what women actually look like.
“Programs like [the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show] suggest as a woman, you have to look like these models in order to be appreciated,” Beauty By Design President Aminah Ford-Ellison (sophomore-integrative arts) said.
The problem showcases how possible it is for women to meet these standards. In a November 2011 interview with Telegraph , Adriana Lima , veteran VS Angel, revealed the diet she follows to maintain the model body.
Nine days before the show, Lima drinks only protein shakes made with powdered egg, she told Telegraph –– avoiding solid foods altogether.
The typical model body is expressed by three numbers: 34”-24”-34” according to Rader Programs, a treatment facility for anorexia. Each number represents a measurement of the bust, waist, and hips of a woman. A woman’s body with those measurements would look like this: a B-cup bust, a 00-0 pant size and a hip line that is ten inches wider around than the waist.
This body type that is portrayed in the media is only possible naturally by 5 percent of American females, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported.
Not to mention, the models have to be a minimum height of 5’9”. The average weight for a woman who is 5’9” is 145 lbs., but this would not allow a model to fit the “ideal” body image. In January 2012, Plus Model Magazine reported that the average fashion model weighs 23 percent less than the average woman, making the model susceptible to anorexia.
“Body image is such a huge issue now,” Megan Miller (freshman- biology) said. “Young girls are so impressionable and when they see everyone ‘oooing and awing’ over the models, it’s going to get into their heads whether they want it to or not.”
ANAD reported that 69 percent of girls in grades five through 12 were influenced by magazine pictures, believing that this is the perfect body type.
This body image for women has not always existed, but what in society has changed to create this?
“Body weights and appearance standards have changed over time,” John Fulton , professor of sociology, said. “Back in the Middle Ages, skinny was unhealthy.”
Even in the past 10 years, standards have rapidly evolved. In the article, Plus Model Magazine gave its reader statistics on how the phrase “plus-size” has changed. The magazine said that the average plus-size model 10 years ago was between a size 12 to 18. Today, we see models between a size six to 14 being called plus-sized.
Fashion and cinema have become the real culprits, Fulton said. It’s obvious that our opinion of women’s bodies has become “the skinnier the better,” and models show this to the world.
“Not surprisingly, then, if women have internalized these values, and if [media outlets] all have a vested economic interest in perpetuating a woman's dual sense of self, then we shouldn't be surprised if Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is a big success,” Manni Samarth , lecturer in English and women studies said. “We should be surprised if it is not.”
Yet, Lina Vernikov said she doesn’t think Victoria’s Secret is trying to alter the way women view their bodies.
“Personally, I don’t think they are trying to make you feel pressure,” Vernikov (freshman-communications) said. “It’s all about marketing and making money.”
No matter what, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show always attracts a large amount of viewers, but experts say a distinction must be made between the model in the fantasy and the average woman.
“As hard as it is, women should take a close look at themselves. If we are being suckered, we are smart enough to know it,” Samarth said. “And then we can take fashion shows for just what they are –– entertaining fluff.”