Is the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Empowering for Women? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Is the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Empowering for Women?

Emma Curtis shows how Victoria's Secret is a fashion brand that represents diversity, but could it be doing more to promote body positivity?

The Christmas holiday season is fast approaching which only means one thing: the return of the extremely popular annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. This event, held on the 28th November in Shanghai, attracts millions of viewers worldwide every year and has done since its debut in the 1990s. However, is this fashion show sending out the right message? Is it teaching us to admire and appreciate female beauty? Or is it simply reinforcing the ideal ‘perfect’ female body type which is already forced upon women by social media? Does this fashion show empower women or provide an unachievable image for women to aspire to?

On the one hand, many others, myself included, would agree that there is nothing wrong with women wanting to model- at the end of the day, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! The female body is amazing and is something that should be celebrated and admired, and what better way to do this than to walk down the runway in gorgeous lingerie! I find it quite refreshing that for once, women are being complimented on their bodies, as opposed to being scrutinised for how they look, their weight and what they’re wearing, which unfortunately is far too commonly seen in tabloids and on social media. There is nothing wrong with praising these stunning models for their athletic figures that they have no doubt worked very hard for, and if this inspires women and young girls to live a healthier lifestyle then it should be promoted! Additionally, I think the fact Victoria’s Secret strive to be racially diverse when choosing their models is also something that should be recognised as it is important to empower all women- not just white women.

Would it not be more empowering for women to see models that look like ordinary, yet beautiful, girls of various sizes, races and heights? Attainable, relatable women?

However, on the other hand, is it right to be putting conventionally attractive women on a runaway, bearing in mind that it will be watched by millions of women- in particular young, easily influenced teenage girls? Does it simply reiterate the idea that sexualising women sells? Is this something we should be promoting? I would argue that the fashion world in general could be largely improved by including models of all statures and weights in order to represent reality; not every woman is of the same build and this should be recognised. Would it not be more empowering for women to see models that look like ordinary, yet beautiful, girls of various sizes, races and heights? Attainable, relatable women? By having only very slim and athletic models, you run the risk of promoting a body image which is unachievable for most women and in a world where body dysmorphia is on the rise, you have to question where so many women get this ‘perfect’ body image from.

At the end of the day, the question of whether the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is empowering for women or not will always be a controversial topic of discussion. If women are able to make their own money by displaying their natural beauty to the world, then who are we to dissuade them from doing so? But does the fashion industry need to be aware of the possible consequences of holding such an event, particularly on young teenage girls? Personally, I believe the issue here is not whether models walking down a runway is empowering or not, but instead the issue is more about being inclusive and representative of the real world. I believe the message the fashion industry should be promoting is that female beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and this diversity should be celebrated! I think it is important for everyone to learn that there is not only ‘one kind’ of beauty; instead we should be learning to compliment and encourage each other to feel confident within our own bodies, without feeling the pressure to look a certain way.



29th November 2017 at 10:00 am

Last Updated

29th November 2017 at 9:42 am

Images from