Did you catch the story earlier this week about seven women who donned nude underwear and protested on the streets of London, England outside the busy Victoria’s Secret shop in Oxford Circus? This was a follow-up to the company’s “historically narrow-minded” runway show of the year. The article was published by Huffpost.
Read it here
The protest was launched by Joanne Morales, founder of Nunude, a UK lingerie brand that carries a wide range of nude garments to accommodate all sizes and skin tones, and Sylvia Mac, childhood burn victim and founder of Love Disfigure, an online advocate for people with scars and skin conditions in mainstream media and pop culture. The pair “called on their communities of followers and customers to participate in what they agreed was not an angry protest but rather a way to celebrate diversity. Their shared mission was to provide an example of what it’s like to be size inclusive but to also be inclusive of race, ability and both visible and invisible illness.”
“We were fed up seeing these so-called perfect body images online, with there being just one perceived beautiful body type,” Mac told HuffPost.
Noble goals to be sure. I’m as much for inclusivity as the next guy, but let’s be honest here. I didn't need to see this, nor did these women really need to stand on the street all-but-naked to make this point.
What, exactly, does ability and illness, whether visible or invisible, have to do with the product line or marketing habits of Victoria's Secret in the first place?
I wrote a blog yesterday saying that human beings are programmed to appreciate art and therefore we can’t help but appreciate beauty in a purely aesthetic sense. In this politically correct, everyone-is-beautiful climate, we are perhaps sacrificing a wee bit of honesty with ourselves and others in our efforts to correct the injustices of our fat-phobic society.
I don’t see being overweight and poorly conditioned as a source of pride. Inclusivity is absolutely something to aspire to, ill health is not. Oh, I totally get the beautiful body type thing, I do understand that unattainable images of perfection cause problems and I know that large bodies can be healthy and fit. On the other hand, let’s not pretend that we are comparing apples and apples here. There are people out there who are simply beautiful in a traditional aesthetic sense. They are not flabby or overweight or old. They are works of art and, in my view, there is no crime in acknowledging and appreciating that. The reverse can also be true, and pretending otherwise is not a viable solution. One doesn't need nude photos to demonstrate a beautiful heart, mind and soul.
Victoria’s Secret sexualizes women, no doubt, and they have staunchly resisted the inclusivity movement in their "fantasy" runway shows. No curvy body types or transgender models are employed by them, although they’ve recently been volleying some backlash about that. They sell lingerie designed for sex appeal and they’re successful at it. They’ve taken a hit in recent years, largely due to competition and the growth of the athleisure industry rather than due to the body positivity movement, according to online reports. Notwithstanding, Victoria’s Secret racked up $7.4 billion in world sales last year. Although they don't promote inclusivity on the catwalk, they do produce lingerie in larger sizes. Women are buying their products, presumably women who fit into their sexy lingerie and look incredible in it. We all know how empowering it is to feel radiant, whether we’re clad in jeans, gowns or rose petals.
Back to the protestors. A few of them look great. A couple of them look like typical women. And a couple of them would, quite simply, have had more dignity if they’d kept their clothes on.
This was not the only protest over Victoria’s Secret's lack of inclusivity in recent months. There was another in New York in November, just after the Angels show was taped, arranged by supermodel Robin Langley and backed by a team of known models representing positivity. Featuring all shapes and sizes from voluptuous to statuesque, the protest made a statement with class. Those women are all stunning. Point made.
Read article, The Independent, November 2018
“It’s time Victoria’s Secret recognized the buying power and influence of women of ALL ages, shapes, sizes, and ethnicities,” Robin was quoted as saying. The We're All Angels Show, staged by lingerie retailer Simply Be, featured models from sizes 10 to 22 wearing garments from their AW18 collection.
Some industry experts have expressed the opinion that this year's Victoria's Secret Angels show might just be the last one to feature only tall, slinky models on its runway. The show drew criticism from another direction this year as well, when VP of Public Relations Ed Razek told Vogue in an interview that he didn't think transgenders belonged on their catwalk. Singer Halsey, the headliner at the Angels gala, came out of the gate swinging on social media after filming the event. "As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity. Especially not one motivated by stereotype," she wrote.
Interesting times we live in. Aside from my personal belief that the protest in Oxford Circle was ill-advised, hats off to the seven women who strutted their stuff with passion and grit.