Victoria’s Secret came under fire last week when Angel Candice Swanepoel showed up at a promotional event for the brand looking “shockingly thin”. While it’s no great discovery that a supermodel might be vastly skinnier than everybody else on the planet, the photo comparison of Swanepoel in November versus Swanepoel in April was cause for worry: one showed a woman with (dare I say) curvy hips and thighs and clearly defined abdominal muscles; while the other depicted her as being significantly slimmer than she once was. A vaguely dismissive response was issued: “I’m heartened to know how much everyone cares about me, but in this case, everything is normal and good,” she said. The Cut‘s Amy Odell weighed in, saying, “Like, can you believe she is thin? Can you believe this Victoria’s Secret supermodel would dare to maybe even be a tiny bit thinner than she was a few months ago or perhaps — oh, God, could this be possible — have stayed the same size? Can you believe these two photos of her? Why, they’re — they’re just … so … shocking!!!” And then, like with everything else in fashion, something else occurred that was exciting or scandalous or pretty and everybody forgot all about it.
But then this week Victoria’s Secret signed a new Angel, 18 year old Kate Upton (star of the Youtube clip above), apparently in response to the criticism. Upton is described as “curvaceous,” with a “healthy figure,” and, hopefully, “a return for Victoria’s Secret to its original roster of curvy models that made the brand so famous.”
This time, Amy Odell had something a little more serious to say: “So yay for Kate Upton, who may represent a healthier, more attainable body type than many of her colleagues, but who may also have her fellow models in a quandary about how they should look if their current figures are no longer the ideal. For famous women, there is seldom a right weight.”
And I reckon that final sentence is about the best thing I’ve ever read about the problem of putting so much emphasis on ‘ideal’ body types. Whatever is in vogue at any particular point of time will alienate a giant chunk of the population at large (no pun intended). So what’s the solution? Selecting models based on good personalities? Or encouraging designers to showcase their clothes on a myriad different sized women?
Call me a pessimist but I’m of the Anja Rubik school of thought: “I don’t think it will ever change because… There are too many girls who would do the job if you don’t do it, so I don’t think it’s possible to unite all of the girls say, ‘No, we want this and these conditions.’ I think that’s crazy, It’ll never happen. I think it’s mission impossible.”
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