beauty

"There's something different about this Victoria's Secret photo shoot. But I'm not cheering."

Lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret has this week released behind the scenes photographs of 25-year-old Jasmine Tookes, modelling the famous $3 million Fantasy Bra.

She is only the third black woman in almost 40 years to model the diamond-encrusted lingerie, which is the first indication that Victoria’s Secret’s marketing strategy might just be a few decades behind.

But it’s not the colour of Tookes’ skin that has everyone talking.

In many ways the images are consistent with the brand’s ethos. She is tall, thin, has long, wavy hair, with perfectly proportioned breasts and hips.

Jasmine Tooke. Image via Getty.

But there is one "unprecedented" shot that is said to offer "a touch of reality."

According to Buzzfeed the 'unretouched' image ought to "give us hope."

If you thought Mia Freedman's stomach rolls were confronting, brace yourself for this. 

Image via Getty.

Wait...what?

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Image via Getty.

Huh?

Still squinting? Trying to zoom?

Image via Getty.

Apparently, Tookes has stretch marks on her hips, and Victoria's Secret has empowered all women everywhere by deciding not to edit them out.

Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall for five minutes.

Okay - back.

The Daily Mail has labelled the image "au naturel", and Today are celebrating that "even Angels are human".

But...are we looking at the same picture? If this image is meant to "give us hope", then how desperate must women be? Must we celebrate every time we're thrown a bone by the very establishment that has perpetuated and profited off our self-loathing in the first place?

Holly Wainwright, Mia Freedman and I discuss Tookes' alleged stretchmarks on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below. 

Victoria's Secret angels are simply the Barbie dolls of adulthood. They continue to assert a narrowly-defined and completely outdated notion of what constitutes beauty.

Unfortunately, a few invisible stretch marks aren't going to undo four decades worth of damage.

I do not feel empowered or validated by looking at an image of a woman in $3 million underwear posing in front of a guy with a camera. Stretch marks or not.

If this is what a "real woman" looks like in 2016, then I must be a goddamn monster.

Welcome to my crib ???? @voguemagazine #VSFantasyBra #VSFashionShow

A video posted by Jasmine Tookes (@jastookes) on

In fairness, stretch marks are better than no stretch marks. Most women have them. I suppose it's a step forward (or maybe more of a reluctant shuffle) for America's largest lingerie manufacturer, who are renowned for heavily photo shopping all their models.

But the campaign is no less objectifying.

Perhaps in the Victoria's Secret utopia, stretch marks are permissible when you tick the other 400 boxes for physical perfection. And when they're discretely confined to a very small part of your body. And in the right lighting, of course. Positioned just beneath sexy underwear that cost more than what I'll earn in an entire lifetime. Yes. In those circumstances Victoria's Secret is prepared to let stretch marks slide.

If we're looking to Victoria's Secret for 'empowerment' or 'body positivity', then I'm afraid we're going to be left very disappointed.

Let's stop cheering for the pitiful baby steps. Because it detracts from the conversation we ought to be having:

The real power comes from knowing we are not our bodies.

We are far, far more than that.

You can listen to the whole episode of this week's Mamamia Out Loud, here.