wellness

Five disturbing stories to keep in mind while watching the Victoria's Secret show.

The 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is upon us once again, but before you watch the the telecast or deep dive into the runway images filling up your Instagram feed you need a quick and timely reality check.

The annual Victoria’s Secret show is pretty much the most famous fashion catwalk of all. Where the world’s top models, known as “angels”, show off the new lines of lingerie while a superstar musician bangs out some poppy tunes and the front row is packed with celebrity faces.

The other thing that always happens each year like clockwork, with the same regularity as people fighting over whether or not Love Actually is actually a good Christmas movie, is that women take in these photos and videos and immediately start to feel bad about their own bodies.

Phrases such as “well, I’m never eating again” and “I’m off to spend the next three days at the gym” are regularly posted across my social media feeds by friends and women I follow. It seems to send them, and so many others into an uncomfortable, and dangerous body image spiral.

I’m not telling you not to watch the show or trawl through the images if you’re really just looking to enjoy the crazy costumes or the theatrics of the show. I’m asking you to be mindful that the journey these models went on to walk about in the bodies you are seeing on screen was at times painful, unhealthy and incredibly damaging.

So, here are five disturbing stories to keep in mind while watching the Victoria’s Secret show.

1. The pressure to lose weight can lead to depression.

Former Victoria’s Secret model Erin Heatherton said she stopped working with the brand in 2013 because after being with them for four years, the pressure to lose weight was having a very damaging effect on her. “My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,” she told Time Magazine at the time. “I look back like, ‘Really?’ I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me. And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.”

2. Some models stop eating completely more than a week before they film the show. 

After giving birth to her first child in September, supermodel Adriana Lima detailed how she prepared for the Victoria’s Secret show in an interview with Grazia. She said she worked out twice a day and then nine days before the show she would only drink protein shakes and consume no food. Then two days before the show, she said she decreased her intake of liquids (including water) to prevent water retention and from 12 hours before the show, she fasts entirely. That means she eats and drinks nothing at all.

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3. The models themselves often don’t realise how unhealthy they are until they leave that world behind.

Bridget Malcolm, who walked in the 2015 and 2016 Victoria’s Secret show penned a blog post apologising to followers who had seen any of her previous social media posts in which she talked about her workout practices or promoted her “healthy balanced diet”. “I now know that I was completely in the depths of body dysmorphia and it really worries me that I was not a positive role model out there,” she wrote.

Listen to Robyn Lawley tell Mia Freedman why we should boycott the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on No Filter. 

4. Some of the models hate the low calorie eating plans they have to follow, calling them “stressful”.

Alessandra Ambrosio famously walked in the Victoria’s Secret show in 2008, just three months after giving birth to her daughter but she has often talked about how restrictive and difficult the preparation is. “I was on this 1200-calorie-a-day meal-delivery service that I hated. I couldn’t do that again. It’s so stressful before the Victoria’s Secret show. There’s so much pressure on us all – not just in terms of shape – and the energy gets sucked out of you,” she told The Edit.

5. They can sometimes be mocked about their weight and drop down to an unhealthy size.

In her book I’m No Angel: From Victoria’s Secret Model to Role Model, Kylie Bisutti detailed the path she followed to make it to the top.

“I pretty much restricted my diet to oatmeal, fruits and vegetables to meet runway expectations,” she wrote. “I’m 5-foot-10, and I got down to 115 pounds with measurements of 34-24-34. In February 2007, New York Fashion Week was approaching, and while everyone I knew was being sent out to auditions, I wasn’t.

“Why am I still going on test shoots?” Bisutti asked her agent.

“It’s because you look like a fat cow right now, Kylie,” he told her. “You need to lose two inches off of your hips.”

She said that after cutting her diet down even further to just pineapples, watermelon and litres of water while exercising two hours a day, six days a week, she finally dropped down to 108 pounds, which satisfied her agent and the gigs started rolling in.

What are your thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

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