7 times the Victoria's Secret models showed they were empowering for females
Hailed as ‘the Super Bowl of fashion’, the Victoria’s Secret show gives us our annual dose of girl power. As beautiful women strut down a catwalk in jewel-studded lingerie and breathtaking winged creations, it’s a spectacular display of confidence, and an even more impressive show of abs. Nevertheless, whilst we’re all there, one eye glued to the screen, the other on each Angel’s Instagram profile, it’s not hard to see why the show has come under some criticism.
At the most basic level we have a group of ‘conventionally’ beautiful women walking around in their underwear. Skinny, tall and toned, they’re the kind of girls who we’re continually led to believe are ‘perfect’ by magazines, billboards and TV. And when you’re watching them in your comfy pjs with a packet of crisps, it cuts quite the contrast to the everyday female form.
We know this isn’t a representation of the normal female body. We know this is a tough, strict and painful process of self-restraint, control, discipline and denial. We know this is their job and just like if you work and push yourself at anything in life, you’ll eventually achieve what you want. Whether that be working your ass off to get that promotion, learning a new skill or getting the perfect body – it doesn’t matter. The point is, they set their mind to something and did it and there’s something amazing about seeing women at the height of their careers, having fun and loving what they do.
This show isn’t about the objectification and sexualisation of the female body for the enjoyment of others. It’s about celebrating being a woman, working hard for what you want and encouraging other girls to do the same. It’s a high-ten celebration of female unity. And a little bit about selling underwear.
Here are seven times the Victoria’s Secret models kicked ass and showed they were empowering to us females around the world.
When Liu Wen became the first Asian model on the VS catwalk
Up until 2009 there hadn’t been a single Asian model in the VS fashion show, so when Chinese model Liu Wen became the first, she hit headlines everywhere. The brand have previously been criticised for their lack of racial diversity and this was the first step towards changing that.
The following year, she set a similar record with Esteé Lauder, becoming the first Asian model to land a cosmetics campaign.
Fast forward to 2017 and this year’s show is set to be the most racially diverse ever, with almost half of the models being black, asian or hispanic, which is up from last year’s 30%. Seeing as Victoria’s Secret customers are from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, it’s important that the runway is reflecting its consumers, and this is significant step forward.
The VS models are renowned for their long and perfectly shiny beach waves, so when Maria Borges stepped out with her natural hair instead of extensions in 2015, it was a poignant moment to say the least.
Posting on her Instagram, she said ‘At this moment precisely, I was looking up to God. I was thanking Him for making my 3rd Victoria’s Secret appearance a moment that would help women around the world to embrace their natural beauty!’.
She made history, being the first VS model to show off her short hair au naturale. Since then, the brand have taken a more carefree approach to the hairstyling, allowing other models with short hair to ditch the hair pieces and extensions and embrace their natural locks instead.
When Lily and Taylor showed us ultimate friendship goals
Girl power friendships are at the heart of every Victoria’s Secret model. Take the time that Lily Aldridge strutted down the catwalk hand in hand with Taylor Swift in 2013, when she performed ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’. Then again in 2014 to ‘Blank Space’.
But it’s not just on the catwalk that we’re feeling the love. Take a glance at Lily’s instagram and you can see the love towards all of her fellow models, from screenshots of Gigi Hadid on the front of Vogue, which she’s annotated with hearts, to ‘Best friends forever’ polaroids of her pals post-show, and of course, a little love towards Taylor with a recent post saying how proud she was of her new album.
Then there’s Gigi who gushed over little sister Bella joining the catwalk on social media. Wherever we look, there’s no jealousy, just love and celebration for their female friends’ achievements and successes.
When we see they’re real – mishaps, slip-ups and all
The catwalk is by far the main event, but one of the best parts of the show is seeing the little backstage snippets mashed into the show footage. Those wings aren’t light, and we get to see the models ducking clumsily into the backstage area and rocking out to the music before they’re next due on the catwalk.
It looks like a well-oiled machine, but as Candice Swanepoel explained, she once had to tie shoes that were too big for her on with bra strap.
Lindsay Ellingson also managed to completely own the catwalk in 2011, despite ripping her skin-tight red catsuit moments before she was due to walk. Luckily the staff made a quick fix and she went out proudly and confidently, and did her job, despite the arm also ripping.
How nice it is to see women having fun out there! We’re so used to serious and rigid high-fashion catwalks that there’s something super empowering about seeing women able to freely express their personalities and enjoy what they do.
Although we may not all be effortless performers like Alessandra Ambrosio, they’re a great source of inspiration when we try and mimic our own catwalk entrance in our bedroom doorways. They’ll dance along to the music and won’t take themselves too seriously.
It’s confidence in its most beautiful form and it makes us smile along with them, inspiring us to be a little more carefree too.
The time Alessandra and Adriana both came out wearing the fantasy bra
They’ve been friends since starting out as fresh-faced teenagers and have been walking the Victoria’s Secret show together since 2000. So when they both came out wearing the coveted million-dollar fantasy bras, people were all like ‘WOAH’. Seeing as it costs more money than we could ever imagine, it’s usually down to one Angel to wear the fantasy bra, but this pair have earned their place as two of the most iconic Angels, and seeing them break convention together was a spine-tingling moment for all.
Seeing them up there together showed us that it’s totally possible to work with your friends and work hard to both fulfill your dreams in life. And who knows, maybe they couldn’t have made it this far without the other to spur them on.
The rigorous exercise routine that the VS models have to go through is no secret. They train all year long, and in the two-month lead up to the show, some even ramp it up to two workouts per day. Each model has their own ‘thing’. For Gigi Hadid, it’s ballet, for Sara Sampaio and Karlie Kloss, it’s pilates, but whatever they choose, it’s still a challenge.
The great thing is, anyone could do this if they put their mind to it. And whether the models inspire you to go to the gym or put your mind and determination to something else in life, the message they give out is the same. Work hard and it’ll pay off.