How to Look Like a Victoria’s Secret Angel

    “How to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel” Jezebel’s banner teased. “Not that you can be one. You can’t,” ran the verdict following the hopeful headline.

“What people don’t realize is that they’re rarer by far than superstar athletes,” proclaimed Ed Razek, Limited’s chief marketing officer (they also own VS). “The numbers of people who can do this are probably under 100 in the world.”

After all, angels must be skinny and buxom, but also fit enough looking to believably hold up heavy wings. Hard to do all three at the same time (or even two).

Sometime-angel, Angela Lindvall told the New York Times she jumped rope and ate nothing but spinach, chard and kale to lose 20 pounds, post-pregnancy, to “make weight.” Others hire personal trainers, take many-mile runs, do squats and lunges, and generally “kill ourselves,” as one put it.

The models “kill themselves” for a few months to acquire angel status. Yet the message is that all women can look like them by simply dawning VC bras and panties.

Much of advertising works by making people – in this case women – feel inadequate about how they look – which comes easily when an unachievable ideal is placed before us. But Victoria’s Secret offers a product to help! Really?

The message must be working. Sales are up.

A little VS can add some fun. But don’t stress if you don’t look like an angel. Most of the time, the angels don’t either.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 6, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Christina Gomez

    It’s ridiculous, but after reading this article, I do feel a little better about myself. I am one of those women that sees the Victoria’s Secret ads and feels inadequate. I see these flawless women, with perfect bodies and it makes me feel bad because I don’t look like them. But myself and women everywhere should realize and accept that we don’t have the time, energy and money to diet and train to “make weight.” And we also need to realize that women don’t need to look like an “angel” to feel good about ourselves. The media needs to focus more on selling products with strategies that promote a healthy image of women. Future generations need to have a better image of women in order to feel better about themselves and people around them.

  2. I think the Victorias Secret models look beautiful and put on a really good show. I think its fun and entertaining and am sure a lot of people look foward to it annually. I think it would also be nice if they had a little more variety in their models body shapes since not all consumers are 5’9 and weigh in at about 100 pounds. But I also dont feel they should be picked at for glamming these gals up, of course media has a stong influence, sex and beauty sells, but this is nothing new, its been going on for ages. Victorias Secret is not to blame, they are merely following a trend that seems to work and brings success and sales.

    • Thanks for your comment. Variety would indeed be nice!

      But beauty hasn’t always been construed in the form of the VC model. That impossible ideal was created to sell a lot of products. When women keep buying without ever reaching the ideal, you make a lot of sales.

      VC isn’t solely to blame, but they play a role. Media both reflects and reinforces culture.

      Sex sells, yes. But is selling the most important thing?

      And why is it almost always women’s sex that sells? Why do so few sell men’s sexuality to appeal to women?

  3. Everyone wants to feel special. The problem with modern society is that young girls think that the only way to be attractive to men is to look like a super model. If u pick up a magazine like vogue u will see beautiful women on every page. We are bombarded by these images on a daily bases and it becomes our reality. The truth is more than 99 percent of women are not supermodels yet that is all we see on the T.V. and in magazines. A lot of women get hung up on being a model and don’t realize that men still think they are beautiful. You don’t need to weigh a 100 pounds in order to be attractive. A Nice smile and a good personality go a long way.

  4. Sarai Villarreal

    I think we can’t pin point Victoria’s Secret and say they’re the one’s to blame in making women feel inadequate for the way they look. But nonetheless they are an example of what the media does to send women the message that this is what beautiful is and this is the mold they need to fit. Yes, many of those models are gorgeous, but even they have their insecurities and imperfections. Of course that is what the media doesn’t tell us. The danger here is that all these middle school and high school girls see these models and then look at themselves, and if they don’t see what they see on TV and the magazine adds they feel their bodies are imperfect. They grow up feeling insecure, and some even developing eating disorders. It needs to be taught that skinny doesn’t always equal healthy. The limelight needs to be put on the reality that these models have to go to extreme and unhealthy ways in order to achieve the “Angel” body.

  5. Women are particularly affected by how the media portrays females. Especially vulnerable are teen girls between the ages of 14 and 17. However, no one is immune to the clever manipulation of advertising companies. The advertising industry depicts unrealistic, and most likely unattainable, expectations of how women’s bodies should look and function. This leads to shame and self-image problems. Self-image problems lead to mental and physical health problems such as eating disorders and depression. Not only are the fashion industry magazines, such as Elle and Vogue, guilty of perpetuating unreal expectations on women but so are magazines like Good Housekeeping. In some ways a magazine like Good Housekeeping is even more insidious in its suggestion. Every issue has an article about the perfect marriage, loving children, improved sex, a successful career and a beautiful home. Sounds great except there is a caveat. From the front cover with a thin superstar to the inside pictures and stories women are subliminally urged that they can have all of the things in the articles if they can just lose those last ten or twenty pounds. Oh, and you can do it in time for swimsuit season! That alone is impossible to do healthily if you have more than 5-15 pounds to lose and considering the article appears in the May or June issues. The diet and fashion industry’s marketing goal is to make women feel anxious about their weight and appearance.

    Money is what drives the standard of American beauty, particularly to the Caucasian sector. By promoting ideals that are difficult, if not impossible to attain, the cosmetic and diet industry is assured a profit. The book, The Diet Business: Banking on Failure, offers the statistic of anywhere from 40 to 100 billion US dollars a year spent on weight loss products. And remember that even your gym is banking on people failing at their exercise regime. If everyone who signed the contract were to stick with a program there wouldn’t be room in the gym nor would there be space to recruit new members, which is where the money is made. Gyms that operate on a contract basis are counting on people failing at their health resolutions to boost revenue.




  6. Victoria Secrets models are very beautiful and I have to admit their bodies are something a lot of women envy. Although the diet these models go through of only eating spinach and kale to do a runway is not something I personally would do. I do like the promotion of eating well, exercising daily, and promoting healthy foods is great. Victoria Secrets is empowering the view of a woman’s body. Its ability to turn people’s heads and make woman feel great about themselves is something I think Victoria Secret tries to promote. I remember hearing a comment from my friends grandmother who to this days still gives her family underwear for Christmas, say, “ I may be old and ugly but anyone can feel sexy wearing lingerie”. I think a Victoria Secrets Angel is anyone who feels good wearing lingerie. And okay yes Victoria Secret models don’t look like the average woman and yes they should have more variety of models promoting lingerie, but their product itself is very beautiful and can help someone’ s self-esteem.

    • Yes it can be fun to feel sexy. And eating vegetables is healthy, but you may need to eat more than veggies for health. It’s also possible to overexercise. I know, I’ve done it and been injured.

  7. “Not that you can be one. You can’t.” This quote shows that no matter how we try or diet we should accept ourselves for who we are, after all we aren’t the “angels” modeling these pieces of lingerie. I feel that Victoria’s Secret is a store that portray modern society’s beauty as “stick skinny” with pushed up boobs and a “booty.” Many of these models stress and as you said “kill themselves” to look like a stick that is believed to be beautiful and extravagant. From your blog we can see that these models work hard and suffer a great deal to obtain these tiny little stick bodies, yet they advertise that we can all look like “angels” with their products. Which makes me question and agree with your blog that their bodies are almost impossible to obtain and in society there are many forms of beauty and beauty should be shown from the inside out rather then the skinny bodies in.

  8. I don’t think that VS is trying to say that just by wearing the bra you can look like Alessandra Ambrosio or Miranda Kerr or anything like that. They provide a wide variety of different bra shapes to suit every figure so I think what they’re trying so say is that every woman, of all different body shapes, could be like an angel by wearing something that makes them feel good and empowering. VS models are very empowering because they can juggle looking good, being strong while raising a family at the same time I don’t think they’re trying to send out a negative message by starving yourself to perfection. These models worked hard to get to where they are and if everybody works hard they can be whatever they want. I think everyone could look like an angel if they feel confident about themselves.

    • I hope that you’re right. But research shows that an awful lot of women feel pressured to starve themselves and get surgery to fit a narrow ideal. It would be great if a variety of women’s body types were celebrated for their beauty. How about a little more variety among the Angels?

      • I totally agree that nowadays media is delivering certain messages and values to the general public. Some of them are biased and the standard of beauty is definitely a great example. Many women believe that being skinny mean being pretty and attractive. However, I noticed there are some new magazines are published especially for “fat people” now. These magazines will used “fat” model as their cover page instead of using those skinny models. Will this be the very beginning of the change of the current standard of beauty? Or will this be another hint that underlines our current beauty standard of being skinny?

  9. Without a doubt the media is portraying what beauty is when in reality there is no such thing as to beauty and what it should look like. To be honest when I see these Victoria’s Secret Angels I literally can’t believe that men (and women) find them attractive! All I see is skin and bones. Beauty to me is a woman who has meat on her bones, has curves, and is all natural! The media is really messing with women’s heads and so far they are doing pretty good of it too. Seriously…why would you go to Victoria’s Secret and buy a bra and underwear going on $30.00? You can still look like an “Angel” if you buy bra’s and panties from Macys…what is the difference?? The last time I went to Victoria’s Secret and bought a bra and the stupid thing lasted a week and I had to throw it away.

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