Rather be a Victoria’s Secret Angel or You?

  1. L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade Culinary EventPlayboy wanted to know how average-looking Lena Dunham, the award-winning producer, director, writer and star of HBO’s Girls, would feel if she woke up in the body of a Victoria’s Secret Angel.

Not so great, said Dunham, who frequently appeared nude on her show.

I don’t think I’d like it very much. There would be all kinds of weird challenges to deal with that I don’t have to deal with now. I don’t want to go through life wondering if people are talking to me because I have a big rack. Not being the babest person in the world creates a nice barrier. The people who talk to you are the people who are interested in you. It must be a big burden in some ways to look that way and be in public.

Looking like a Victoria’s Secret Angel instead of me. I can see the upside. Women are hugely judged by their looks so in an Angel-body I’d land at the top of the pack. How nice. And I could have any guy.

But studies show a downside. Plain women are more likely to get a job interview, for instance. Maybe they seem less sex objecty and more brainy. The beautiful are also believed to be more conforming and self-promoting.

Or, therapist, Mary Pipher wrote in her bestselling Reviving Ophelia that,

Girls who are too attractive are seen primarily as sex objects. Their appearance overdetermines their identity. They know that boys like to be seen with them, but they doubt that they are liked for reasons other than their packaging.

Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor who studies men, says some guys are more interested in bragging to other guys that they nailed a beautiful girl than in having sex with her. Other guys entirely miss seeing the girl because they’re obsessed with her body.

And then there’s this: A lot of guys thought Dunham’s response was B.S. But in a Slate comment thread one woman wrote,

You think you’d be happier if you were better-looking, but would you feel the same way if you were in prison? You don’t associate being attractive with any sort of threat, but for women it can be.

On a more mundane note, it’d also take a lot of time, work, starvation and calorie-counting to keep up that body when you could be doing other stuff. Healthy is good, “perfect” takes too much time and surgery.

Related Posts 
How to Look Like a Victoria’s Secret Angel
Celebs Less Weight-Conscious
Believe You’re Beautiful – Others Will, Too

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 December 3, 2018, in body image and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. tanza erlambang

    I love with this question:” You think you’d be happier if you were better-looking, but would you feel the same way if you were in prison?”

    have a great day

  2. At this point in life i am happy with my body, after a few years of trying to go back to my ideal weight, before having children i finally realize that our body changes through out the years . i don’t consider my self  fat i see my self more thick and curvy, i don’t mind this new body, however i do prefer to be slim, like when i was in High school. I believe it will be difficult to adapt to a new body specially like the Victoria Secret Angels that are thin and tall,  i admire their bodies it requires discipline, hard work and special diets, specially to those who have children and return back to modeling and still are in good shape,  i defiantly don’t think that having good looks will me happier, their is more to life then a perfect body and good looks. I chose a healthy life.

  3. I agree with Lena Dunhan I would not want to wake up in the body of a Victoria Secret model body I have read articles about how much preparation the models have to go through. The insane diets, and workout plans those things would all take an insane amount of self discipline. Even after all that preparation it is not guaranteed that they will be given a spot on that runway. Going through all that hard work just to put on a pair if wings might seem like a dream come through to others but it is not ideal for me. Not only that but everyone would be constantly judging and criticizing your body. Beauty should not be seen as a negative thing after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder and people should not be judged simply because they are above average.

  4. The question posed here is that ‘would you want to wake up as a Victoria secret model or yourself? and it is safe to say that many women would prefer to wake up as themselves because as a women who is very physically attractive, many people disregard them as a women, but rather as a sex object. Although beauty is a gift many males regard it as a sex appeal for their sake. The reason for this mentality men have is that throughout the course civilization and the structure of society, women’s role in society was often to stay home and look good for their husbands. Women throughout the course of history have been degraded lower than a human being and onto being a sex appeal to their husbands and when the time came where their lost their beauty, their husbands just left them, leaving them alone and in distraught and in confusion. This is better resembles the story La Lorna, a myth where there was once a girl who was the most beautiful in her village, but came from a very poor family, and one day a son of a noble came and saw her majestic beauty and instantly married her. They then had 2 twins, but the son didn’t inform his parents about the secret marriage and so she had to live alone while her husband was away with his parents. Over time La Lorna lost her beauty from old age and raising her kids, and when her husband returned, his love faded and he then married another younger girl, leaving La Lorna by herself, and finally when walking by the river with her twins, she saw her ex-husband and became so furious with the sight of him that she threw her kids in the water, and immediately out of guilt and realization of what she had done, she had jumped in the river to go and save them,and to this day she is still trying to find her kids. This story shows evident that even in early Mexican culture they already had adopted this perception of women into their everyday lives and women were forced into this society without any say. The story also shows the psychological pain women go through when constantly judged and seen by their beauty, not themselves. And so going back to the question whether a women should wake up as themselves, or a supermodel, the safe and logical answer should be themselves because only then can they truly be appreciated for who they are.

  5. In regards to either being myself or a victoria’s secret model, I would want to be myself. I remember watching the interviews and how women had struggled prepping for the actual show and everything for it. The diet, the workout regimen and how they expect the body types to be all the same is actually insane. Not everyone is built that skinny or pretty or anything like that. The actual way of being stared at seen as someone as a sex object and not as a person makes me uncomfortable. I would actually be so scared and ashamed of myself if something went south. The idea that I know I get judged already but also the idea that its not just silent, its made for everyone to see and hear on social media makes it worse. The type of hate and strength it takes to be seen for that is something I do applaud because it takes a certain type of person to go through multiple levels of humility for it.

  6. I agree with Dunham, in that at my age, I wouldn’t want to wake up with an Angel’s body. Back in the day (25ish years), I did and it had its struggles. I was in the restaurant business and not in the cush front of house, in the back, cooking. It was definetly harder to be taken serious, to have people think you were trainable or smart. I felt I had to work harder, take less breaks, work more hours/days and basically outdo everyone to advance. It worked, but I always heard snide comments. It isn’t that way for women where I work now. It has to do with management and how well they support their people. Back to the story, it would also be a challenge if you were going for a job interview and you intimidated or made your interviewer insecure. I’ve seen people get passed up because the interviewer thought the young woman wouldn’t work hard because she was so good looking. As Dunham also stated, it probably takes an insane amount of discipline to eat super healthy and diet all the time, as well as exercise all the time. I would not be living my best life possible if I was essentially starving myself. I do love exercising, when I have time, but lately, time is limited. I also think that when you have a fulfilling career, hobbies, interests and healthy/happy relationships with the people around you, looks aren’t as important.

  7. I have been told many times that I should be a model because I have a slim figure and long legs. I have seen the models that walk the runway for Victoria’s Secret and in the moment their bodies do look good because of the clothes or rather fabrics that they are wearing compliments their body type. For me, I do not like wearing tight clothes or shorts because it shows how slim my legs are and that has always been one of my biggest insecurities. My insecurity has caused me to get a gym membership for the sole purpose of working out my legs and hopefully making them “bigger” with muscle so I can finally wear skinny jeans and feel comfortable in them and not feel insecure about what people may be thinking about the way I look. Having an “angel” body does come with downfalls as mentioned, men seek women out for their body and not for who they are and many times could care less about who the “angel” really is as a person but instead are more focused on what they look like.

  8. Personally, I also wouldn’t want to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel but for different reasons. I think no matter how I look, I would still be unsatisfied since no matter what body I have. There will always be someone criticizing it, or I’ll find some flaw to focus on and try to change. Rather than waking up in a “beautiful body”, waking up with a clear mindset that isn’t poisoned by beauty standards and just loves your body for existing. Maybe even waking up to a world that views beauty as something that everyone can have or a world that doesn’t base worth on beauty. It’s honestly a two sided sword for appearances, if you’re ugly or average, you should feel lucky that you aren’t catcalled or objectified, but they should still strived towards beauty. If you’re beautiful, amazing, you get many benefits but also you can be catcalled and people feel entitled to harass you.

  9. Eli Harrison Pritchard

    I find the reaction to Dunham’s answer strange because even if she said yes that’s weird answer. Saying that I would love to wake up in model’s body reads more like a public admission low self-esteem. Dunham is also making a good point as to why she doesn’t want to, it just presents another complication in day to day life. One thing I find strange about the question is that it presents a hypothetical that kind of already happens in real life. There are plenty of people who spend a large amount of time chasing the societal ideal and will structure a portion of their live after it. If Dunham wanted to chase that ideal and try to look like a model wouldn’t she already be doing that. To me the question itself is very awkward because most will openly say no since the other option appears very self-loathing. Then we have the element of that looking like a model simply places a burden of unwanted attention, or another threat for a woman. There is a greater more depressing notion at play here that being attractive as a woman is akin to being in a prison.

    • I saw a documentary on supermodels and was surprised to learn that they are among the most self-loathing. Their bodies are constantly being picked apart because they aren’t completely perfect. And then there’s the risk that the body focus can make us one dimensional

  10. This has always been a topic that interests me due to how touchy of a topic it oddly can be. It’s difficult as a woman to talk and debate about the benefits/detriments attractiveness plays in one’s life without the accompaniment of quite a few eye rolls.
    There’s, of course, a trade off for each. If you choose to play into society’s expectations of how a woman should look, you may be rewarded with preferential treatment from society and in the workplace, but you may also be subjecting yourself susceptible to the harassment that all too often accompanies it (not to excuse harassment in any way, just stating from observation that there’s a definite correlation between the two). However, if someone wishes to put in the extra hours of primping and taking care of their health and subsequent figure, I believe they shouldn’t be judged for doing so.
    In my opinion, one would be much better off putting the amount of time expended into perfecting one’s looks into furthering one’s education, but of course, that is just my opinion and we are all subject to our own opinions.

    • Good points. But we put so much pressure on women to be beautiful — to the point that women can end up being one dimensional — that a lot of us don’t consider the downside.

  11. As someone who considers herself to be average looking and has had to deal with quite a few uncomfortable scenarios while out regarding being approached by men, I can only imagine how often uncomfortable scenarios like that must happen for women who are as beautiful as Victoria’s Secret models. I can only imagine that they have to be more aware of their surroundings even more so. Also, I think it would be difficult to break away from the pretty girl image and be noticed and recognized for something you are truly good at and passionate about when you are physically attractive on that sort of level. I think girls often assume that the prettier one is, the easier you have it and while this may be true in some sense, there are also a number of negatives that come along with it.

  12. I have a weird reaction to this post as a whole. I think that question is borderline insulting? Also, I personally find Lena Dunham way more attractive than most Victoria’s secret models. This whole thing is predicated on the idea that conventional attraction the best kind there is. I think this problematic thinking and I’m really happy Lena responded the way she did.

    I was saddened by “You think you’d be happier if you were better-looking, but would you feel the same way if you were in prison? You don’t associate being attractive with any sort of threat, but for women it can be.” What a sad tightrope to have to walk. Wanting to be beautiful because society says that is all you’re worth, but not too beautiful because society will also say you were asking for it if you’re so beautiful you get attacked. I had never actually considered that being attractive could be considered a physical threat by women. As I read it it made perfect sense, but I am saddened by the reality of it.

    • Yeah, Women are in a difficult double-blind, and on a different different angles:

      Be beautiful. But don’t be vain (or appear to be)
      Be beautiful. But not too beautiful — very beautiful women are slut-shamed more than other women
      Don’t be too beautiful, but don’t be to homely either

      Where is the perfect fit that society accepts?

      The only positive that it can teach us to stop worrying about what other people think. But that is difficult since humans are hardwired to need other people.

  13. Victoria’s Secret apparently isn’t doing very well and is likely to be closing stores. That should tell you something.

  14. We are all given gifts, some given strength, some wisdom, some beauty, etc. The point isn’t the gift that one has been given; but, how they use that gift. Since this topic is beauty, I will use Brigitte Bardot as an example. Arguably the most beautiful person on the planet. She used that beauty by meeting with world leaders on behalf of animal rights. Had she just been ordinary looking, I doubt so many world leaders would have made time to talk to her about animal rights. It is never the gift, but how the gift is used.

    • Bridgette Bardot used her beauty well. But some make an idol of it and get distracted from more important things.

    • I…I think this is incredibly reductive of Brigitte Bardot. This post accredits her success to her beauty. It may or may not have been a factor, but to say “I doubt so many world leaders would have made time to talk to her about animal rights.” discredits the passion this women must have felt to even get in a room and talk to world leaders. This argument is never made about men. No one is like, Martin Luther King Jr. only made a big impact because he was good looking. Obama is seen as an incredibly attractive man, but no one says he likely would have lost were he not. I’m not saying that beauty didn’t play a factor in these things, but I do think it’s also telling that we are so quick to diminish the hard work and passion behind a woman’s success, and give credit to how beautiful she is. What does that say to all of the “ordinary” women? You could have done more if you were beautiful? That seems frighteningly close to the narrative that led to the reporter even asking Dunham if she’d want to have the body of a Victoria’s secret model in the first place.

      At it’s heart, I get what you’re saying. Beauty is a resource, to be used for good or bad. I do think that it’s often only seen as a resource when we are talking about women though. When a good looking man is successful he is charming, a trait that takes a level or social grace and intelligence. Women are beautiful, something that takes no intelligence..they just have to sit and look pretty. I think this is a dangerous line of thought.

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