Victoria’s Secret Angels… or Devils?: How the VSFS Causes Eating Disorders

Every year when our bathing suits are tucked far away in the back of our closets, and we have indulged in a little too many treats, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show airs. Women and men watch in awe as models, referred to as angels, strut down the runway in next to nothing, displaying the lingerie line but more importantly their outstanding and so called perfect bodies. A stream of thoughts immediately rushes through the viewer’s mind: put down the ice cream, I’m never eating again, my diet starts tomorrow (click for a good laugh), and so forth.

These thoughts may start off innocent but can escalate over time and turn into an obsession. Young girls and women begin to start focusing solely on loosing weight in order to imitate what they see on the runway. This is how eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia form.

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What’s scary is that girls of younger ages are beginning to feel the pressure of society to be thin. Sarah Murnen, body-image researcher, has done studies that indicate that girls as young as first grade believe that they should model themselves after beautiful and sexy celebrities. Eating disorder experts are concerned that the modeling industry has gone too far in pushing a dangerously thin image that women, and even very young girls, may try to emulate. Why is it that girls are being affected at a younger age? This is due to the abundance of models, that represent the “thin ideal” found on every magazine cover, television show, and fashion runway.

“The sexiest night on television,” also known as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is one of the most looked forward to nights of the year. Crazy right? But it is true. Women throw parties amongst their friends so that they can watch together, as the spectacular unfolds. However the excitement each year turns to dissatisfaction quickly. Not dissatisfaction with the show but rather with their bodies.

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The Victoria’s Secret Angels are forced to live an unhealthy life style, consisting of extreme diets and high amounts of exercise, in order to look the way they do on the runway. Angel, Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, told Vogue “The final decision is made by the whole team, sitting at this long table in a room with really harsh lighting, and its incredibly nerve-wrecking.”  This pressure to initially be chosen, and then walk the runway in lingerie in front of the entire nation, causes these women, who are already extremely thin, to drop even more weight.

Former Victoria’s Secret Model Kylie Bisutti, exposes the pressures she felt while modeling. In her book “I’m No Angel” she explains her story and why she left the industry. One of the reasons being, it forced her to live an unhealthy life style and promoted her fans to do the same. One particularly disturbing story she tells is of an encounter with her agent:

“Why am I doing another test shoot when everyone else is going out on castings for Fashion Week?”

“Do you really want to know, Kylie?” She sounded exasperated. “It’s because you are a fat pig right now. You are a cow, and I don’t want any of our clients to see you this way!”

I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut.

Before I could catch my breath to respond, she continued, “Your thighs are too big. Your butt is too big. You’re just . . . big!” (Bisutti).

Kylie was a size two at the time. This made Kylie start to see “fat” in places she hadn’t noticed before, and Kylie admits to harming her health in order to drop the weight.

The unhealthy life style of these models is then extended to their viewers, who want to look just like the “perfect” Angels. This year the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show drew 9.71 million viewers, which made it the top-rated telecast among young adults.  That is 9.71 million people who have been exposed to the unhealthy “thin ideal” that this fashion show promotes.

Victorias Secret Fashion Podcast

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