Beauty Redefined Blog

Victoria’s Dirty Little Secret


You’ve probably heard VS rolled out a line of lingerie for teens called “Bright Young Things.”As part of the PINK 
brand for all the teenaged “things” across the world, these undies feature polka-dot hipsters with “Feeling Lucky?” printed on them, a lacey thong with the words, “I dare you” on the front, and so much more. This isn’t some conservative “too sexy, too soon!” cry. This is doctoral research into Victoria’s Secret — a company that profits by selling sexually objectifying and limiting messages to all ages and claiming it is “empowering.” This may give words to the feelings you’ve been having about how harmful this brand is, so read on. And don’t forget to read our latest post on VS published in time for the December 2013 “fashion show!”

Some of you may be thinking, “But VS just came out with a statement claiming they never targeted young girls – this is a line for college-aged women!” And I would say “Yes, they did just make that claim because of massive upheaval among parents and news organizations. But let’s look at the facts: The “Bright Young Things” models and others in the PINK line reflect the less curvaceous young girl-like bodies NOT typical of VS in any way. Justin Bieber was the headliner at VS’s “fashion” show – he’s a tween’s dream. The CFO of VS said what anyone who sees their marketing can guess – they are targeting young teens while not claiming it publicly. Of course VS is marketing to young girls! But that’s to be expected. VS isn’t going anywhere, and neither are those that will back VS til the day they die. It’s pointless and emotionally draining to fight them. Instead, we use media literacy to educate people on an individual level about the marketing tactics of these companies and why it encourages feelings of shame in girls and women of all ages and backgrounds who see that they could never meet the ideals presented. When their marketing isn’t instilling feelings of shame, it encourages girls who feel they could fit the ideal with the right products to buy those products and emphasize those parts. Either way, it diminishes the power of girls and women who have SO MUCH more to do and be than be looked at.” Now keep reading!

In the US and now across the world, a multi-billion-dollar corporation has been fighting a tough battle for “female empowerment” since 1963, and based on their crazy success, women appear to be quite literally buying what this company is selling. Holding tight to a mission statement that stands first and foremost to “empower women,” and a slogan stating the brand is one to “Inspire, Empower and Indulge,” the company “helps customers to feel sexy, bold and powerful.”  This is accomplished by mailing hundreds of millions of catalogs to homes each year, constant TV commercials all hours of the day, a CBS primetime show viewed by 100 million, and 1,500 mall storefront displays in the U.S. alone.  And to the tune of $5 billion every year, women are buying into the “empowerment” sold by Victoria’s Secret, the US’s No. 1 lingerie retailer. “Our main appeal is for women. We are not for men to look at but for women to feel good about themselves,” their spokesperson said in the late ‘90s. Hmmmm…. Let’s investigate this!

Friends, Beauty Redefined stands behind a solid truth: You are capable of much more than being looked at. And when the most powerful companies in the world profit off of teaching you that your body – specifically your enhanced, bound, lotioned, glittered, posed, surgically and digitally altered parts of your body – are your only source of “empowerment,” they are lying to you. When you find out the truth about your body, you learn the truth about your power, your beauty, and where your happiness can be found.  Lindsay and I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in media studies and body image and are now wrapping up our Ph.D.s in 2013 – and I have spent so much time buried in research on Victoria’s Secret.

The Summer 2012 VS catalog with our reminders that “there is more to be than eye candy” and “you are capable of much more than being looked at”!

In November 2011, I went to New Orleans to present this research at a huge national conference where I won “top paper” in the Feminism and Women’s Studies Division! So why not share this with you too?! Right now I invite you to go on this journey with me – I’ll give you the fast forwarded version – and you’ll move from angry to motivated, too. Promise!

Victoria’s Dirty Little Secret: She Got an Extreme Makeover!

From VS’s birth in 1963 as a place for men to buy lingerie for their wives in a classical, comfortable setting to a now women-only club, VS has undergone an extreme makeover.  From working women shopping the pastel-painted stores for European-inspired lingerie to lacquered black stores with sky-high photos of unclothed models, pounding music pumping and seductively posed mannequins, this was a makeover of the most radical kind. Back in the day, VS executives were quoted saying, “We represent beauty and artwork. We’re not as explicit or cheesy as Frederick’s of Hollywood,” which is a sneaky way of presenting themselves as “safe” and non-pornographic in an artistic sort of way. The ONLY scholarly analysis of VS’s ads took place in the late ’90s, when feminist scholar Jane Juffer claimed the company was distributing pornography into homes, doctor’s offices, and mall storefronts all while claiming to be selling “decorous products in a Victorian manner.” While she stated no models were featured in beds or bedrooms so as to not appear overtly pornographic, today’s models are sprawled across bear-skin rugs in centerfold spreads, posed on beds wearing panties with buttocks’ jutted in the air and fingers in their mouths, and lying down with only bottoms on, tugging at their hair, reflective of pornography. Besides the obvious employment of digital and surgical enhancement as a new industry standard unknown in the ‘90s, the current “Angels” are oiled up, with long, flowing hair, heavy makeup, decadent jewelry, and sky-high platform heels. Victoria’s Secret has now made a great name for itself as some of the most extreme Photoshoppers of all time. Models limbs tend to go missing quite often, as the spaces in between their thighs suddenly widen more than a living person can handle. 

VS’s mission statement stating a driving force to “empower women” and help women “feel sexy, bold, and powerful” is paired alongside thongs on digitally altered pornographically posed bodies in unquestioned ways on our coffee tables, TV sets, and storefront windows. In October 2012, Victoria’s Secret opened  one of its “PINK” store in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas — the first time the company has opened a store at a professional sports venue.  Remember, their “main appeal is for women. We are not for men to look at but for women to feel good about themselves.” And while the PINK line at VS is “technically” for college girls, a VS executive claimed it’s actually designing for a younger audience in mind. “When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?” Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer said at a conference. “They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at Pink.” Hmmmm….that logic inexplicably tells us the “Bright Young Things” line for teens is most definitely a line for tweens AND YOUNGER.

Today, normalized pornography like that in VS’s advertisements, catalogs, and “fashion shows,” seeks to “empower” us by convincing us that unlike sexist media in the past that objectifies women against their will, this stuff is “just for us” now and has nothing to do with men. While men are never spoken about in text or featured in the images, the willful objectification of women posing for women is presented not as a way to seek men’s approval, but as pleasing ourselves, and in doing that, we  might “just happen” to win men’s (or women’s) gazing admiration. Want a few examples? In the 2010 Christmas Dreams catalog, women have the opportunity to buy panties with sayings, like Page 32’s “ALL NIGHT SHOW” and “Unwrap Me” thongs. If these photos and the lingerie itself is “for women to feel good about themselves and not for men to look at,” who do they expect to read these slogans behind the women?  On Page 32, a full-page photo of a model wearing a thong and push-up bra states “There’s just 2 things I want for Christmas: The ‘Miraculous’ instantly adds 2 sizes.” “Sexy, bold, power” means big breasts are key to our power, happiness, worth, and have nothing at all do with people looking at us.

You see, where once sexualized images of women in media presented us as passive, mute objects of an assumed “male gaze,” today we are presented as active, desiring sexual subjects who choose to present ourselves in an objectified manner because it suits our “liberated” feminist interests to do so.  I argue VS advertising adds a further layer of truly harmful oppression. The brand’s official slogan is “We are redefining what it means to be sought-after,” and in this regard, the company is NOT exaggerating.  Not only are women objectified as they have been, but through sexual objectification, we must also now understand our own posed, enhanced, bound, sexualized, bodies as pleasurable and self-chosen.  Plus, the Limited Too, a retail chain owned by Limited Brands (same company that owns VS) that targets girls ages 7 on up sells “sexy lingerie” such as camisoles and lacy panties – including thongs – in what can only be seen as a move to prepare their girl customers to buy Victoria’s Secret lingerie as soon as they are able to do so. On top of that, now their “Bright Young Things” collection outrightly sexualizes the youngest of females in appalling ways. Thanks, VS! 

The time-wasting, body-hating self-objectification proved to go hand-in-hand with such “bold, sexy, powerful” ideals – though ideal for an industry raking in $5 billion a year and expanding across the globe – is not a great pathway to real progress as females or as a culture. The values Beauty Redefined stand for include control over our bodies, freedom, happiness, and an understanding of our power and worth.  Victoria’s Secret represents a crazy, fun-house mirror reflection of those values – a fake form of power. When the desire only to be desired is our No. 1 priority, we lose ourselves, our control, freedom, happiness, and worth.

In the case of Victoria’s Secret, a push-up bra and thong that says “best kisser” are made to stand for “empowerment” in a way that basically slaps us in the face. If you believe me – and you should!! – then the time to fight back is now.  Let’s take back beauty, healthy sexuality that involves MUCH more than what we LOOK like, and happiness for every female that needs to find it.  A few suggestions:


One of our new, true sticky notes! Click here to buy!

Have you seen our sticky notes with awesome phrases like “There is more to BE than eye candy!” One of their most fantastic uses is slapping them on advertisements (or storefront windows…or catalogs…) to remind those who pass by that it’s OK to question media messages that hurt us. It’s OK to push back with a positive message that doesn’t make any money. It’s OK to speak up and take your happiness back! Also, it’s pretty fun. And feel free to buy some of these post-its from us and help us continue our nonprofit work through for Beauty Redefined Foundation here.


Sometimes we forget how easy it is to turn our heads, change the channel, flip that magazine around, etc.  If you’d like to see a huge change in the way you see yourself, choose a period of time to steer clear of as much media as you can. That way, you can see how your life is different without all those messages and images, and when you return to popular media, you will be more sensitive to the messages that hurt you and those that are unrealistic. Studies back this up and we’ve tried it – IT WORKS! 


If our suggestion to turn away from media that degrades or otherwise hurts you is just not enough for you, consider your fierce influence as an advocate for women. When you come across a company’s advertising that fuels female insecurity or a magazine that objectifies women even as it claims to empower them, speak up! Blogging your disapproval is a great start, and so is posting links to news stories that reveal harmful ideals on social networking sites. Join way more than 15,000 of us on Facebook for regular links to share and continue this conversation! If you’d like to go a step further, write to and/or call your local cable company, network TV station, newspaper and any other media outlet perpetuating harmful messages. Make your voice heard – you will not be alone in doing so.

This blog post is a condensed version of a paper written and presented by  Lexie Kite for the 2011 National Communication Association Conference, which took Top Prize in the Women’s Studies Division.

  1. Ashley

    I’m conflicted here. I am all for your message of being capable of more than being looked at, but I am still a pretty big fan of VS. Here’s where I come from. I’m a 27 year old independent woman with my own place. I have plans of becoming a writer. I haven’t finished college yet but I’m working on it. I also do volunteer work and advocate several causes that I am passionate about. I am also a current pageant title holder within a platform based system. Mentally and emotionally, I have came a long way. I used to be be very insecure with my body and my abilities, as many young girls are when they are still growing up. It took me years ago over come them, but I did so without expecting the world (specifically the media and fashion industry to change to suit me. I found it from within.)

    Having that said, when I can I like to buy from VS, look through their catalogs, and watch their fashion show. It gives it a giddy, girly feeling. Do I buy their products solely for the male gaze? No. Maybe partially. I do get excited about what my long term boyfriend will think of their lingerie on me. And what is wrong with that? He knows I am actually a strong, bold, and empowered woman and he respects me for the person I am. He loves me in scrubs. But I don’t see anything wrong with occasionally dressing up in lingerie for fun and fantasy. It doesn’t take away from what else I can do and have done as a independent women.

    In fact, it could arguably be possibly insulting to insinuate that women who buy into VS image and buy their products are so impressionable that they will believe the idea that looking sexy is a woman’s main priority, as if they can’t think for themselves or won’t realize that looks won’t buy you a college degree and a good career. If I can manage to love VS for what they are, which is a girly store that sells sexy merchandise, and not something to aspire to live by all while actually doing important things with my life, I am confident other woman can find their way to that realization as well.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined11-03-2011

      Hi Ash! I think it’d be insulting to insinuate women who buy into VS are so impressionable they can’t think for themselves too! I’d definitely never think that – or write that – because I got into this research based on my having been a VS shopper. If you read back, my argument is that this very powerful company – whose advertisements are inescapable for mall walkers, TV watchers, mailbox owners, etc., swiftly moved from a perfectly acceptable lingerie store to a powerhouse whose images remain unquestioned and whose mission is based on faux “empowerment” for profit. My post is about critically examining messages we get from powerful media sources – in this case, VS tells us they are for women to feel good about themselves and NOT for men to look at, but if we analyze the ads, images, fashion shows, etc., we see something very different come to the surface. I don’t find anything wrong with lingerie – not at all! I do find it critically important to break down the normalized messages we see each day. That was the point to this piece. From what I know about you, you’re a strong, empowered, smart woman and I’d never question that! Hope I cleared things up :)

      • Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth
        Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth11-15-2011

        Ambient ads with VS are a really important point, and I think you differentiated the argument quite well.

        I’ll never forget my (then) 9 yr old wincing at a VS model straddled over a chair in the window display in garter belt/thigh high stockings & a bustier, saying, “why do they DO that?” It created a ‘body shame’ moment of sexualization that really irked me because it was VERY ‘Frederick’s’ in its porny pose and inescapable.

        Wish I’d have had those sticky note send-ups you’re adding in the photo above back then! ;-) As we head into the holiday season, I’m sure VS will reinforce the ‘women as gifts to unwrap’ analogy to kingdom come as well. Not giving me ‘good tidings of comfort and joy.’

        Thanks for taking a critical thinking lens to AMBIENT ads, because it’s the age compression and ‘always on’ factor that’s saturating media/mktg msgs and zinging kids sideways by plopping them into a sphere of objectification completely out of their control. Nothing empowering about that.

        p.s. You might enjoy a related post I wrote awhile back when VS undie models were given a ‘star of fame’ in L.A. and I was SMH w/incredulity: “Hollywood Walk of Lame” (celebrification of merely existing–beauty culture as ‘angels’ le sigh)

      • MsCarol420

        Victorias dirty little Secret is their use of prison labor for slave wages to make their product.

    • rizveevee

      I was looking for something like this.Thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Well, Ashley,forgive my rudeness and bluntness, but I think what you said backs up entirely what Lexie’s saying. The fact that you even partially wear VS for the male attention backs up her point. The fact that you’re excited to show it off to your boyfriend proves her point. There’s nothing wrong with “occasionally dressing up in lingerie,” you’re right there, but the fact that lingerie gives you (and not just you, it’s more like the whole country) a confidence boost? That shouldn’t be. VS ads tend to say that if you wear their lingerie, you’ll feel “empowered”/confident, but you shouldn’t have to feel sexy to feel confident! There is so much more to you! You are truly a strong, bold, empowered woman and THAT’S all that should matter. Not your lingerie. Because frankly, no one but your boyfriend should be seeing your lingerie, sweetie. And he frankly shouldn’t care very much.

      • Carly

        So are you saying that the problem here is that a woman tries to look sexier to feel better in the bedroom around her significant other, or is your statement more general, saying that what a woman wears should never determine how she feels?
        I don’t see why, for this point, wearing nice lingerie should be any different than wearing a nice shirt, or putting on make up. All of these alter the appearance in a way that is pleasing to the wearer, or they wouldn’t bother with the product in the first place.
        Would you say that, on your wedding day, since you are a bold, empowered woman, it shouldn’t matter what you’re wearing? Would you feel just as confident in a pair of sweatpants as in a gorgeous gown because you shouldn’t have to feel pretty to feel confident?

      • Courntey

        I would, Carly. The dress did not make me feel pretty or confident. The dress was pretty, that doesn’t mean I should see as an object that makes me pretty. There is a BIG difference between wearing “a nice shirt” & “looking nice in a shirt.” The first one is ok, and a comment on your style which *can* (but not always) be a reflection of who you are, the second reduces you to the way your body looks, which is not at all a reflection of who you are. See the difference? Lingerie should act as a tease, before the fun bits. But you should feel just as confident, beautiful, & sexy when your nude in front of significant other, actually you should feel more so. That means that a bra that makes you look 2 sizes bigger shouldn’t make you feel sexier, but it will make you feel like your breast are too small. More so however, It is important to realize that this post is more about VS’s marketing, NOT their product. It is about their hypocrisy. If their mission statement is to “empower women” and all they sell are objects clearly made for the male gaze, then either they are hypocrites or their definition of empowerment is gaining the male gaze. Either way those are good reasons to boycott a store.

    • Jenna

      Here is what I think. It is TOTALLY normalized pornography. I think it should perhaps not be so loud or replace their so called models with plastic sparkle manikins. I dont think you should be able to go to your friendly neighborhood mall and deal with huge posters of naked women. As far as woman buying into VS, it all has to do with a persons personality. You can argue if the glass is half empty or half full all day long, the problem is the glass itself. Make an age requirement to enter the store and start putting the posters on the inside. That way, those who dont want to see it dont have to risk seeing it. Those who want to enter whatever their reason can. Just like your local strip club.

      • liv

        Because total censorship also is desirable… lets just get to the point where women are told what to wear or how to wear it… and if they wear something we don’t like… they are whores and deserve to be rapped because they are asking for it because they wear lace panties under their rompers… right… All men are all horny animals with no self control (except our dads but maybe that isn’t true) and we women are so fragile and unable to control our own life and way of life that we have to conform to what society says is acceptable to wear under our clothes so we do not get men all riled up so they come after us… I see you have such a great argument.

      • Kristan


        I agree with you. There are lines that can be crossed, but I think VS still keeps it semi-tasteful. The women of the 1960’s starting the feminist movement made this type of store possible. Empowerment comes in many different channels and this is one of them, although it’s not everyone’s chosen method or preference.

  2. Jennifer

    Thank you for writing this article about Victoria Secrets. I completely agree that it does not empower women at all. In fact, it use to make me feel very insecure seeing all of the perfect models in the commercials. I haven’t purchased anything from VS in a couple of years and will NEVER return to VS again. I love this article!

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you, Jennifer. The models in the VS ads always make me feel MORE insecure about my body because they indicate that a female should look a specific way to be beautiful…tall, size 0 or 2, tan, long legs, pouty lips…whatever. I am completely opposite of all of this. I am short, sturdy, size 12, pale and white, abnormally short legs, sarcastic lips…whatever. But I am proud of my body. I had to learn to be proud of my body because of the media’s influence on how they think women should look and men’s opinions based on that. It took a long time…and I still have to remind myself that I am not them. I am me. My body is different and that is ok. When I see ads like what VS puts out, I have to remind myself often that it’s ok that I am different.

      • This Girl
        This Girl05-23-2013

        I agree. Even skinny girls feel insecure after seeing VS models because it’s highly unlikely to have that large of a rack on such a small frame. If this were the 1920s, I would be considered a “supermodel”, but since it’s 2013, I’m flat-chested and made to feel like I need bigger boobs.

        And P.S. “Sarcastic lips” are 10x better than “pouty lips” because wiser words usually escape them.

      • Another skinny flat chested girl
        Another skinny flat chested girl02-12-2014

        This Girl, I feel the same way. How many skinny girls are there with big boobs? 10%? How many skinny girls with big boobs according to the media/VS? Answer: 99%

        I feel so insecured when there are big boobed-ed images are everywhere but I am determined to stick to my natural body and will not get plastic surgeries just to look hot/sexy. This is my body and if my man wants more? GET OUT OF HERE.

    • annie burroughs
      annie burroughs05-16-2013

      Those girls do not have perfect bodies!They are not normal.They starve themselves to be thin.And the commercials are targeted for the men.Have you ever seen one of their commercials on during the day?No,Its always around 9 oclock at night when the husbands are home.VS is bs and im not buying into it!

  3. Dignity Zine
    Dignity Zine11-05-2011

    This is a well-researched, unbiased post and I thank you for speaking out against VS. The sexualization of women is offensive; the sexualization of little girls is a crime. I’m appalled that the Limited is grooming its underage customers for VS merchandise. Appalled, but not surprised.

    The scariest part is the complicity of female shoppers who buy into these harmful messages. I think most of us have gotten sucked up in the sexy machine at some point, but the beauty of articles like these is that they un-brainwash us and help us be more mindful consumers.

    I know MEN who receive the VS catalog and are not married or attached to a woman. It is pornography bundled as innocuous “fashion.” So, VS is guilty not only of the sexualization of girls and women but the normalization of porn in print, online, and through prime time television.

    Read more on Dignity Zine:

  4. Brittany Smith
    Brittany Smith11-05-2011

    I am a newly wed and went to David’s Bridal to try on wedding weddings. Well, I had to give them my mailing address and they sold my information to a third party-VS. Within a couple of months, I started to receive the catalogs and they also addressed one to my fiance at the time. I crossed out the address, sent it back to VS and wrote,”wrong address-I don’t subscribe to soft-core porn”. They never sent another catalog. It is interesting that VS appears nearly everywhere. Last year I watched several NFL football games with my fiance during Thanksgiving and the VS supermodels appeared during the commercials in which they promoted the fashion show several times (probably five or six times within two hours).

    • Anonymous

      Thank You, Brittany. I am going to use that advice the next time they send me their advertisements. I really like their pajama line…you know, the fleece ones, but if I want pajamas, I will go get them. I don’t need all the soft porn to find them, thank you.

  5. Megan

    I have never looked at anything from Victoria’s Secret — its stores, its products, its fashion show, its advertisements — and felt good about myself. How surprising it was to read, then, that the company claims its aim is to “empower” women and make us feel good about ourselves. I guess this is just a classic example of actions speaking louder than words.

    What is particularly upsetting to me is I think many women, especially a lot of teenage girls, think wearing a thong that says “Best Kisser” IS what gives them power. It can get them attention, compliments — who doesn’t want that at 16? As we all know though, this is a false power — it’s more a stripping of power than anything else.

    Thank you, once again, for an excellent post. I will be sharing it. I especially love the practical, truly empowering suggestions you offer at the end. So inspiring!

    • Joshua

      You are right on the money, great article and great post Megan. Keep up the good work.

  6. Lori Day
    Lori Day11-05-2011

    I really can’t stand the “PINK” section for young girls that is always next to the grown-up side. The items in there are so inappropriate it is mind-blowing. When my daughter was about 13, we were walking past Pink in the mall and she asked, “Is that stuff for kids my age?” and I told her yes, and she asked, “Why in the world would parents let their daughters buy stuff there, and WHO my age would want to do that to themselves?” You know how at first it was The Gap. Then Gap Kids. Then Baby Gap? Coming soon to a mall near you…Baby Angels. ARGH!!!

    • Kelly L.
      Kelly L.12-05-2011

      I actually thought Pink was aimed at college women. The fonts used, the sweats with logos on the butt, etc., are drawn from collegiate clothing trends, and the brand is extremely popular at the colleges in my town. You can’t walk two steps without tripping over a college student in a Pink hoodie or sweatpants.

      Of course, I don’t think it’s at all unusual for a younger age range to like a look aimed at older people–but it was my impression that the intended audience, at least, was adults of about 18-21.

  7. Andrea

    What a thoughtful post. I haet the VS ads for exactly these reasons. Don’t tell me you are selling empowerment and then paste up a 21 yo model licking her fingers. I don’t feel empowered when I’m 3/4 naked licking my fingers and I don’t know anyone who does. I love pretty fun sexy things but I love getting them from stores that respect my intelligence!

  8. R

    It’s completely a lie that they want to empower ALL women…they only sell items that fit tiny women. They don’t have a large selection of bra sizes…and if you are larger than a size 6, good luck finding undies that actually fit. They should increase their range of sizes (clothing and undergarments) to fit non-model size women…it would be much more empowering to not be made to feel plus sized at a size 8. Or to be made to feel ugly at any size.

    • Katie

      Their bras don’t even fit all tiny women, though– I’m between an AA and AAA cup. They hardly ever sell size AA in their stores, and if they do, they only bra they carry in that size is their ridiculous “adds 2 cup sizes” bra.

      • MK

        That is the best reply ever Katie. In a society where sexualization is everything, you take the opportunity to complain that VC sells the up-sizing bra. I love you innocence.

      • Danielle

        That is another good point that’s not being hit on as much, here. There’s nothing wrong with being a AA or AAA- the fact that they have an ‘adds 2 sizes’ bra is the opposite of empowering, to say the least.

      • Anonymous

        Amen. It is more like saying, “You don’t fit the model that a woman SHOULD be, so we are going to make you one.” That is not empowering at all.

      • Maria

        Interesting, at the stores in my area they also don’t have bras for my size. I’m a 40DDD. I went in to be measured once and was told I was too large to buy in the store, I’d have to go on-line.

    • Susan

      I don’t want to be an advocate for VS here, but I also don’t believe some of the size accusations are reasonable. Most stores don’t carry sizes in stock that fit few of their clients and special orders are then the norm (my aunt for instance always buys shoes online to fit her very narrow feet). At a curvy 40DD, no one has ever thought of me as small in any sense, and VS online has over 50 bras in my size in a range of styles. Whether I buy from them or not, I’m actually happy that they are adding to my options. I can go to a store catering to plus size women and find bras in-store in my size (noting that they won’t have bras for smaller breasted women in stock). Or, I can go to a store like Macy’s and find some bras that will fit me (albeit in a special section usually) as well as bras for all shapes and sizes. Some stores cater to smaller sizes, some to larger, some to all. It seems presumptuous to suggest that a store must cater specifically to YOUR size, whatever that might be.

      Or, is the argument here that because they are implying bras are sexy, by not having larger or smaller bras they are implying that those who take those sizes are not sexy? It would seem that you can’t have it both ways – hating the sexiness message, but wanting to be included when sexiness is defined.

  9. A prude, perhaps
    A prude, perhaps11-16-2011

    Maybe I’m in a minority here, but I even do have a problem with lingerie for the purpose of “enhancing” sexual relationships. To me, it’s like the mentality that porn is ok in a marriage. First of all, if people are buying this kind of stuff (whether actual porn or normalized porn packaged as “empowering” products for women), they are funding companies, enabling them to continue objectifying women and harming our society with normalized (and other) porn.

    Secondly, I think lingerie distorts truth about sexuality and love, and about marriage and respectful, equal partnership. I just can’t see how the model of woman as object and man as objectifier can be a good thing to continue into a marriage. If we are to reject these lies, why not reject them in the most important of human relationships?

    Think about it. What happens when she no longer feels ‘sexy’ in her lingerie after having a baby (or he becomes critical of the stretch marks or extra pounds), etc.?) To me, lingerie only perpetuates the idea that beauty is tied to shape or skin tone, that love is about ‘being hot’ rather than about something much deeper. Seeds are sown for continued unhealthy focus on the body and false notions of beauty…only now they have affected not only a personal sense of worth and value, but have affected the view of what married love and intimacy and commitment should be based and built upon.

    My vote is to take the focus off of these notions of ‘beauty’ and ‘hot’ness, even in the married bedroom.

    Another way to think critically about this is to think about what the media does in hijacking conversations about what “good sex” is. The focus is almost always on the “latest and greatest tips” that people just HAVE to spend money to get. (That’s just more normalized porn, imo and feeding an insatiable appetite for “more, new, better” that the media will always gladly provide.)

    To me, that is part and parcel of the same problem. If we buy into the tabloid and other “checkstand media” (or VC) models of what will make for a great sex life (which our culture has equated with love), we are getting caught in the same traps that happen when we buy into photoshopped models of what ‘beauty’ is.

    • Danielle

      That is a very good point, and I, for one, totally agree with you.

  10. Ashley

    I thought I was a prude. In response to the last two commenters, Look people have sex and wear sexy things. It’s human nature and as long as it is being kept in the bedroom, who cares? What people do with their bodies and sex lives is none of your business. It doesn’t have any effect on you. Sex can be whatever an individual or couple wants it to be, as long as they are happy with it, even if it is porn. Men aren’t always complete assholes, jerks, or idiots. They aren’t going to immediately or automatically lose respect for their wives or see them as just an object of sex once they slip into a lingerie piece. My man still loves and respects every inch of me in either my sexy lingerie or my granny nightgowns, but it’s understandable to me and fun for the both of us when I put on sexy clothes that he finds pleasure in viewing and he does the same for me. It’s healthy!

    I’m looking through the VS Christmas Special catalog right now and I see nothing pornographic about it. These women have to show their bodies to show the underwear. We have seen worse photos from 16 year old Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears for crying out loud.

    • Emily

      Ashley, you are absolutely incorrect. Everything about the VS holiday catalog screams soft core pornography. I think you are looking at something else.

      • Ashley

        I’m sorry but you don’t have any right to call me incorrect. It’s all about perception. You might see it as pornographic, and that is fine with me, but I do not. I see the same thing when I flip through the Sears catalog. I think women sporting bras and undies is different than porn.

      • Jill

        Everyone should know there is a big difference between Victoria’s Secret catalogs and advertisements for bras and underwear in Macy’s, Sear’s, and Dillard’s, for example. Victoria’s Secret models often have seductive looks on their faces and are positioned sexually with legs spread.

        Victoria’s Secret “underwear advertisements are not intended as an aid to masturbation in the way pornography is but many of the same codes and messages in porn are present in such advertisements” (Root p. 7). Consequently women have become bound by the clothes they wear. Victoria’s Secret exhibits a depiction of soft core porn which “…is legal, focusing on woman in various (limited) sexual postures, with man rarely appearing in the scene-except by implication, as a spectator” (Ussher p. 153). Victoria’s Secret can be categorized as soft porn in its exploitation of female sexuality.

      • Ashley

        So women’s sexuality should be kept hidden away, right? It’s funny, I used to have similar views as some of you. I shamed the likes the strippers, Hooters girls, Playboy, porn stars, etc for “exploiting women’s sexuality.” Then I discovered a thing called “sex positive feminism” as well as a term called “slut shaming.” If you don’t know what it is, I suggesting reading into it.

      • Lindsay

        Sex positive feminism has to do with consenting adults. However, when a VS catalog comes in the mail (that I didn’t request) and my husband walks by and is tempted to start browsing, or my son, or my three young daughters….you see the point? I get that you are comfortable with your sexuality, as am I. If you don’t think soft core porn is harmful to YOU, fine. However, these messages are very harmful to countless people. They contribute to eating disorders, poor self-esteem, porn addictions, etc. Just b/c it doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a social concern and we’re prudes. Those magazines are definitely geared towards a man’s satisfaction. Anyone could tell you that. I don’t want my kids or husband seeing it, even if I DO wear it myself. Porn is WAY too normalizd and despite what media says, there is a LOT of evidence showing how destructive it is (not to mention several divorces I know of). I’m glad you are comfortable with your body. Not many women are these days.

      • Rachel

        Pardon me… but you are your husband’s wife… not his master? Who are you to say you don’t want him seeing it? Also who are YOU to say what other people can and can’t do?

      • Liz

        Yes Lindsay, you ARE your husband’s wife. As such, if a naked woman entered your house, you’d immediately kick her out on the front stoop and slam the door. If she then placed pictures of herself in your mailbox, you’d call the police (cuz that’s just creepy.) If you decided getting pictures of scantily clad or naked women in the mail was okay, so long as they came in a glossy magazine and you’d never met them…it would STILL be creepy! If you said to yourself “my husband can emotionally cheat on me if he wants to because I’m not his master” then I would feel sorry for you. Where is the empowerment of not having self respect and demanding it of those who love you most? But then you probably already understand that, Lindsay, so I won’t keep preaching to the choir.

      • peaches

        Thank you all for your views.

        I am currently trying to find my way through this societal minefield and recover from a very long held eating disorder, as well as make peace with sexual abuse, pornography that has been forced on me in the past, and try and embrace my own healthy sexuality.

        What disturbs me most is that as women, in some of these posts, the comments have gotten ‘personal’ and seem like attacks on each other.

        C’mon ladies, we have to respect each other first!

        All of this is our opinions, which we are entitled to, and unfortunately it is such a sensitive and personal issue we are bound to get fired up.

        As much as we might not like what someone else has to say, refute the message, and not the messenger! Which I know is a very hard thing to differentiate sometimes.

        Again, thank you all for your input, it will help me to arrive at a place where I can embrace my past, my present and my future. And truly be at peace.

      • Lydia

        “So women’s sexuality should be kept hidden away, right? It’s funny, I used to have similar views as some of you. I shamed the likes the strippers, Hooters girls, Playboy, porn stars, etc for “exploiting women’s sexuality.” Then I discovered a thing called “sex positive feminism” as well as a term called “slut shaming.” If you don’t know what it is, I suggesting reading into it.”

        What’s funny about “slut shaming” is it’s still sexism. We have girls calling themselves sluts and whores as a form of “empowerment” when it’s patriarchy, repackaged. Where are the men calling themselves those words in the same context? Where are the men seeking to be called a slut? A sexual man is just a sexual man. Now, a sexual woman is a “self-proclaimed slut.” I don’t see what’s so empowering.

        Also problematic is that Playboy and many mainstream porn stars further an unrealistic beauty ideal. full of airbrushing and fakery (and come on, you think the reason so many of them have fake breasts is because they’re “empowered”? What do you think made them so insecure they paid to have plastic inserted into their bodies?). A lot of what stripping and porn is appealing to men. That’s not to say they’re inherently problematic but in their current state, they are. Have you seen the marketing for porn? It’s misogyny. “18 and Abused,” girls getting called whores and bitches all over the places. These porn stars and producers (AND viewers) are furthering the problem. Plenty of the men who visit strip clubs harbor stereotypical, derogatory views of women. That’s the whole point.

        While rad feminism has some iffy areas, sex-positive feminism is pull of cracks. A lot of it is just misogyny, all over again. This is why I’m wary of calling myself a feminist at all.

    • what?

      It’s human nature to want to wear something sexy or be “sexualized”? I guess I missed that lecture during one of my biology classes.

      I like how the word “prude” was originally used with a positive connotation and now has a negative one–why is it so horrible to be a person who doesn’t want sex shoved in their face continually by media? Why is it so horrible when a couple wants to maintain their sexuality with each other? I’m a “prude” but I don’t have an issue with sex, I just happen to keep it between my partner and I. We’re both happy like that and we both enjoy an extremely active sex life, we just happen to believe that sex is intimate and private and should be kept between a couple rather than openly shared with everyone (including media).

      I don’t like turning the TV on and watching overtly sexualized ads, such as those in VS commercials. To those who think otherwise; Sears catalogs are NOT the same in their advertising, they use more normal looking women who are plainly standing in their underwear to -advertise the underwear/lingerie-, while VS often shows an extremely attractive, young woman with her lips parted, laying on her back. VS seems to be selling the sexual aspect NOT just their lingerie.

      It strikes me as a little pathetic when a company relies on sexual imagery to sell their product. It never makes me want to buy it, it makes me wonder how much the product itself sucks that the company needs to resort to that. Sort of like covering a boot with icing and calling it cake.

      • Anonymous

        Often with the Sears or other department store models, you never see their face or the rest of their body. You see the product being advertised.

    • Me

      I think it’s worth noting that women are expected to “present” themselves as dressed in lingerie, but where are the men dressing up for their girlfriends? More of that, please.

  11. A prude, perhaps
    A prude, perhaps11-19-2011

    “What people do with their bodies and sex lives is none of your business. It doesn’t have any effect on you. Sex can be whatever an individual or couple wants it to be, as long as they are happy with it, even if it is porn.”

    I disagree with this, but maybe I didn’t explain well enough why. I think the porn is damaging to women, to men, and to our society. In my mind, it’s wrong to detach the consumption and/or purchasing of porn from its creation and its effects on our society. There is no good use of porn, in my opinion, because it’s part of a larger problem that is having a significant impact on lives everywhere.

    And I think it’s all of our business to realize that.

    That is different from going around asking people what they do or don’t do in the bedroom. I’m speaking thoughts in a general way. If lingerie works for you, that certainly isn’t my business (nor was I trying to make it such). But I still think lingerie can be its own part of the objectification problem…again, speaking to the issue generally.

    But please note that I know there are different opinions on lingerie, which is why I prefaced my comment as I did. I know some see it as playful, positive, having its place, etc. But I still think there is some inconsistency in frustration about objectification of women’s bodies while not seeing how lingerie *could* play into that, even in a marriage. I’m not saying it *always* does. I’m just saying it could. I also do feel strongly about challenging cultural “wisdom” on what “good sex”‘ may look like.

    ” These women have to show their bodies to show the underwear.”

    But bodies placed in provocative poses don’t *have* to be shown to sell underwear in the first place. I get that this is ‘how it’s done’ today, but the whole point of this site in my view is to challenge some of that ‘this is how it’s done’ approach to things. My point is that if we are going to challenge one part of it all, it may be worth challenging it all. If you unpack it and still think parts of it are ok, you can have that opinion. I’m just expressing mine. I realize they may be different from others’ — even the authors of this post.

    “We have seen worse photos from 16 year old Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears for crying out loud.”

    Maybe we have (and I’m sure that’s true), but that doesn’t make Victoria’s Secret’s stuff a positive in my mind.

    • Laura--The Sushi Snob
      Laura--The Sushi Snob11-29-2011

      I’m pretty sure women have dressed in sheer, seductive clothing for the purpose of sex since the beginning of time, before porn was ever a business. I don’t really see anything wrong with lingerie in a marriage, especially if it’s tasteful. Yes, I think there is such a thing as tasteful lingerie. To me, lingerie falls into two categories: slutty and elegant. The slutty lingerie gets the most screen and picture time, and is designed to appeal men’s baser senses. The elegant lingerie doesn’t get as much “publicity”, if you will, but it is designed to inspire romance, rather than animalistic passion. Plus, it’s much easier to wear…

      Just my two cents :)

      • lee

        wow! thats two intelligent women here.

    • Krishnabrodhi

      I don’t understand the point of view that it is ok to advertise “sexy” underwear as long as you don’t associate it with sex. I think this is an assumption of a hangup or taboo against sex that not everyone has.

  12. Jenny

    Is it porn? You bet your a$$ their media is porn. Most married men that I know call the VS catalog “married men’s porn.” So even men are acknowledging it is porn.

    In a practical sense…I don’t need really expensive, poorly made, uncomfortable undergarments.

    Based on my experience, men don’t need a woman to be dressed up to participate in sex. (Men are pretty easy, sorry guys!) Women don’t need either men or women to be dressed up to participate in sex. Generally a long kiss or a naked body will get it all going!

    • Krishnabrodhi

      “Based on my experience, men don’t need a woman to be dressed up to participate in sex. (Men are pretty easy, sorry guys!) Women don’t need either men or women to be dressed up to participate in sex. Generally a long kiss or a naked body will get it all going!”

      Couldn’t agree with you more.

    • lee

      no, we don’t need it but be honest, it’s fun

    • Anonymous

      Besides that, if people like to get all dressed up in lingerie for sex, where is all the men’s lingerie. Lingerie is sold to appeal to MEN. It is to arouse MEN. I’m not saying it doesn’t make women feel beautiful, but where does that feeling come from? MEN. These ads are all about MEN’s desires.

      • Anonymous

        If men saw “granny nightgowns” in magazines, and said “Wow!!! That is HOT!!!” I could guarantee that a woman’s view on lingerie would change. Instead of dressing up in her sexy teddy to appeal to her significant other, she would be wearing a “granny nightgown.”

  13. Rg

    I just scanned the VS winter catalog online because I wanted to see how much of it I would consider as porn. There was a very small portion of models/scenes that I was slightly “offended” by (I find porn interesting because my boyfriend has looked at it since he was a young teenager and I never looked at porn until I met him).
    There were models laying on couches and beds in seductive ways, and models without any coverage over their breasts except for an arm or the VS angel wing. The faces however, models are supposed to “smize” as Tyra calls it, they are supposed to have eye catching faces and poses to sell the product.
    These women just happen to be selling bras and underwear. I have to admit that I am going to try to look sexy in those poses for when my boyfriend comes home in order to try to seduce him right away after a long day of work. While I agree that VS catalogs can be considered soft core porn, I know men who can get aroused by ANY picture of a woman in undergarments, whether its the Sears catalog or VS catalog. And I quite like a good mens underwear page every now and then too.

  14. Jordan

    Almost proving your point as women being objects for men is the latest bridal range. In particular the panties with the tag line “property of the groom”. When I marry my partner, it won’t be to be his property, it will be because I love him and he loves me. Unfortunately some of the worst messages companies like this send out are done in the most subtle ways.

    • lee

      i am awaitng the day of your divorce

      • Amy

        Lee, don’t be awful. Divorce is a painful situation and it isn’t polite to wish upon someone.

  15. Erin

    Thank you for the insightful article.

    Just because our society has degraded to the point that we are all used to seeing sexualized, exposed women’s bodies on television and in print, does not mean that it is not pornography.

    I understand as well, that if you are a woman, and you are not attracted to or aroused by the female form, then it is very easy to be naive about just how it affects men.
    I believe that pornography is a vicious and infiltrating influence that has far-reaching negative affects. I have read studies on men in jail for violent crimes and the extremely high incidence of long-standing pornography addiction. Pornography makes women nothing but objects to be acted upon, and is like a disease.

    An interesting excerpt about how something as simple as a woman’s body in a bikini affects a man:

    If you disagree that Victoria’s Secret is soft-core pornography, that part of their aim is to arouse men and drive up sales by ‘selling sex’, then you are kidding yourself.

    I hope that I can teach my young daughters that their bodies are wonderful and beautiful–that sex is wonderful and beautiful and can unify a husband and wife–but that their bodies are not display items for the enjoyment of those around them.

    • Lucy


    • Kari


      The Princeton study that is quickly snatched up by the religious community as an attempt to shoulder women, yet again, as the bearers of men’s lust is just a futile attempt to control women and make us even more self-conscious of our bodies. As a psychology student, I have examined extensive research on society, women, religion and self-esteem. The over-arching control on women’s bodies only works to impart shame and self-consciousness in women.
      Has it ever occurred to you, Erin, to reflect alittle on what this study means? Dont just listen to the religious speaker who needs you to buy into his ideals so he can continue to preach. Did you notice how he said “headless bodies?” That means they are already dehumanized..just like tools. How many headless women in bikinis do you see walking around? The study was based on PICTURES, not real humans. Do you think it is fair to burden women and shame them into being self-conscious just so religion can be right in their subordination of women and girls?
      I have conducted my own studies and it is not the lack of clothes that hurt women, it is the shaming of society that causes the biggest self-loathing.
      Here’s a thought…men should be held accountable for their own thoughts and feelings. I am not so worried about the results of this study because humans are higher order thinkers, just because men see a woman in a bikini does not mean he will “act upon her.”
      My bigger worry is the shaming effect being exploited by religious groups to “keep women in their place.”

  16. Madison

    As a young woman soon to be married who is still a virgin, I find VS to be damaging. Many of my friends have been married in the past couple years and it has given me a different perspective on what messages we get from the media through advertisements such as VS. Not only do they contradict their motto (which I wasn’t even aware of and practically laughed at), but they also damage in young girls minds what sex is and what expectations they should have of themselves in sex. VS presents us with models in crazy outfits posing seductively and acting like porn stars – I hope we don’t have to act like porn stars to arouse our husbands. I think that the greatest crimes of VS is perverting sex and perpetuating pornography. I appreciate your post & the work you are doing!

  17. mother of two daughters
    mother of two daughters11-30-2011

    I used to get the older VS catalogs when I was going through my ‘victorian’ inspired lifestyle. I thought they were tastefully done, although, I had friends who got upset with me having them in my home because their children might see them. (i put them out of sight) I have rarely shopped in VS stores. I don’t like the way they portray women at all. Don’t like the ”message” they send out. They don’t appeal to me. I have only recently purchased yoga pants and sweaters that I thought were unique through their catalog. I do like to wear lacy ”sexy” under garments because that’s what I like. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m a part of the porn industry or undermining me in any way. It’s my personal choice. As a mother of two beautiful daughters, I raised them to believe in themselves and make their own choices. Now that they are older, I see they aren’t influenced by VS or any other media dictating how they ”should” look. I believe that if parents instill good values in their children to begin with, they’ll figure it out as they grow older. My daughters are constantly comparing what they’ve been taught, what they are discovering about themselves and what is speaking to them ”out there”. I’ve always tried to treat my daughters with respect, and I think that has some how instilled in them an intelligence to respect themselves, so that if they come across something like VS telling them how they should present themselves to the world, they usually ignore it.
    Thanks for sharing~!

  18. Peter

    I’m really confused by this whole concept actually, we really do live in a crazy world. Why you would care about this (Victorias Secret) is interesting in the first place, I’m not saying that I don’t, I’m just saying it’s interesting. From a male perspective, although I’d like to just say from a persons perspective, I don’t find the whole concept of Victroias Secret revolting because of the sexual aspect.

    This store is just another means of turning yourself into a product, into a package, that you can sell to another person, which is what I find disgusting about the whole thing and our society in General. To wrap yourself in a little bow tie and offer yourself to another person, how does that empower you? It doesn’t, it turns you into a material posesion. My girlfriend has done that before, honestly I think on some level it brought me to think of her more as a sexual object that the person she is, by turning her from a complex being with desires and wants into a item or tool for desire.

    Maybe this doesn’t make sense to allot of people, but I feel much more comfortable and less conflicted about looking at someone who is just naked than someone who is touched up and in lingerie. It’s clear when you open any magazine the pursuit of perfection has clearly gone to far. All these cloths, work out routines and dresses are so silly, we’re just people, what are we trying to pretend here? It’s OK to have a couple problems with your body, we all do, be proud your alive.

    • Michelle

      “To wrap yourself in a little bow tie and offer yourself to another person, how does that empower you? It doesn’t, it turns you into a material posesion.”

      I actually think this is part of what Beauty Redefined is taking a stand against — not just the sexualization of women, but also the simple objectification of women. To find confidence in who you ARE not how you LOOK.

  19. Brittany

    I married fairly young and thought I was part of a loving and respectful relationship. Unfortunately, on some level, both he and I bought into the “perfect body” image. Over time, my body changed and so did his attitude towards me. We had VS catalogs come in the mail and I was always looking for something new to wow him with, but in truth, those catalogs only made me feel inadequate and pressured, not empowered.

    There is a whole lot more that went into my first marriage (which ended after 4 years) than the above example and I’m not claiming VS to be responsible. I simply find interesting the difference of views and attitudes in my second husband. My husband now prefers me to wear more elegant and tasteful lingerie, a stark difference from my previous marriage. When asked why, he said that he wanted me to look beautiful, not hot. He further explained that when he sees images plastered everywhere, such as hot, seductive VS models, he has a difficult time not seeing those women as only objects intended for base male viewing. “You’re not an insatiatble sex machine here for my consumption. Why should you look like one?” he said. I feel more respected, cherished, beautiful and empowered than I have in long time.

    I am not at all saying that my relationship should be the standard, the one and only way for respect to exist. I’m simply one person with a single example. This article was thought-provoking and added education and research to my personal experience.

    • Jessica

      Hi Brittany,

      Almost 8 months after your post, you may not remember even writing it but I must say your comment is so poignant to this article (in my opinion). From a young age I have insisted that I would much prefer to beautiful than “hot” as hotness fades and beauty is forever. Surprisingly, very few people who I have met feel the same way. I must include that I live in Vegas so that’s too be expected I guess. I am glad that you found some one to appreciate your true beauty. I know I have, and I feel more beautiful than ever because of it.

      Thank you for sharing. Its great to know that there are quality couples out there who know what the real meaning of a relationship is.

  20. Cynthia

    My major problem with VS is that they lack sizes for very small women. I am a 30B. Unlike European brands, the smallest size one can get at VS is a 32A (ok, you MIGHT be able to find 30 bands at Pink, but that’s online only and the brand caters to middle school and high school girls…I don’t have as much issue with some of the items as others. They’re nowhere near as ugly as the bras my mom bought me when I was 14. It was so bad that I started buying my own lingerie with allowance money at 16 because she would only buy the cheapo boxed stuff at the department store (I was “wider” in high school and able to fit into a 32 band)). There are a lot of adult women who’re smaller than that, and if VS wants to expand internationally (i.e. Europe and Asia), they’re going to have to accommodate. At my size, I’m only able to buy bras that are generally over $40. My choices are usually fall into the black, white and tan colour palettes (though I do have a choice between frilly/lacy and plain), so I don’t get as much choice as someone who is, say, a 34A. It’s funny. Whenever I bring up small framed issues to body image activists, I’m usually told to shut up because it “isn’t a real problem” unlike someone who is, say, a 50DDD. I could also go on about height issues, but this isn’t the post for it (and once again, the issue would, at best, be acknowledged for two minutes and then dismissed.)

    • Priya

      I second this. If VS was about empowering women, I wouldn’t end up crying in the dressing room whenever I’ve tried to buy lingerie there. When I asked for my size, the attendant told me they don’t make them. It’s as if they’re saying “hey, your body isn’t sexy enough to even try to put that stuff on. Why don’t you instead get one of those ridiculously padded bras–then you will fit our ideal”. I understand they can’t make everything, but i mean, not even CARRYING AT LEAST ONE piece of lingerie in an A cup? That’s awful. The only stuff for A cup women (not in the “PINK” section) is horrifically padded. VS is only about being sexy when you look like a model or have a specific body type.

      • Rachel

        they will stock what makes profit… They aren’t telling you that you are worthless, etc.. They just produce what makes money. If not enough A cups sell, they won’t keep it on the shelves. Don’t make more about this then it is

  21. Krishnabrodhi

    This article wants us to attack Victoria Secret as if the women of the world were being victimized by them. Victoria Secret has no more power over people than is given to them by spending your money at their store. If you want to take their power away don’t attack them. Attack what they are feeding on. Raising girls to not care about someone else’s opinion about the way they look over their own is a better way to start because that strength is something that is needed by all women… all people in fact. It is a strength that is useful in so many ways. Peer pressure is not just about lip gloss and thongs… it is also about having sex too early, smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, etc etc. Raise the girls to be strong independent women then you will have less of what I see everyday. Which is women that “say” they do what they do for themselves while worrying about what everyone else thinks about how they look. Or women that say how they look shouldn’t be the thing that is most important thing about them while not being able to look at a little girl without the first thing coming out of her mouth being how pretty she is… and somehow seeing absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    I would love to see women have a healthier and happier point of view on their appearance. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of women being insecure about how they look pretty much all of my life… and it is really sad to see how widespread it is. I really do want to see it change… but I think the effort to accomplish this should be aimed in the right direction. Just sayin…

    • Cynthia

      The thing is, different people have differing opinions on what’s “healthy.” I read a lot of petite style blogs where bloggers tend to post pictures of themselves in outfit posts. These women are, on average, about 5′ tall and probably no bigger than a 0 or 2. To me, that’s realistic, because that’s how I’m shaped. However, others, particularly those in the body image world, might *STILL* find that “fake” because 5′ and size 0 is pretty much “Olsen sized.” Are these ladies victimizing themselves, or are they being of service to similarly-sized women who want to know what an outfit REALLY looks like on people their size (rather than seeing it professionally styled, either on a very tall model or on a similarly sized celeb)? I find the ladies of sites like, and helpful.

      • Krishnabrodhi

        I appreciate you posting alternatives. It very much reminds me of my thoughts about what a previous poster had to say…

        “they only sell items that fit tiny women. They don’t have a large selection of bra sizes…and if you are larger than a size 6, good luck finding undies that actually fit. They should increase their range of sizes (clothing and undergarments) to fit non-model size women…it would be much more empowering to not be made to feel plus sized at a size 8. Or to be made to feel ugly at any size.”

        I think it is naive and unrealistic to expect that one clothing manufacture should have to make something for every single woman and body shape. VS has found their niche and are successful at it since the author sites they make “$5 billion every year”. With what must feel like a successful path for them I am not surprised that they are happy with it.

        VS is not responsible for how anyone feels about what themselves nor do they have the power to make anyone feel anything. The “make me feel” mindset is such a horrible thing to everyone. It totally shifts the blame on the external world for one’s perceptions and reactions to it. I have found it to be poisonous in pretty much any and all relationships. Especially the most important one… to ourselves. VS can’t make you feel bad about yourself if you don’t think their opinion is better than yours. There’s the starting point for change… begin to strengthen your faith in your own opinion and value of yourself and the opinions of others will effect you less.

      • kuma

        ” VS is not responsible for how anyone feels about what themselves nor do they have the power to make anyone feel anything. The “make me feel” mindset is such a horrible thing to everyone. It totally shifts the blame on the external world for one’s perceptions and reactions to it. I have found it to be poisonous in pretty much any and all relationships. Especially the most important one… to ourselves. VS can’t make you feel bad about yourself if you don’t think their opinion is better than yours. There’s the starting point for change… begin to strengthen your faith in your own opinion and value of yourself and the opinions of others will effect you less.”

        Thank you so much for posting this comment especially the “make me feel” mindset part you are absolutely right it’s detrimental to just about anything.

        How are we supposed to progress in our personal lives and as a society if we don’t stop to look inward? Change starts from within, but I understand introspection is a painful process that takes a lot of courage and strength some people simply don’t feel ready and that’s okay as long as you realize that you can go to to great lengths to discharge your negative emotions on the external world, snarl and fight for validation till the cows come home but at the end of the day you are only left with yourself the one thing you can never escape from. Our insecurities start and end with us. When I feel bad about myself that’s something that I and I alone have to face and work through. Blaming others for my issues isn’t going to get me anywhere. Just because we ban things from the media doesn’t mean that those things stop existing. Naturally beautiful people do exist in real life, are you going to ban them or shield peoples eyes so others don’t feel bad about themselves, no! When you see people like this in real life you might feel a little insecure and say maybe I should’ve dressed a little nicer today, but that’s when you have to snap out of it and say ” I acknowledge one of that persons positive qualities but that’s okay I have plenty too physical and not physical and theirs don’t take away from mine”. I have polka dot scars from razor burn and stretch marks pretty bad ones too and I scar easily so my skin isn’t the “prettiest” it was the source of really bad insecurity for a long time, I would never show my arms and legs and wore tights and cardigans to cover up even in hot summer weather. I felt truly ugly because of it but I’ve learned to get over it on my own without exterminating every effigy of flawless skin. I stopped shaving and learned to be okay with my skin because I don’t let my physical appearance define me (not so much anymore) Disclaimer: If I said I was 100%confident now I’d be lying because confidence is stronger and weaker at different intervals in our lives but you work with it you can never be 100% of anything all the time. VS models have gorgeous albeit photo-shopped skin and it really doesn’t make me loose any sleep. I can say “hey that Adriana Lima girl is really pretty” and not feel flawed and ugly. My physical appearance is a infinitesimally miniscule problem existing in a huge bright universe I inhabit. I am a thinking feeling human creature capable of creativity and compassion as is every single person and that’s what I value. I still like to play with different looks, makeup, and clothes because it’s fun, and you know what once in a while I do feel pretty on the outside and I won’t apologize for it. Feeling pretty on the outside won’t take away the pretty you feel on the inside.

      • Beauty Redefined
        Beauty Redefined12-05-2011

        I don’t see anything wrong with petite style bloggers posting pics of themselves! A woman that is 5 feet tall and a size 0 or 2 is a much more healthy representative than a woman who is 5’10” and a size 0, which is an industry standard in modeling! Plus, seeing short women is a great diversion from the same tall variety. More power to them! No one should we shamed or blamed for how they look – if your’e a healthy size 0, own it and love it! We just need to get past the number and move on to real indicators of health (like physical activity) and happiness (like focusing on so many other more beautiful things than the size on your clothes tag).

      • Dee

        I love this blog, but I hate what you just said, that ” A woman that is 5 feet tall and a size 0 or 2 is a much more healthy representative than a woman who is 5’10″ and a size 0.” I am 5’10” and a size 0. Not because I am a model, or have an eating disorder; this is just my body type, the way my bones are structured, the way I look no matter how much or little I eat and exercise. To be told that I am far less healthy than someone shorter with my same circumference is insulting. You can be a “healthy size 0” at any height. If you claim, as you have earlier, that we cannot judge a woman’s “health” (whatever that means; health is dependent on so many factors as to be a meaningless term in and of itself) by her looks or clothing size, and then go on to blatantly judge a woman’s health by her looks and clothing size, you are taking your argument one step backward. When you say things like this it makes me hard to take you seriously. What are these “real indicators of health” of which you speak? They are numerous and dependent on the individual. The real message is not that we should judge on “health” versus “size,” but that we SHOULDN’T BE JUDGING AT ALL.

      • Beauty Redefined
        Beauty Redefined10-12-2012

        Dee, you’re exactly right. I had to go back and read this comment to be sure it said “more healthy representative” because that’s not language we even use when referring to shapes or sizes. I was genuinely surprised to see that it was there. I’m not sure which of us left that reply, but I’m going to go back and edit it. We never judge health based on appearance, and everything we write about encourages a focus on ability and fitness achievement and not appearance, regardless of a woman’s size on any end of the spectrum. “Real indicators of health” are blood pressure, physical stamina and ability, heart rate, blood lipids, and other internal indicators that obviously can’t be judged from outside. I think the poor wording choice came from a desire to differentiate real health, regular unphotoshopped bodies, etc., from the “industry standard” in modeling described in this piece, which is represented by the never-ending stream of 5’10” size 0 (and still manipulated) images of model bodies. We have no doubt a woman can be that size and healthy, but the vast majority of women wouldn’t be able to get to that size at that height and be healthy — even though it is upheld as the health and fitness appearance ideal. The commenter was asking our opinion on petite style bloggers who are still a size 0, and we were trying to express the idea that the “size 0” isn’t really the problem, it’s the focus on size — period. Sorry for the terrible word choice. These replies are sometimes hastily written and that one certainly didn’t convey the message we strive to promote.

      • Anonymous

        And if you’re a healthy 5 feet size 12 or 14, own it and love it.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined12-05-2011

      Krishnabrodhi, I have to stand up for my article here! You say I ask people to attack VS instead of getting to the root of the insecurities VS is feeding on. But the very point to my article is exposing what VS is feeding on! One of the first lines in this whole post said “Friends, Beauty Redefined stands behind a solid truth: You are capable of much more than being looked at. And when the most powerful companies in the world profit off of teaching you that your body – specifically your enhanced, bound, lotioned, glittered, posed, surgically and digitally altered parts of your body – are your only source of “empowerment,” they are lying to you. When you find out the truth about your body, you learn the truth about your power, your beauty, and where your happiness can be found.” And THAT is what Beauty Redefined stands behind. Our posts are designed to empower women and girls in ways that help them recognize messages that hurt them or stunt their progress in all the awesome ways that really count and then move on to doing those things. Media literacy isn’t about attacking media – these massive institutions aren’t going anywhere! But this is a political struggle for every individual female, and arming ourselves with more knowledge about the inescapable messages around us is a great step to getting to the root of our insecurities and hang-ups that hold us back from being and doing all we want to be and do. :)

  22. Kara

    …Seriously? I find this negative point of view on Victoria’s secret to be a bit dramatic and seriously overlooking the important things about sex. Why don’t you focus more on finding a partner who won’t objectify you, rather than agonize over the effect your underwear will have on him?? A good man will appreciate the effort, but in the end, he’ll be into it because he wants you for you, not because of your underwear. So, whether a woman wants to wear briefs or a thong really shouldn’t be the issue at hand.

  23. Alison

    The problem is the fact that Victoria’s Secret has a fashion show on primetime tv, commercials, advertisements, websites, cell phone applications and many other things that are soft core pornography.

  24. SPE

    What?! You mean VS not only has terrible customer service but ALSO objectifies women?! No wonder I shop at Intimacy! :)

    Thanks for this wonderfully written article, I look forward to adding this to my daily reading list.

  25. Alfie

    V.S. was started in 1977 not 1963…

  26. kalyn

    I am glad someone is speaking up. I’m sick of walking into the mall and seeing store window size pictures of women in lingerie. Not to mention the mail I get consistently. I tried to have the mailings stop but they keep coming. I’ve had two children and stretch marks, and I look like a normal woman…but somehow feel humiliated when my husband is with me and is subjected to seeing things like that. If the company was really for women, you would think they would show normal looking women, not barbie dolls. Victoria Secret has never empowered me, or any woman I know, but instead makes you feel like you need to starve yourself, get surgery and lather on oil, or stay at home forever. lol

  27. kalyn

    oh, and anyone that says “vs is not responsible for how someone feels about themselves” is WRONG. Sorry hun but when someone puts life size photos of a woman with a perfect body, and then it shows up in your mail box, pops up on TV etc….they are directly responsible. Do you think that if every woman had class and didn’t show her body off like a two bit whore, that women would be stronger and happier? I do. We had to cancel our cable service due to the fact that burger commercials even show women in tiny bathing suits eating burgers. That’s sick. I am tired of naked women being shown everywhere just to get things sold. But then again the company wouldn’t make so much money if it didn’t snowball a bunch of women into thinking that their product is great (even though the panties fall apart too easy) Women need to stop being ignorant and seeing what’s really going on in the media and that it’s not only responsible for the eating disorders and women feeling they aren’t good enough, but degrading our gender and questioning our intelligence against men. No wonder men don’t truly respect women in the work place. Women get paid less for the same jobs men do. We have to stop saying we are as smart as men and start showing it, firstly by making them work to get the eye candy, instead of flaunting ourselves or screwing our way to the top.

    • Danielle

      Now wait a gosh darn minute here. Everyone should be accountable for their own emotions, their own self confidence and their own problems with self worth. This is like saying if someone sends you a gun in the mail then it’s their responsibility if you ultimately shoot someone. We all choose our actions and reactions and should be held responsible for that. Victoria Secret may be responsible for sending out the image, they might even be responsible for creating the brand and the media representations but only the individuals taking in the media can be accountable for how images and representations affect them emotionally and physically.
      Secondly, women taking their clothes off to sell things is a direct response to the fact that SEX SELLS. Blame individual buying behavior of the consumer not the companies. If sex stops selling things or representations and subtle sexual innuendo stopped selling things women wouldn’t be dressed up as “two bit whores” which is kind of contradictory since they are selling bras and panties and therefore can’t model them while wearing them.
      Thirdly, why do you think it’s OK to call another woman a whore? Is that not the type of crude language we as women should be against? We should try to empower other women rather than belittling them. You say in one breath that a woman that is probably making good money is a whore and in the next that we should be empowering ourselves. How can we do that when you’re using such oppressive language against your own gender?

      • Danielle

        without wearing clothes* ugh my bad.

    • Carly

      “Sorry hun but when someone puts life size photos of a woman with a perfect body, and then it shows up in your mail box, pops up on TV etc….they are directly responsible.”

      “Women need to stop being ignorant and seeing what’s really going on in the media and that it’s not only responsible for the eating disorders and women feeling they aren’t good enough, but degrading our gender and questioning our intelligence against men”

      You contradict yourself here. First you say that the media is responsible for our feelings because it is always there, and then you say that women need to see what is going on in the media?

    • Liv

      I wish they showed hot naked men eating a hot dog… That isn’t sexest is it?

      PS it could be worse… it could be a naked woman holding a cat while eating a taco… ha (I should have been an advertising…) Just kidding…

    • haveaniceday

      Kayln Besides the fact that your comment is cruel and full of hate towards women who are you to say who is normal and who is not.

      “I’ve had two children and stretch marks, and I look like a normal woman…. If the company was really for women, you would think they would show normal looking women”

      Pardon me my mother is 52 years old and a mother of two she has a rockin’ body and very little stretch marks with a pretty face, part of it is genetics the other part is she eats well and takes care of herself (not because it concerns her looks but because she likes feeling healthy). The only reason I am making this comparison is because everybody is more similar than you think even if they don’t look similar on the outside. My mother is not a model, shes not rich and disagrees with plastic surgery and she doesn’t obsess about her looks. She’s a stressed out mother of older daughters who gives endless love and support to her children whose worry and empathy have given several gray hairs, seems like a pretty normal person to me. In your eyes what makes someone normal, is it if they look just like you? Just because someone doesn’t look like you doesn’t mean they’re abnormal. I have stretch marks galore and am not as pretty but I don’t call my mother abnormal and myself normal.

      You are a mother and I’m pretty sure this applies to you too “She’s a stressed out mother who gives endless love and support to her children” “whose worry and empathy will have given several gray hairs”. I’m pretty sure that your husband can see this and finds it admirable. If he chose to marry you its because he truly loves you. Your mean comments probably come from a place of pain but you are more than your stretch marks, although there has got to be at least one physical trait you love about yourself find it and appreciate it. Not to mention all of the positive non-physical traits you surely poses but have or haven’t noticed yet. No matter what we look like we are all scared of not being enough for our loved ones rise above it and learn to appreciate that you have loved ones in the first place. In short be grateful and stop comparing yourself to others it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

    • kuma

      Anorexia and Bulimia are caused by serious mental and emotional issues that often times have nothing to do with looks. Eating disorders often accompany various other things like anxiety disorders, depression, and painful life changes. Unless you’ve actually been through the horrors of eating disorders you yourself or with a family member, you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s even more painful when people throw it in their faces that it must be because their a slave to the media and just want to be thinner. It’s so bad that many people don’t even consider it a mental illness at all and judge it as a disgusting vainglorious habit that people can stop anytime but just don’t want to. It’s a horrible stereotype that needs to end. Those airbrushed photographs might be the trigger for the onset of an eating disorder , but the disorder was already bubbling and brewing just waiting for the opportunity to rise, something like a divorce could have easily made it come about. The treatment is therapy not bashing VS. Stop the stigmas and be compassionate.

      • kuma

        In regards to “Women need to stop being ignorant and seeing what’s really going on in the media and that it’s not only responsible for the eating disorders and women feeling they aren’t good enough”

  28. Bethany

    I don’t even go to the mall anymore because I got so tired of seeing those life size pictures of the VS models. I just felt like crap every time I walked by that store. I’m a size two and many people would say that I fit those ideals, but gosh, I just felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt as though I needed to go tanning, get a new haircut, work-out more, make sure my make-up was perfect, etc. The list goes on and on.

  29. Cara

    When talking to my husband about porn, and about his first exposures and what things he used to fire up his thoughts about women, Victoria’s Secret comes up. It was THE magazine. His mom got it in the mail, and he’d quietly sneak it from the mailbox or trash when she was done with it and use it as porn. Like porn, it affected the way he saw women (as eye-candy) and like porn it was addicting. The women in the magazine were nothing but showing off the lingerie in suggestive manners, they weren’t someone’s daughter, sister, mother… they were something to jerk off to.

    If that’s women empowerment then we have a long way to go.

    • Rachel

      Cara… nothing will ever stop the hormones in 13-15 year old boys.. If that is what you are suggesting, it is a losing battle.

  30. Alison Moore Smith
    Alison Moore Smith04-27-2012

    Thank you thank you thank you! I’m sharing this on Facebook, I’ll be posting on one of my blogs, and this will go to my (four) daughters!

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined04-30-2012

      Wonderful! Thank you, Alison! Thanks for being such a positive force for good for your daughters and your readers!

  31. Katie

    I can’t even wear Victoria’s Secret bras because the only size they have in AA (which they don’t even carry in some VS stores) is that ridiculous “adds 2 cup sizes” bra.

  32. Meghan

    I feel Katie’s pain but in the opposite direction. I was told by a Victoria’s Secret clerk that they highest size they carry in the stores in my area is a 38DD. I am 42DD which is a common size if you are a DD. I don’t understand why a store that only sells lingerie has a smaller size range than superstores.

  33. Adrianna

    I completely agree. VS promotes the objectification of womens’ bodies. Our bodies, and our lingerie shouldn’t be seen as strictly sexual. There are other lingerie brands, like the wonderful Curvy Kate that portray women in a positive manner and truly empower us.

    In the D+ blogging community, there are many stories shared about VS and their incompetent bra fittings, and how they make anybody outside of their very limited size range feel bad about their bodies.

    There are brands like Panache, Curvy Kate, and Bravissimo that carry bras all the way to a K and L cup, with bands that start at 28, not 32. With their $5 billion, making only four band sizes and 5 cup sizes is ridiculous for a store that SPECIALIZES in lingerie.

    Also, I just discovered this blog, and it’s definitely the kind of positive, empowering blog I’ve been looking for for a while now. As someone who struggles with self-esteem, I’d like to say thank you for your efforts.

  34. June

    What a great post! I have some MAJOR issues with Victoria’s Secret but I come at it from a bit different angle. I was a very full-busted teen (and am still a very full-busted adult who wears a 28J bra even though I wear a size 4 pants). I’ve tried going to Victoria’s Secret in the past (before I knew more about bra sizing) and basically they treated me look I was too fat and told me to shop at Lane Bryant instead (which coincidentally doesn’t carry my size either because I have a very small underbust).

    Basically, Victoria’s Secret perpetuates self-hatred in large busted teens (and adults but I struggled with this most as a teen) because we can never live up to what we’re told is society’s ideal of “beauty”. Their sizing methods are absolutely horrendous, which just bring pain to full-busted women and tries to force them into sizes that are very unsupportive. I wrote a rant here: because I just can’t stand how many teens have to deal with feeling they aren’t living up to VS’s advertising.

    On the other hand, I’m curious to know if you’ve heard of some other companies, which I really do believe get it right. Curvy Kate is one of them. They hold modeling contests every year and allow every day women have a chance of modeling their brand (there are no age, size etc limits beyond being older than 18 and wearing a D+ cup). Last year’s UK winner was 30 and a UK size 14 or 16 (can’t remember off the top of my head…). Another great brand is Ewa Michalak and I really think this: promotional picture says it all.

  35. Caitlin

    I am always alarmed whenever people turn to consumption as a means of empowerment. I feel like I see that all the time in our culture, and not only do I find it problematic on a spiritual and psychological level, but also on a geopolitical level, as a lot of the clothing we wear – including clothing made by VS – is made in sweatshop conditions. I hope that people can remember that consumption is not just about ourselves and its affects on our psyche, but also about the people who are involved in making the products by which we define ourselves.

    And that’s your daily dose of quasi-Marxist anti-capitalist critique. :)

    • Caitlin

      *sigh* That should say “effects on our psyche.” That’s what I get for writing when I’ve been awake since 4:30 a.m.

  36. Victoria

    I shop at Victoria’s secret for me. I buy the sexy bras because I like them. Not because I want guys to look at me. They are quality, comfortable bras and I like the way my boobs look in them. It’s not about satisfying anyone but myself. I feel most confident when I look and feel my best. I don’t care how many people wanna tell me that I’m being objectified as a woman or anything of the sort. Yes I will spend 50 bucks on a bra that no one will see, because I like it. I think if a model is comfortable with posing in lingerie, then why not? So what if they pose provocatively? They are in lingerie for crying out loud! Do you want them to pose like little school girls? Also, they are grown women. Get over it. If you don’t feel comfortable with their products and how they are presented, then don’t buy them. But there is nothing wrong with women expressing sexuality and showing their bodies. Women have wanted for so long to be able to be sexually free and not be judged, but there’s always the ones who act stupid and have a heart attack when a woman looks or does something provocative. If you are gonna be a feminist then be a feminist. Don’t bash companies or people that make products that make women feel confident and sexy. I want to have the right to look and feel sexy for me. People shouldn’t be telling me that I need to hide my body because if I don’t, I’m being objectified. I would rather feel sexy and good about myself than frumpy, insecure, and restricted. I am a woman. I am powerful, confident, and I’m smart enough to know that a bra and sexy panty doesn’t make the woman. You should give women more credit. Believe it or not, we’re actually REALLY SMART!

    • Shazia Hasan
      Shazia Hasan08-16-2012


    • lee

      no you’re not

    • Lydia

      If it’s truly ONLY FOR YOU, would you still wear the lingerie if there was no one else on Earth? Or in the complete and utter privacy of your own home?

    • Leni

      I totally agree! A VS just opened recently in my town and I went to get fitted for some new bras ( it has been extremely difficult to get fitted at a dept store here as they do not have anyone in lingerie to do fittings). They are the first bras I have had since having children that look and feel right for me. Having a well fitting bra has been so nice and I am very happy with my purchase. Perhaps most of the other women don’t have the same issue finding the right bras, but I am so grateful to have a lingerie store in my area that meets my needs. I do find it a bit funny at all the women offended by their “sexy” lingerie since they also offer some very decent “everyday” t-shirt type bras which is all I buy because I need whatever I have to work with tshirts and work uniforms.

  37. Wendi

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by how prudish some of the comments on this article are, seeing as how this is a feminist website.

    I agree with the original statement of the article. I have dealt with, and am still dealing with, extreme body image issues- low self-esteem, eating disorders, etc. In fact, I remember the first time I ever realized just how ‘ugly’ I am was when I came across a photo of Adriana Lima (a Victoria’s Secret angel, for any who might not know) in a teen magazine. The article in the magazine was for ‘guys to improve their game’, and the caption on the photo said, “Guys, you may not be able to get someone like Adriana Lima, but these tips will help you with your love life!” Or something like that. Anyway, ever since then, I have anxiously awaited every Victoria’s Secret catalogue and fashion show for the sole purpose of feeding my insecurities. I did find it rather strange- VS’s method of selling lingerie for women is by taking the most gorgeous women in the world, and photoshopping them to make them even MORE perfect. I never really considered that they were objectifying women necessarily…the marketing tactic is, I suppose, convincing women that if they buy VS lingerie, they too will be as gorgeous as the angels.

    Not that I was exactly oblivious to the fact that they also want to imply to men that if they buy this lingerie for their girlfriends, their ‘normal’ girlfriend will become a total bombshell. Honestly, I couldn’t even count the number of times I went through a VS catalogue with my guy friends and discussed which of the angels was the most beautiful.

    I guess I can understand some of the comments here saying that lingerie brings ‘porn into marriages and bedrooms’ and whatnot…..that’s quite an old fashioned way of looking at it, but I can understand it. I do feel sexy and empowered and good about myself when I put on some new lingerie for my boyfriend and he enjoys it. I realize that that might be a bad thing, that I take my sense of empowerment from consumption.

  38. Steve

    Coming from a “devils advocate” position, if someone really wanted to hurt and degrade women, one of the most effective means would be to somehow convince women that Sadomasochism, porn, and unhealthy attitudes and beliefs regarding sexual identity are “good” and “liberating”. True, it was wicked men who have initially tried to “normalize” the objectification of girls & women.

    However, history has shown us that men cannot usually do everything without the help of women. Lewd men in the entertainment and modeling industry have very shrewdly created a realm where younger girls, especially, are convinced that a woman’s power or “femininity” is derived from her sex appeal and certain (often exaggerated or photo-shopped) body parts. However, this type of femininity is faux.

    Does a woman really get her femininity and power from a piece of uncomfortable Victoria’s Secret lingerie’ designed to titillate men with the words “open me up” stitched on the crotch? Women are not pieces of meat made just to be lusted after. However, those women who have been led astray by the dark, craftily devised lies of so called “sex positive feminism” are actually giving evil men what they always wanted – Devalued and unhealthy women and boys who grow up to never see the true worth of a woman as a whole person.

    Women are more than just the sum of their parts. Sadly, some girls and women are inadvertently contributing to their own exploitation…Those who really do wish to dehumanize and exploit women must be overwhelmed by their help. When this happens the “devil” must be jumping up and down with glee. I hope there are others out there who recognize the danger posed to both our young girls and boys and will teach them about the inherent value and power both girls and boys posses as a complete person.

    • Carly

      Steve, have you ever worn VS panties? You find them uncomfortable? Interesting.
      Maybe the thongs are uncomfortable, I’m not sure, I don’t particularly like thongs in general. Haven’t found a comfortable one anywhere. But all of the panties I own from Victoria’s Secret are some of my most comfortable. The bras too, whenever I buy a bra from somewhere else it falls apart in maybe ten washes, but my vs bras last years.
      Also, when have you ever seen a pair of Victoria’s Secret panties with the words ‘open me up’ on the crotch?

    • Elizabeth

      How do you account for kinks? Some women truly get off on S/M as either the dominant or subordinate partner. I know it is feminist-incorrect to affirm a woman’s desire to be subordinated by her partner, but that’s just how a lot of women get off – they can’t help it. Why should we deny them their orgasms?

  39. Mandy

    I have been saying this about Victoria’s Secret for years!!! I used to work in an upscale mall in Tampa, Florida in a science store surrounded by VS and several other stores shopped exclusively by women. The husbands always wandered into our store and we had the most interesting conversations! I was surprised by how many men wished their wives would spend less time at the salon and the stores. Thanks you for this article and this website. This is such an important coversation. I am raising 4 girls and feel like I’m constantly fighting back against the overt sexuality that is already bombarding them.

  40. Teresa

    A couple of comments (not having read the whole discussion above, but a good chunk of it):
    I really like what Katie said, about being frustrated as a small-chested woman. I don’t buy bras at Victoria’s Secret because 1) they don’t make non-underwire bras and I hate underwire and 2) all the bras that fit me (measure at a 36 AAA, professionally fitted as 34 B/C) assume that I want to add two cup sizes. I don’t. I like the size my breasts are, and I resent the implication that I can’t possibly be happy with my body unless I’m a size D! Also, I buy my clothes to fit MY BODY, not artificial breasts I stick on top of my breasts. If somebody wants to enhance their bosom that way, fine, but have options available for those of us who DON’T want to.

    There’s another line of discussion happening here that I wanted to speak to: that of the purportedly pornographic images Victoria’s Secret displays. I don’t look at the catalogues, so I can’t speak to what these images actually look like, but it seems to me that there’s a fine line between being happy with our bodies and baring them unashamedly, and photoshopped models who pose in manners which highly suggest sexual behaviour. Sex is good and natural, of course, but it’s intended to be a private matter, imho. While I have no issue with models posing in their underwear, I WOULD have an issue with models posing in their underwear in a manner which encouraged you to view them in a sexual way and have sexual fantasies about them. From what I’ve read, these women don’t pose in ways that suggest they are reveling in their bodies with all their perfections and imperfections and abilities and disabilities – it sounds like they’re posing in ways which say “I’m a sex object, please use me for your fantasies”. It’s a fine line though, and tricky.

  41. scabs

    Just don’t wear a bra. I say let’s boycott.

  42. Stacy

    Last year they had a lot of VS commericials during the NFL games on Thanksgiving day. It was terrible that my entire family was subjected to porn. I also hate how yahoo, msn, aol, etc will have a headline article about the fashion show along with pictures and videos. Most of the comments from men just talk about how they want to screw the models, etc. Yeah, that’s really empowerment, VS! I saw a headline article on msn last week that said look how these models had babies and then headed back to the runaway, check out their post-body transformations. Give me a break!

    • Another skinny flat chested girl
      Another skinny flat chested girl02-12-2014

      I feel the same way. When reading the males’ comments about VS articles, I lost all the hope in men because I know those are their honest opinions (when no girlfriends/wives are watching!)

  43. Julianne

    I totally get the point here, about how the ads are kinda ridiculous, but if I buy VS and I feel beautiful, isn’t that the point? (not that I need fancy underwear to feel pretty)

  44. Andra

    I totally agree. I see the poster advertisement ideas but why isn’t anything being done to ban VS commercials? They are practically borderline pornography and I can’t find much controversy over them.

    • Stacy

      Organizations and hundreds of people (including myself) have emailed VS in order to ban their fashion show and commercials, but it hasn’t been successful, yet. VS simply doesn’t care if people are offended by their messages especially since they are making millions. I’ve noticed that if you target the sponsors of the fashion show and have hundreds of people send a tailored emailed (from or something similar) it could definitely be successful. This is how a few companies were able to get the Playboy Club on NBC removed, MTV Skins, and many other shows.

      The other person mentioned missrepresentative, and I’m really surprised that no one from missrep mentioned the the negative effects of the fashion show on their blog, twitter page or facebook page.

      • liv

        Censorship does not create change… it is only a path to control… education and opportunity creates change… censorship and control only open up paths to benefit the people who want control and power… You’re misguided in your belief that censorship is the way… I doubt you wrote to stop the Twilight films from being made…

  45. Katy B.
    Katy B.12-05-2012

    Twitter is also a great place to express your disgust at these companies. Just this morning I received an annoying email from @VictoriasSecret & responded via Twitter, “Why does the latest PJ ad have the model’s top open? Is it a PJ, bra or skin ad?”

    I try to use #notbuyingit & #MissRep tags and copy them to @EverydaySexism as well. Individual action may not have the overwhelming effect we wish, but I am certainly going to express my disdain to them. Otherwise, I feel complicit.

  46. Lisa dollar
    Lisa dollar12-12-2012

    What is your source for VS’s mission statement that says “empower women”? I wanted to find it to share with someone but the two I found did not use that phrase. One was for their parent company and the other was for VS.

  47. veritas

    I’d like to make a point that appears to have been largely overlooked. Research has proven that soft porn (such as VS material or other sexually suggestive material) is a Pandora’s box that over time leads consistent viewers/users to pursue increasingly hard porn. Research also proves that hard porn addiction leads users to increasingly sexually depraved acts, namely seeking out sexually trafficked women and children. Women aside (as horrible as that is!), the trafficking of children is an increasingly massive crime. The staff of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children viewed 10.5 MILLION images of child pornography in 2009. The DOJ reports that 300, 000 American children are at risk of sexual exploitation every year and the average age at which a child enters the sex trafficking world is 12. Globally, UNICEF estimates that there are 1.2 MILLION child sex trafficking victims and the buying and selling of their bodies generates a 12 BILLION dollar profit yearly. (This information comes from Stop Child Trafficking Now; more information is available at Polaris Project and Children of the Night, among many other sites.)
    We are deeply deceived if we believe that the sexual objectification of ANYONE on ANY level is OK, in public or in the confines of our own bedrooms. No, I am not directly accusing VS of directly promoting sex trafficking. I *am* saying that its wares and those who view them are fueling a culture that is increasingly immune to the violation of, and, at worst, definitively opposed to basic human dignity. As a woman, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, an inner-city camp counselor, and a Christian, I have a SERIOUS problem with organizations that promote sexual objectification. This is about far more than comfortable, long-lasting underwear or feeling sexy in the bedroom. You don’t have to be a Christian/religious person to understand that it’s about seeking justice and truth in a culture that values money and the physical body above relationship, human dignity, and the human soul.

  48. Transluzent

    thank you so much for this article and essay. i have read it all and i am going to cite you in my seminar paper about how victoria’s secret decontextualizes and sexualizes yoga clothing…. x

  49. Sarah

    I completely and utterly disagree with this post. I’m a feminist liberal who spends most of her life arguing against conservative and often sexist dogma consisting of: cliches and lines. Unexplained dogma. Sadly, this article was full of dogma and cliches and shed no real intellectual light on any issues. “Women in lingerie is objectifying.” REALLY? I never heard that one before. And actually it’s completely false.

    The main problem with VS, is the same as all other advertising, it’s lies, you will not become sexier nor more empowered through buying their products. That is something from the inside.
    As for promoting sex appeal? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; not is it objectifying. The vast majority of those who tune into the VS shows are WOMEN. The likes of Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr ARE empowering to women. They have amazing personalities; they promote good self-care and nutrition NOT promiscuity. Admiring female beauty is the same as admiring male strength. Both these assets have been worshipped since the dawn of time as they are necessary signs of fertility for human reproduction. The perversion did not come in the form of naked women; but rather from the Abrahamic faiths which stated that the female body was wrong and sinful. Most of the most empowering cultures to women (i.e. Paganism) worshipped the female body. It’s not VS which made thinness an ideal – in fact VS models are curvier than most others.

    There is nothing wrong and indeed it is empowering to be desired by men. The only time it is dis-empowering is when it is your PRIMARY desire. But I go to the library to stimulate my mind intellectually and read Nietsche and Aristotle; Marx and Einstein (yes, really) and then to the gym to stimulate my body. This is not just for a man. It makes me feel better about myself; and that I do not need a particular man; because I am an attractive person. It also stimulates endorphin-release and who doesn’t like looking in the mirror at a beautiful reflection? It doesn’t mean that is my only/primary means of fulfillment in life. I have many.

    Physical beauty IS linked to self-confidence and health; and feminists who try to deny that give feminism a bad name; resort to tired and unintellectually inspiring cliches and to be quite frank: come across as physically unattractive women who resent attractive women. There is nothing more misogynistic than that.

    All the VS angels I have watched seem like genuinely decent people; independent and intelligent, which can be said for a lot of self-identified feminist women.

    We need to unite against the REAL problems women face; such as hardcore pornography where women are co-erced into unwanted sexual acts; unequal pay scales; lack of women in leadership and many of the atrocities committed against women around the world.

    These are the actual problems to be addressed. I would rather seek an amendment banning violence porn than VS! At least that would do some GOOD in the world.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined02-12-2013

      While I try not to respond to such argumentative posts, it’s hard for me to resist not combatting the age-old comment that I must be “a physically unattractive woman who resents attractive women.” Ha ha! As a feminist yourself, you must know that minimizing me to my body and disregarding my message is one of the most anti-feminist things you can do. And this paper won “top paper” in a huge national conference, so please don’t make such demeaning statements about the quality of the entries. The other entries were fantastic. I never claimed “women in lingerie are objectifying,” which is a statement that doesn’t even make sense. And surely you can’t really believe the VS models are promoting “good self care and nutrition.” Read up on the extreme, unhealthy lengths they resort to to get ready for the VS fashion show, including weeks without solid foods and days without even having water. Please read the post. The post that will tell you nothing about resenting sexuality, beautiful women, or beauty itself. The post that will explain a sinister trend that teaches women their value lies in their sexual appeal above all else. Thanks for reading!

    • Lydia

      “There is nothing wrong and indeed it is empowering to be desired by men.”

      Or uh, women. We’re not all straight.

      For one thing, there’s nothing empowering about furthering false beauty ideals by being photoshopped in a magazine. You make it sound like women owe the world beauty. I find it truly empowering when human beings in general care less about their looks. Who is it empowering, if you’re desired? It’s not making you a more powerful person. It might boost your ego but that isn’t synonymous. People getting ahead because of their looks is actually harmful to those who refuse to play the game or can’t.

      I find it unfortunate that humans are such shallow creatures (reading Survival of the Prettiest and reading about how “ugly” babies are more likely to be abused and neglected was horrifying but not surprising). It truly sickens me and I wish appearance didn’t matter at all. Psychologically speaking, you’re right, but it doesn’t change the fact that the beauty standard is harmful and that being raised to look presentable for men (for instance, fattening farms in third world countries or even women walking around in heels that pain them for aesthetics alone) is not empowering.

    • haveaniceday

      Sarah keep doing what you’re doing you obviously want to better the world for women and I appreciate that. Your status as a feminist isn’t jeopardized because you disagree with this obviously biased paper turned post, indeed there are more pressing issues than banning a company because they feature women who are “hotter” than you (not saying thats what the article is about but women who agree with it seem to take it that way). If you really transcended above looks then you really would not give two shits about it. About only feeling like your worth your sex appeal i’ve never felt like that shopping at VS the only thing I feel is that their bras and undies are soft and comfortable and fit me fine. I don’t wear it to feel sexier I wear it for comfort. Unlike most women I love wearing a bra I feel the support in my back, I cant stand the feeling of not wearing a bra.

  50. Sarah

    And the author BEGINS the article so gleefully with *I, Lexie, am engaged* but does not mention any of the true problems facing women in the world, such as genital mutilation or rape in countries like India or South Africa?

    It seems more like she resents sexuality and being compared to models; than in doing anything truly productive to aid the struggle for women’s rights cross-culturally.

    Miranda Kerr has produced an excellent book for women about treasuring yourself and your body; not being jealous of and learning to treasure other women and learning to love your body even when you’re a few pounds overweight.

    She is also a shrewd business woman whose products are environmentally sound.

    She rarely mentions Orlando Bloom in interviews; she is a fully fledged individual in her own right. Her feminist credentials are much more sound than the authors’ in my opinion, but I doubt the author has bothered to do any research on what the ethos of the brand actually is.

    Of course, the real criticism of VS as I mentioned above is the Marxist aspect – their clothing is probably manufactured in sweatshops and ALL advertising is misleading. Of course the garments of clothing won’t empower you, but that’s a different issue. But it’s MESSAGE, which is what we’re debating here, is not dis empowering.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined02-12-2013

      Wow, Sarah! Ha ha! Please read the post *I, Lexie, wrote!* When you mock the author of a post, claim I haven’t “bothered to do any research on the brand,” and tell me I resent being compared to models, you’re really doing everyone reading your comment a disservice. This post was most definitely about the ethos of the VS brand. The whole post. Just because I didn’t address female genital mutilation or rape doesn’t mean I am not contributing good to a world that needs it. Please re-read the post and know I’m actually fighting on your behalf, not against you!

  51. Sarah

    To veritas, 95% of men admit to masturbating, I do not think VS is what made this happen. Our culture IS over-saturated with sex. But sex in and of itself is not bad. The problem is that there is not enough promotion of other ideals than physical health and attractiveness.

    The problem is we have no intellectual role models for women; we need to encourage more women into business and as women, stop putting other women down. We need to END this culture of beautiful women v. intellectual women. I’d love to see a show on science or nutrition fronted by Doutzen Kroes or Miranda Kerr.

    P.S. As a Christian, I think you will find your religion far more dis empowering to women than VS is. You might wanna read some of the scripture by St. Paul that seeks to tell us we can never teach or usurp authority over a man; and must cover our heads to signify our inferiority to men. READ your Bible, it’s all in there.

  52. Sarah

    P.S. I’m a 20 year old virgin, who also will pay money to enhance my physical attractiveness (but not VS stuff, I’m not too into the products TBH!). It makes me feel good about me.

    But equally, what equally makes me feel good about me is that I am an intelligent, altruistic, decent person, strong and optimistic, funny and a straight A student.

    *I* like ME. And that is the most empowering thing of all. The desire to want to look sexy is a natural human desire and it does release feel-good pheromones in both men and women. Are we now going to ban men from wanting to excel on the football field to attract women? That’s crazy.

    The thing I need to watch is that I do not go out of my way to gain male desire or approval and I’m pretty satisfied of my ability to do this.

  53. Danielle

    I stopped reading the comments waaaay up there, simply because I don’t have time to continue, but from what I saw the bulk of the concerns are based on how VS ads mess with our perception of what sex should be, or what should be considered sexy. I just wanted to say that my issue with the whole in-your-face-lingerie-model thing is self esteem. Those images simply make me feel inferior, bottom line. You could certainly argue that that’s my problem, and it is, but it’s one that’s hard to solve when it’s being challenged every time I turn around. I look at the sky high billboards and think ‘I would never look like that’ and then, to some extent, ‘if I don’t look like that in lingerie, I will not look sexy’. That’s not true as far as my husband is concerned, of course- he’d think I was gorgeous in socks and a burlap sack. But what I’m saying is, not being of model body type myself, I certainly don’t look at those pictures and feel anything close to ’empowered’. I feel like a not-hot-enough slob. And that’s coming from an intelligent woman who knows better than to be so easily influenced. I’m a freaking broken record when I say this, but I really just hope there will come a day, in my 13 year old daughter’s lifetime, at least, when body shape is not a determining factor in beauty. Fingers crossed!

  54. rose

    I rarely leave any comments on things, but reading through all these comments particularly the last comment by the young lady named Sarah, really made me stop and think what one of the real problems we as women face…and it’s other women. The fact that one can’t have a different opinion without being attacked , generalized, and be labeled by perfect strangers. All this long thread that has spanned years seems to me like one big miscommunication and the inability to think about other women. I read a lot of comments in which because a women feels 100% great with her sexuality, then the topic of this paper concerning VS and the subtle and not so subtle messages must bull full of poop and/or written by a woman who so clearly must hate her body and hate “sexy” women. And that clearly is not the case. The point of this article is to make us all aware that many of these companies that marketed as women “empowerment” are many times run by men who like a lot of women on here, have accepted the idea of sex sells as: the norm, human nature, there is nothing wrong with it. I believe the point of this article is to get us as women to really reflect on what sexuality is and whose definition we are accepting as our own doctrine. I saw many women who did not really help many of us who struggle with our own sexuality and how it fits with out own morals and values. I would have rather seen women let us in on the secret and enlighten the rest of us “prudes” ; let us in on the big secret how you have gone through life unscathed by the media’s bombardment of what beauty is. I saw a lot of blaming the victims, all the girls and women who are not as strong as the rest of you, who don’t have role models to tell them better. Who really believe that looking like a VS angel is the only definition of beauty and sexy. I think we can all agree we all want to make this world a better place for girls and women. But if just reading this thread is a glimpse of how women treat each other, God help us all.

    • Grackle

      Internalized misogyny is a terrible thing, and the natural consequence of living in a society that teaches women that they’re inferior to men but that other women are the enemy.

      • This Girl
        This Girl05-23-2013

        It’s true. Sadly, women are the enemy because they feel they are more closer to perfection than other women (and therefore better, better looking, more successful, etc). How do they come to this conclusion? They compare themselves to models and strive to be tanner, skinner and wear revealing clothing. Women naturally compare ourselves to other women. It’s hardwired into our brains. Society will always be flawed. The only thing we can change is the appearance of what is considered “universally beautiful”. Unfortunately, corporations (like VS) now tell us what “universally beautiful” looks like.

  55. Leslie

    Hi, I’m 16, and I would just like to say that I’m not a big fan of this.
    Girls my age want one thing. to look and feel sexy. We love VS because it does just that.
    If you don’t want your child to dress in that fine. but just remember that hormones come quick, and your child is eventually going to want to dress like the models. and if you don’t let them, they’ll just go behind your back and do it. trust me, I’ve seen it happen.

    In todays society “Healthy sexuality” and “We are more than what we look like” gets us no where.
    SO I don’t know about you, but every day I wish that VS were my closet. It’s one of the only places I shop at.

  56. andrea hale
    andrea hale03-26-2013

    I chose to stop shopping at VS when I got married in 2006. It was one night my husband and I were sitting watching television and I was in my jammies and had my retainer in with a high, messy pony tail and all of a sudden there was a very sexy (and somewhat pornographic) commercial that came on. “I’m sure I’m super sexy now, huh?!” I looked over and said. haha It made me feel like I was just blah (in pajamas or not). It’s hard to “live up to” what the world’s perception of sexy is….even as adults that are in happy marriages. How do we expect our young daughters to not feel the same way?
    Recently my 6 year old son and I were Children’s Place (which is right across from VS at our mall… I HATE!) and I saw him looking away. I was so proud of him that he was doing what we’ve taught him to do when he sees inappropriate images! It’s just so sad that it even gets the attention of a kindergartner! He later asked me why the stores choose to put those types of magazines out.. good question! It’s hard to explain that that’s what sells. The world is getting worse as these behaviors are accepted. How are we supposed to raise strong, confident women when they’re trying to be sexy at a young age to follow what the world is doing. That’s just going to increase the rate of teen sex and teen parents, in my opinion. And how are we to raise good, loving fathers in world where pornography is everywhere? It’s hard to escape, and not every little boy chooses to look away or has the discipline to…. which can then pose the problem of addiction. It’s proven that men with pornography addictions don’t have as much respect for women (belittling, cheating, abusing etc). I wish there was a way to protect our youth and stop the problem, but I know that’s not realistic. I guess the biggest thing we can do is teach them and not support those companies!

  57. swan

    I think all of this is coming from a place much deeper and rooted (pardon the pun) in reproduction and the continuation of a healthy, attractive species.

    Have you noticed how much more good looking women are than they were say 100 years ago? As our population increases females have to compete more for healthy males, and healthy males are more selective about the type of woman they reproduce with.

    So we have a state of competition. This means that the competition starts earlier in life, in the teens. It is marketed to us through fashion as “empowerment” and “boldness”, and probably by men. Its all about reproductive competition, to get females competing with each other to eliminate weaker reproductive females.

    It doesnt matter how much we crap on about how theer should come atime where women are not going to be judged on beauty. It is simply NEVER going to happen, as in turn this will jeopardise healthy reproduction. Women are always going to be judged and critiqued on their looks, and in fact it is only going to increase in the coming decades. We are biologically programmed to continue our own species, and with more beauty comes more choice for males, and thus, an even more beautiful human species.

    I am a female, and would consider myself a *feminist*, and i am as annoyed as anyone at how society is focused on looks ,and how we are made to feel bad about our appearance. But i just don’t think we can stop it because it is controlled by something bigger than us, our innate primal drive to create a healthy and beautiful human race.

  58. This Girl
    This Girl05-23-2013

    So the solution is to purchase the overpriced mini frames and stickers offered by this site?!

    • liv

      See… it’s all about money… no matter what side you’re on! haha

  59. Claudya Margaretta
    Claudya Margaretta05-24-2013

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this post is about how VS mislead & manipulate people by redefining “bold & empowered” as sexy and wanted by men to boost their selling and profits. So indirectly by redefining that image to sexy, they are manipulating us to get that perfect body by buying their products.

    If you’re in a special occasion like honeymoon or a ‘special’ night in with your partner and decide to look more sexy & naughty to please him intentionally, well you come to the right place. VS is definitely the perfect place to find sexy lingerie to feed you man’s eye. And nothing’s wrong with that.

    But if you’re buying their products just to fit the media definition of “bold & powerful”, then you might be a victim of their manipulating campaign. Don’t let the ads — that is intentionally produced ONLY to boost their selling – affect how you feel about your body. :)

    • liv


  60. Claudya Margaretta
    Claudya Margaretta05-24-2013

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this post is about how VS mislead & manipulate people by redefining “bold & empowered” as sexy and wanted by men to boost their selling and profits. So indirectly by redefining that image to sexy, they are manipulating us to get that perfect body by buying their products.

    If you’re in a special occasion like honeymoon or a ‘special’ night in with your partner and decide to look more sexy & naughty to please him intentionally, well you come to the right place. VS is definitely the perfect place to find sexy lingerie to feed you man’s eye. And nothing’s wrong with that.

    But if you’re buying their products just to fit the media definition of “bold & powerful”, then you might be a victim of their manipulating campaign. Don’t let the ads — that is intentionally produced ONLY to boost their selling – affect how you feel about your body. :)

  61. liv

    I have read this post and all these comments… and while most have good lines, others are riddled with finger pointing and blaming… We cry for freedom, not only as women, but as a nation… yet we denounce any one else having freedom if they do not agree with us… Business is an ugly world… it’s all about money, but before we start saying the problem is the media, or business, or the models or magazine… maybe the problem is really us… because all we do is complain about how something isn’t right or something isn’t fair… and how we are wronged… not one person said they take responsibility for their actions or how they feel… except “I don’t shop there…” with their sneers and noses in the air (even cyber noses can be snooty)… We have become a society that demands freedom on specific terms that only compliment our own personal feelings… none of this is for the betterment of the world or media… if you want to truly get your power back… stop watching television. reading magazine, watching films, shopping… make your won clothes… get off the grid and live completely independently… grow your own food, kill your own animals… Don’t marry if you want or marry if you want… stop assuming everyone is out to get you… because I can tell you VS does not care about you… if you want change you have to be an example… not preach an example while promoting nonacceptance of anyone who disagrees with you… educate and accept… it is the only way to promote change…

  62. Amanda

    This is what VS does… “Victoria’s Secret is credited with single-handedly transforming “America’s conception of lingerie” by pioneering “sexy underwear as fashion”and “lingerie mainstream entertainment.” The societal manifestation is “the increased cultural acceptance of shopping for undies” in the United States”

    Here is why it was started … “Victoria’s Secret was founded by Tufts University and Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus Roy Raymond and his wife Gaye] in San Francisco Ca in 1977.[
    Eight years prior to founding Victoria’s Secret, Raymond had been embarrassed when purchasing lingerie for his wife at a department store. Newsweek in 1982 quoted Raymond in 1981 explaining: “When I tried to buy lingerie for my wife,” he recalls, “I was faced with racks of terry-cloth robes and ugly floral-print nylon nightgowns, and I always had the feeling the department-store saleswomen thought I was an unwelcome intruder.”

    These two facts presented by my favorite online reading source, Wiki, tell you exactly what VS does… and it hasn’t changed a bit… so I really do not think they are lying or hiding… 18 year old girls shop at VS and they dress differently than 25,30,35,40,45,50 year old… to say they market to more than one age is true… to say that a 13 or 14 year old should shop there… No… but then again… They aren’t my daughters and I’ve bought my 14 year old sister bras and panties from there… not ones that say “I dare you…” but I wouldn’t wear that because that isn’t me… Also I hear no one complaining about the shirts at Spencer’s that say things like “I have the pussy so I make the rules…” or “I’m a bitch and you love it…” But those are empowering… right?

    • Grackle

      “Also I hear no one complaining about the shirts at Spencer’s that say things like “I have the pussy so I make the rules…’ or ‘I’m a bitch and you love it…” But those are empowering… right?”

      I have zero idea why that’s relevant to a post about oversexualization of young girls. Also, what are you talking about? People complain about the crap at Spencer’s Gifts literally ALL the time. They have an “I have the pussy so…” shirt AND an “I have the dick so…”, along with “Twinkle twinkle little slut, name one guy you haven’t fucked” and “Fetch me a beer, bitch” and “It’s not you, it’s me–I don’t date girls with tiny tits”, “When I want your opinion, I’ll take my dick out of your mouth” etc, etc.

      So really, what exactly is your point here?

  63. Coral

    I agree, their marketing is totally normalized pornography. I get their catalog in the mail and I have to turn whichever side is less naked up so I don’t feel awkward if my dad sees it lying around in the kitchen, where we leave our mail before we collect it for ourselves.

    As for VS’s claim that their PINK line is marketed to college girls, I don’t buy into it. The models look very youthful and high-school y, with fresh to minimal makeup, wearing girly things and posing with school accessories. How does that NOT appeal to high schoolers? I remember when I was in high school I was already into the PINK line. Not because I wanted to buy sexy underwear to feel accepted or sexy (who was I going to be sexy for, I didn’t even have a boyfriend!) but because the colors, patterns and softness of the fabrics appealed to me.

    I like the products VS sells, like their t-shirt pajamas, cosmetics, PINK notebooks, the dog they sometimes roll out, and the undies. But I don’t wear that stuff to appeal to anyone but myself. I like the bright colors and patterns of the pajamas and the underwear. I like smelling good, having cute notebooks, wearing fun makeup and having little dogs to decorate my room with. I understand the sexist, pornoraphic understones the brand has and the hypocrisy of their message of empowerment, and I reject them. I know there is so much more to me than how cute I look or whatever, but that doesn’t mean I want to stop looking cute. I dress to please my fashion sense and my love of dress-up. I see fashion and makeup as art you live in that’s supposed to enhance your natural beauty, not cover you up or make you into something you’re not.

    As for my boyfriend, he likes what I wear and smell like, but I don’t seek his approval before I buy something or put an outfit on. When we go out shopping I’ll ask for his opinion on stuff to get him involved in the shopping process(the poor guy hates shopping but tolerates it out of love for me) and I’ll consider his opinion on stuff, but I ultimately decide whether I like it or not. I dress well so my boyfriend always likes what I wear anyways, but even if he didn’t I wouldn’t care, it’s my fashion so I’ll dress how I want.

    As a feminist, I feel I have to justify why I like Victoria’s Secret and the PINK brand. I take what I like from the brands, but I don’t listen to their negative messages. When I was in high school and in my early college years, I was still kinda insecure with my body and would sometimes compare myself to the models, as unrealistic as their airbrushed bodies are. But over time and with a strong sense of feminism that grew in me as a college student I learned to accept myself and just be confident. I now exercise regularly to take care of my body. I now see beauty not as being all victoria’s secret-esque and skinny, but as being physically active and eating well. I hope other girls out there learn that beauty comes from taking care of yourself. Again, not to say we can’t not wear pretty underwear and whatnot, but we should understand that those things won’t make us beautiful, acceptance and taking care of ourselves will!

  64. Mel

    I fully back this article. VS’ ethos was accurately and gracefully portrayed. Sorry so many people disagree with you; looks like the advertising is working. Some of these women sound brainwashed. It’s disgusting. To get so defensive over a brand? Really? We are a nation of blind sheep.

  65. peter

    Totally agree, its really shameful what is allowed today, and spoken in the name of “womens empowerment” no less! wow….talk about false advertising! they know men look at this stuff too. Its like those bafoons who think “sex and the city” is about female empowerment. THEY ARE JUST ****! how is that being a “strong woman”? they are objectifying themselves. women in the 50’s and before that used to dress and behave like ladies and thus treated themselves with respect by DRESSING with respect to themselves! no miniskirts, no slut-ifying themselves to be “empowered”. the only one your empowering is the guy with the lasvicious look in this eye as he eyes you like a quarter pound cheeseburger with fries on the side as hes ready to rape you. wake up women!

    • Ashley

      There is so much wrong with what you just said. You’ve implied that if a woman is sexual, she’s not worthy of respect. That a woman’s flesh is something dirty that needs to be covered up, and that rape is about what kind of outfit the victim has on. All of that is just…

      Oh, and guess what? There are people out there….actual people…wait for it, who aren’t attracted to the opposite sex! Sometimes, if I wear a skimpy outfit, it’s because I want a WOMAN, yes someone without a penis, to notice me. Crazy, right? And this might blow your mind a little more…but some of the men who see parts of my body aren’t going to care about them, because they are gay! Or asexual! Or they just aren’t into me! I know, crazy thinking, that all men aren’t attracted to all women and all women don’t desire the sexual attention of all men.

  66. peter

    Also to add, and I am a man so please take it from me, a women doesn’t have to wear super fancy sexualized porny lookingexpensive underwear or bra to impress me. Seriously, why do women think we care a lot about it? sure we make think “oh nice bra” for 2 seconds but then we are eager to REMOVE it so we can really love them and not care about the under clothing. im more concerned with the clothes you wear over it. I prefer women who wear lovely skirts and dresses to the constant jeans and t shirt “guys” wear. we dotn want tomboys, we want a lady, and real woman. dresses and appearance on the outside are more important, especially if your looking to attract a conservative minded guy.

  67. keri

    It troubles me that many of VS models look like they are in the 12-16 year old range – just made up to look older, maybe. In your research,, did you come across any data suggesting these models are actually teens or chosen because they look super young?

  68. romi

    Thankyou for the great article on this thought provoking topic. I also am untertaking media studies at university and am currently researching dominant ideologies that exist in the media today. I find It interresting how womens insecurities generates billions of dollars, with the assistance of clever advertising tactics through the media. Imagine if women started feeling fantastic about themselves, knowing they are much more then looks alone? Fake empires would collapse. Peace to all the sisters.

  69. Ashley

    Some of these comments are confusing to me as a bisexual woman. If I open a VS catalog, and enjoy the pictures of the women in them, am I being sexist towards myself? If I dress up like a maid, because my boyfriend and I both enjoy roleplay, are we being sexist? Am I the only one who wishes catalogs of half naked men were delivered to my mailbox too?

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