Victoria’s Secret only hires super-skinny models — and that’s a problem


The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is returning to New York City Thursday for its annual catwalk-concert mashup. The lingerie brand’s lithe Angels have been teasing images of their demanding workouts and bra fittings as they prep to strut their stuff on the runway, bedecked in sparkly skivvies and gigantic feathered wings that dwarf their fit frames.

The show has been produced for 22 years, and the models who walk have long been considered the pinnacle of beauty. But the sexy stalwart appears to be suffering: Last year’s extravaganza, which was filmed in Shanghai, pulled in less than 5 million viewers, down 32 percent from the year before. And shares in L Brands, the lingerie maker’s parent company, are down more than 40 percent this year. A growing chorus of critics — even an online boycott petition — have pinpointed the reason: Victoria’s Secret is selling a physical ideal that does not appear to represent its customers.

The brand has taken some steps toward showing a diverse group of models on the runway — this year, they’ve cast 19 models of color, including one with visible vitiligo, a condition in which skin loses its pigment in patches. But there’s still one realm of inclusivity they apparently haven’t considered: size.

“There’s a body type and a size type that they believe in. It’s big tits, tiny waist, tall skinny legs,” says a stylist who has worked with the brand. “If they don’t have the body that Ed [Razek, Victoria’s Secret’s senior creative] deems the perfect woman’s body, they will not be in the show.” (Representatives for Victoria’s Secret declined to comment on this article.)

VS models often go to extremes to achieve their physiques. After she gave birth to her second child in 2012, veteran Angel Adriana Lima hit the runway just eight weeks later, after working out four to six hours daily, and consuming a liquid diet. She also ditched water altogether for the last few days to drop even more weight.

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