In This Story:
- Baylor University
- Connecticut College
- Emory University
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- University of South Florida
- Utica College
Model Candice Swanepoel of South Africa takes to the catwalk wearing a 10 million US dollar Royal Fantasy Bra by Mouawad during the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show had viewers glued to their screens (and gasping at the aptly named $10 million Royal Fantasy Bra) watching models clad in floor-sweeping feathered wings — and little else.
And thousands took to Twitter and Facebook this week to discuss the annual event, but not all the posts were shout-outs to buxom beauties like Adriana Lima or enthusiasm for lacy lingerie.
“Kale, water and air. Kale water and air,” tweeted one user.
“My only tweet about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: I’ve prepped my self-esteem’s drop to negatives so yup #thatshowthatgoes,” another posted.
Researchers at Connecticut College analyzed 977 tweets in response to the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show and found that about one in 10 included negative comments about issues like weight and dieting.
Kaitlin Fung, one of the study’s researchers, says these reactions reflect the influence social comparison has on body image.
“Media messages arouse concerns that we don’t look good as we are, which makes us want to compare ourselves to others,” she says. “The results (of the study) suggest that vulnerable viewers could experience negative emotions and body image concerns and even contemplate engaging in harmful behaviors as a result of watching the show.”
With “real-life Barbies” sashaying across the stage, the show gives both women and men an unrealistic view of what the female body should look like, says Darrel Ambrosini.
The Emory University law student thinks the show is more damaging to women’s self-esteem than other media depictions.
“Although magazines and print catalogues show a similar portrayal of unrealistic-looking beauty, many women justify that by believing that most, if not all, are airbrushed,” the 23-year-old says. “However, with the Victoria’s Secret show, it is hard to deny that these are ‘real’ women.”
Concerned users fought back with posts urging women to remember beauty is more than a size on a clothing label.
A few years ago, a Baylor University student posted , “I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 women than a Victoria’s Secret model,” referring to a Biblical verse that outlines the qualities of a “noble” wife.
The Facebook post went viral, spawning a group called the Live 31 Movement and thousands of comments.
During this year’s event, pajama company Sleepy Jones posted videos and photos of women playing violins and talking about literature accompanied by the hashtag #SmartIsSexy.
These sorts of counterarguments frustrate Lauren Forst. The University of South Florida senior says these reactions demonstrate an unhealthy hatred among women.
“What upsets me most about this show is not what we see in the show or what Victoria’s Secret stands for. It is when women start getting mad at one another because of ‘unrealistic expectations for body weight and image’ and ‘they are fake,’” the 22-year-old says. “Those are women with real feelings just like you. You don’t think getting called fake hurts?”
But with reportedly extreme workout routines and diets forbidding water 12 hours before the event, the models are just too skinny, says Jude Infantini, a recent graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.
“They have a job and a lifestyle that they have to maintain, but at the same time, they have to realize that they’re role models to some people,” the 23-year-old says. “They have to respect that responsibility and set a positive example to those who look up to them.”
Shanell Finney, a senior at New York’s Utica College, says it’s hard to avoid watching the show with every social media site essentially providing a play-by-play. While she enjoys the glamor and glitter, the 21-year-old thinks the event sends a harmful message.
“In all of the one-hour show, I did not see one girl appear to look like me or any average college girl that I know of,” she says. “Are we not beautiful, or are we not what the world wants to see?”
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