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Victoria’s Secret rebrand sparks discussion surrounding resurgence of 2000s body standards, body image

Yasmine Rivera
Victoria’s Secret fashion show sparks discussion surrounding the merits of body positivity following a rebranded campaign in September. However, many fans were left disappointed following the brand’s new look.

Following a five year hiatus, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show made a return through a feature-length documentary released Sep. 26. It was the first show since a management change that resulted in a significant rebrand, according to The New York Times.
The show shut down in 2018 following controversies surrounding the owners’ ties to Jeffery Epstein and criticism of a toxic workplace, according to CBC.
The 2023 fashion show faced criticism from fans who faulted the focus on inclusivity, with some critics saying that it lacked the nostalgia that the brand carries.

Eleanor Bonas (’26) said, as a fan of the original show, she was disappointed with the revival.

“I liked the original premise of just bringing it back with more diversity, but I didn’t like how they executed it,” Bonas said.

While she appreciated the attempt to be inclusive, Bonas said the marketing focus on body positivity shouldn’t have been at the forefront of the revival.

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“I love that they brought in models of different body types like there was someone in a wheelchair, there were different ethnicities, different races and very different ages as well, which I liked,“ Bonas said. “We would have noticed it, obviously, because it’s a big shift from what it was originally. But that shouldn’t have been the basis of the campaign.”

Echoing Bonas, Maya Hu Dobbert da Cruz (’26) said she was happy with the push for inclusivity but acknowledged that the brand should have taken more steps to appeal to the consumers

“I feel like the inclusivity is great, but I feel like it’s the bare minimum,” Hu Dobbert da Cruz said. “The clothes need to be good, too.”

High School Counselor Yanna Jackson said while she did not keep up with the fashion show itself, she appreciated the diversity efforts.

“I know everyone says representation matters, but it really does,” Jackson said. “The things that are in our subconscious, like messages that we get from a really young age, really impact us.”

Moreover, Jackson said a push for body inclusivity is needed as more young people become influenced by social media.

“People are absolutely influenced by what they see on their screens,” Jackson said. “A lot of people like to keep it to themselves, or they feel silly for feeling like it’s this really important thing that they’re paying attention to if they see someone on social media and feel insecure. It seems superficial to be affected by that, but it’s so real.”

Critics of the show found fault with the “outdated” styles that the models were dressed in, with some referring to the outfits as “tacky,” according to The Guardian.

Bonas said the fashion show could have adverse impacts on the body positivity movement and portray inclusivity in a “bad light” by putting the models in clothes of a lower quality than past shows.

“They dressed the models in frumpy clothes that were not beautiful,” Bonas said. “They were not well crafted like they were originally and I think, in my opinion, that’s kind of saying like, ‘Oh, if we have more inclusive body types, it’s not going to be as nice.’”

Ultimately, Bonas said the negative response to the quality of the show took away from the empowering message that the brand intended to present.

“[The model’s bodies] shouldn’t have been at the forefront,” Bonas said. “Victoria’s Secret is supposed to be about celebrating women, and this show and the criticism just didn’t do that.”

This story was originally published on The Standard on November 10, 2023.