Column: Victoria’s Secret non-inclusive models are what’s causing its foreclosures

If Victoria’s Secret embraced society’s changing view on lingerie, then they wouldn’t be losing business.
Victoria’s Secret recently stated that it is closing 53 stores this year. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Rachel Schnelle is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life for The Maneater.

At the beginning of March 2019, Victoria’s Secret, announced that the company plans on closing 53 stores this year, according to CNBC. The company claims that the closures are because of the brand becoming outdated. Victoria’s Secret became outdated the minute it created unrealistic body image expectations for women.

Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1977, and it has since become one of the most valued apparel brands worldwide. In 2017 alone, Victoria’s Secret generated $7.4 billion in sales, according to statista. However, in the same year, the company also saw a decrease in sales for the first time since 2010.

When people walk into Victoria’s Secret stores, the first thing they see are flawless models wearing bras, panties and sweatshirts. The first thing I think about is how I’ll never look like the models. They’re not only posing provocatively, but also have a seemingly perfect shape. I also think about who they’re trying to target with those ads. It's almost as if the ads are aimed more at men than women. This makes sense, because Victoria’s Secret was originally created so that men could comfortably shop for women, according to CNBC. With fewer women and young girls buying their products, it’s unclear what audience Victoria’s Secret is trying to market.

This is hurting the brand even more, because one of the most successful parts of Victoria’s Secret is its clothing brand Pink, which is worn by teenage girls. These bras are also extremely over-padded, therefore adding to the notion that you have to have bigger breasts to be pretty.

This can cause customers to stop buying those products because they know they'll never look like the models. Stores like Victoria’s Secret create a false sense of what beauty actually is, resulting in low self-esteem and dangerous body image issues in both young girls and adult women.

In 2014, American Eagle’s lingerie brand Aerie decided to do something different than other lingerie stores. The company started using untouched models instead of airbrushed ones to model its products.The company has featured women of every race and body shape posing in all kinds of lingerie. Since this campaign’s launch, sales have increased by an impressive 38% in the first quarter of 2018, according to CNBC.

Before the Aerie Real campaign, immaculate supermodels in ads seemed like the only option for selling lingerie. After Aerie’s campaign, women have realized that every girl can look beautiful in a well-fitting bra or lingerie set, regardless of her body type.

As soon as I saw Aerie’s campaign, I decided to stop buying any of Victoria’s Secret clothing. As someone who struggled with my body image, I didn’t want to buy underwear and bras from a company that creates false expectations for girls.

Teenage girls are already struggling with self-esteem and body issues. The last thing they need is to buy from a store that enforces the idea of a perfect body.

Victoria’s Secret is teaching girls all of the wrong things. Rather than teaching girls that they need to wear skimpy clothing and revealing bras to be pretty, teach them that they’re beautiful because of their mind and heart, rather than their clothing.

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