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Victoria's Secret: Navigating the Complexity of Representation and Shifting Beauty Standards

Victoria's Secret, known for its glamorous fashion shows, has recently made a comeback, accompanied by efforts to embrace inclusivity and representation in the fashion industry. As someone who once adored the original shows, while also valuing genuine diversity, I find myself torn between nostalgia and the recognition that the perception of beauty and body size is a nuanced and ever-evolving topic. In our quest for inclusivity, we must be mindful of unintentionally perpetuating body shaming or redirecting it towards different body types. Let's explore the complexities of representation and the concern that performative actions may undermine genuine progress.

Nostalgia: The Magic of the Original Shows

The Victoria's Secret fashion shows were synonymous with glamour, fantasy, and unattainable beauty standards. These lavish spectacles transported us into a world of dreams, empowerment, and admiration for the charismatic Angels who graced the runways. The nostalgia surrounding these shows is undeniable, but we must acknowledge their role in perpetuating narrow ideals of beauty.

Challenges and Criticism: Recognizing the Need for Change

Over time, Victoria's Secret faced valid criticism for its lack of diversity and limited representation. The absence of plus-sized, transgender, and racially diverse models on their runways highlighted the need for a more inclusive fashion industry. As society progressed and discussions around body positivity and representation gained momentum, it became clear that a change in the status quo was essential.

The Rise of Inclusive Fashion: Embracing Authentic Representation

In recent years, the fashion industry has witnessed remarkable strides towards inclusivity. Brands like Savage X Fenty and Aerie have actively celebrated diverse body types, casting models of various sizes, ethnicities, and gender identities. These brands have fostered a sense of acceptance and empowerment, challenging traditional beauty standards and cultivating a loyal following.

There have also been celebrities such as Lizzo have become influential voices advocating for body positivity and representation in the media. Their platforms have allowed them to question the motives behind certain industry changes, including Victoria's Secret's decision to feature plus-sized models. Lizzo's concerns, and those of others, serve as important reminders to critically analyse the authenticity of these shifts.

The Danger of Redirected Body Shaming: Balancing Perspectives

As our perception of beauty evolves, we must be cautious not to replace one set of beauty standards with another. While it is crucial to celebrate and embrace diverse body types, we must avoid undermining the experiences and self-esteem of those who naturally possess a "skinny" physique. Redirecting body shaming towards different body types perpetuates an unhealthy cycle and fails to achieve genuine body positivity.

Performative Action vs. Genuine Progress: Holding Brands Accountable

Victoria's Secret's reintroduction of its fashion shows, featuring plus-sized models, initially seemed like a step towards inclusivity. However, concerns arise regarding the authenticity of these actions and the potential for reversion to traditional practices when beauty standards shift again. It is our responsibility as consumers to demand genuine progress and hold brands accountable for their commitment to inclusivity beyond performative gestures.

When celebrities like Lizzo question the genuineness of Victoria's Secret's recent efforts, it invites us to reflect on the potential for performative action. It is crucial to examine whether these changes represent a lasting commitment to diversity and inclusion or if they are simply a response to market demands or public pressure. Celebrities can play a vital role in holding brands accountable and encouraging authentic representation.

Embracing a Lasting and Authentic Change: The Way Forward

To break free from the cycle of shifting beauty standards, we must challenge societal norms and promote lasting change within the fashion industry. True inclusivity means celebrating and appreciating the diversity of all body types consistently. Brands like Victoria's Secret must prioritise diversity in their organisational structure and creative direction, ensuring representation becomes an intrinsic part of their ethos.

Victoria's Secret's reinstatement of its fashion shows, featuring plus-sized models, marks a step towards progress and inclusivity. However, we must remain vigilant to avoid perpetuating body shaming or redirecting it towards different body types. Genuine representation requires a balanced approach that appreciates the uniqueness of every individual, without devaluing any particular body type. By demanding authenticity and fostering a culture of acceptance, we can shape a future where all individuals are valued and celebrated, regardless of shifting beauty standards. Let's work together to navigate the complexities of representation and promote genuine progress in the fashion industry.

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