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The harm that comes from lack of body representation in the media

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The harm that comes from lack of body representation in the media

Mikaela Ponce

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The 2018 Victoria’s Secret fashion show aired on December 2. It is known for its extravagant setup, star performances, and, of course, its models. Lately, people have been calling for more representation and inclusion in the show. Halsey, who performed at the 2018 VS fashion show made the following statement on Instagram: “And complete and total acceptance is the only ‘fantasy’ that I support…” 

Her statement seemed to be a response to this comment that Ed Razek made: “If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have.” He continued with, “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No, I don’t think we should,” Razek said. “Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.” 

Right now, the requirements for a Victoria’s Secret model are young, hourglass figure, and attractive physical features. They have to be between 5’8” and 6’0” tall, have a 34” bust, 24” waist, and 34” hips for the perfect hourglass figure. To maintain that perfect physique, they work out for an hour every day, and eat 5 smaller meals per day. To prep for the show, they up their workouts to twice a day every day 2-4 weeks before the show. On top of the perfect body type, they also have to have the perfect face. Smooth skin, full lips, small nose, high cheekbones, and chiseled features are what Ed Razek is looking for. While some experienced models are older and do walk in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, new models must be between the ages of 18 and 22. 

On top of having the right ‘look,’ the girls also have to have a good personality. They want people who will appeal to women, because women are their target market. Ed Razek, the man behind it all, claims he knows exactly what women want to see. “All of these women would be the best looking girl any guy had ever seen — guys are easy,” Razek continued. “Women have to say, ‘I want to look like that, I want to have that spirit or that confidence and strength.'” 

Yes, women do want to look like that, but there comes a point where it’s too much. All women want to feel beautiful, and because of the choice of women the media choses to highlight and display, society starts to make that the beauty standard. Woman start to notice that all the people up there are beautiful, and admired, and defined as perfect by society. They notice that they don’t look like that. They notice that they don’t have a dainty waist, or chiseled features, or a thigh gap. This leads to low self-esteem and unrealistic body image aspirations. 

This unrealistic societal definition of a perfect body is the reason girls are starving themselves. It is the reason that 40% of girls in grade ten and 37% of girls in grade nine thought of themselves as being too fat. Of those students that were “normal weight” based on their BMI, 19% still thought that they were too fat, and 12% of the students admitted to trying to lose weight (https://www.mirror-mirror.org/eating-disorders-statistics.htm). A study in 2003 found that people with anorexia are 56 times more likely to commit suicidethan non-sufferers (https://www.mirror-mirror.org/eating-disorders-statistics.htm). Young women with anorexia are 12 times more likely to die than are other women the same age that don’t have anorexia (https://www.mirror-mirror.org/eating-disorders-statistics.htm).  

These women might not have been told directly that they aren’t beautiful, but they feel this way because of the lack of representation in the media. They see people up there being called the “most beautiful women in the world,” but they don’t see themselves up there. So they just start to rule that out, rule out that they are beautiful because they don’t look like the girls paraded in the media. Because they aren’t beautiful enough to be in somebody’s “fantasy.” 

While there are plus-sized models representing beautiful different body types, none have graced the Victoria’s Secret runway. They have not walked in, what can be considered, the most famous fashion show in the US.  

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