Columns, Opinion

American Protest: Victoria’s Secret is built on abuse and body shaming

I have never been a fan of Victoria’s Secret. The stores themselves are intimidating with the beautiful, unattainable bodies all over the walls, and their size variety is usually lacking. As a consumer, I have not thought their products were anything special and they felt pretty cheap. In the past few years, Victoria’s Secret has only gone downhill.

 Many past Angels have come forward, talking about the years of abuse and assault that is normalized and tolerated by the company’s top executives. While this is not very surprising, it is incredibly disappointing that powerful men have gotten away with their misogynistic ways for so long.

 Workplace assault is nothing new to many women — it spans all careers and fields. A study done by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows 80 percent of women will experience harassment in the workplace. These numbers are incredibly disturbing because they indicate that this problem is widespread, and women should generally expect the possibility of harassment.

 It seems like Victoria’s Secret is one of the worst companies when it comes to this. Models claim to have been groped in the crotch, emailed inappropriate messages from executives, pressured into nude photos and treated like “high-end prostitutes.”

 Additionally, employees reported being body shamed and yelled at for eating. The toxicity that pervades Victoria’s Secret transfers to the consumers as well. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was repeatedly criticized for not including women with realistic bodies, plus-sized models or transgender women.

 Many consumers feel ugly or overweight compared to the unrealistic images Victoria’s Secret puts out, especially in their fashion shows. The company and the shows do not represent what real people look like.

 Ed Razek, one of the company’s top executives, expressed no interest in changing the look of the models and having a wider body range of women. He talked about how that was not the brand of Victoria’s Secret and that it was not necessary.

 It is this type of thinking that has made Victoria’s Secret outdated compared to other competitors in the lingerie market. Why shop at a store that permits sexual assault and body shaming when other brands like Aerie and Fenty X Savage exist?

 Aerie started its own body positivity campaign called Aerie Real where they feature plus-sized women, disabled women, untouched pictures and a shopping atmosphere that makes customers feel good about their bodies. I much prefer to shop in that environment because it makes me feel beautiful when I am surrounded by models who actually look like me.

 They have scars, rolls, imperfections and stretch marks like every normal woman with no retouched pictures. Normalizing all types of women is a much better company image than abuse and sexual assault.

 Victoria’s Secret has dug its own grave over the past few years by refusing to move with the times and accept body positivity. It has made women feel unattractive because they are not underweight. Starving models are no longer what I, and many women, want to see.

 This revelation of sexual assault by the top executives is the final straw for Victoria’s Secret. I hope many customers will join me in no longer financially supporting a company that represents body shaming and abuse. 

 This issue of workplace sexual assault is something that needs to be addressed in every field because it is not just models suffering from these attacks. Too many men have gotten away with making their female coworkers uncomfortable with non-consensual touching or overtly sexual remarks. This toxic behavior will continue until we address it and punish people for it.

 I guarantee if you ask any women in your life if a male co-worker has felt entitled to say gross things to them or touch them inappropriately, they will have at least one instance, but probably many. It is time we do better, and that starts by putting companies like Victoria’s Secret out of business.

Decades of harming women are over as well as abusive men’s domination of the market. Do not give your money to these misogynistic men who treat women as objects for their own pleasure. Give it to companies that encourage body positivity and make you feel beautiful. 

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