The Victoria's Secret Show axing has been a long time coming

Sarah Carty
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Aussie supermodel Shanina Shaik has claimed that the Victoria’s Secret Show has been axed, after 25 years.

“Unfortunately the Victoria’s Secret show won’t be happening this year,” the Melbourne beauty told The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s something I’m not used to because every year around this time I’m training like an angel.”

“But I’m sure in the future something will happen which I’m pretty sure about.”

Aussie supermodel Shanina Shaik has claimed the Victoria's Secret Show has been axed. Photo: Getty Images

Fans of stars like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima and Winnie Harlow, to name a few, will no doubt be devastated they won’t get to see their favourite supermodel crushes don whatever gravity-defying push-up bra or crystal-adorned G-string the brand deem fit for them to parade on stage.

But in an era where the Me Too movement has been thrust into the international dialogue and given a much-needed voice to people all over the world who’ve ever felt objectified, I can’t help but think the Victoria’s Secret show’s days were numbered for years now.

The Victoria's Secret Show saw a bunch of supermodels strut their stuff down the runway in an assortment of glitzy lingerie. Photo: Getty Images

How it all started

Victoria’s Secret was founded by American businessman, Roy Raymond, in 1977, with executives of the controversial company deciding in 1994 that as a fashion brand, they should have a fashion show.

Models in cardigans, holding handbags and wearing simple nightgowns took to a short catwalk at the Plaza Hotel in New York in 1995, in front of a tiny audience – a stark contrast to the extravagant shows that took place in more recent years.

Then came the ‘Golden Era’ of the Victoria’s Secret Show, in the late 1990s, which saw supermodels like Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum propel the brand into dizzying heights.

Fans saw beauty defined by the waif-like models’ flawless appearances, which made them somehow seem inferior to us mere mortals- despite stars like Tyra Banks now admitting that she used to cover her derrière at the shows so her cellulite wouldn’t feature in shots.

Fast-forward 25 years, and the brand is still perpetuating unrealistic beauty ideals, with the main attraction last year being an eye-watering $1.4 million ‘Fantasy Bra’, crafted by ateliers at Swarovski, which was worn by Swedish stunner Elsa Hosk.

Supermodels in the beginning were pictured holding handbags and wearing cardigans. Photo: Getty Images
Tyra Banks even admitted that she used to cover her derriere at the shows so her cellulite wouldn’t feature in shots. Photo: Getty Images

‘Angel’ behaviour

And while the big guns at Victoria’s Secret might have tried to pull out all the stops with superstar performers and celebrity guests year-after-year, it hasn’t stopped the brand from coming under fire for how they ‘celebrate’ the female form.

Not only is the ludicrously-priced Fantasy Bra out of most peoples’ reach, but for many, so too are the bodies of these goddess-like women, whose diet and exercise routines sound like a bad nightmare.

Take veteran ‘Angel’ Adriana Lima, who admitted in 2011 that she ate no solid food for nine days before the show and stopped drinking liquids (including water) 12 hours before taking to the stage. I couldn’t think of anything worse to be honest.

And in 2016, a then 21-year-old Gigi Hadid revealed that she worked out ‘like crazy’ before the catwalk show, exercising three times a day.

Aussie model, Bridget Malcolm, who walked in the show in 2016, revealed her struggle with an eating disorder and apologised to her fans for promoting an ‘unhealthy’ diet.

The thing is, there’s probably not one woman sitting at home watching the show on TV who doesn’t feel a dip in confidence when the models with teeny-tiny waists and perky boobs smile and blow kisses at them through the camera.

That instant feeling of inferiority isn’t a new sensation that’s suddenly hit the women of the world in 2019 though – it’s been there from the very beginning.

The difference is that people are now speaking up against the unrealistic body image standards women are regularly subjected to, with the Victoria’s Secret Show just acting as a reminder to us all of far we still have to go.

Veteran ‘Angel’ Adriana Lima, admitted in 2011 that she eats no solid food for nine days before the show and stops drinking liquids (including water) 12 hours before taking to the stage. Photo: Getty Images
Aussie model, Bridget Malcolm, who walked in the show in 2016, revealed her struggle with an eating disorder and apologised to her fans for promotion an ‘unhealthy’ diet. Photo: Getty Images

Plus-size models speak out

One of those women who has been taking a stand against the lingerie giant’s show for years now is Australian plus-size model Robyn Lawley.

“I hate Victoria’s Secret,” Lawley said, in an interview on The Sunday Project last year.

“If they don’t use a curvy girl this year, I’d be shocked. And if they don’t just don’t buy their stuff.”

She also told Cosmopolitan she felt it was an awful move on Victoria’s Secret’s part not to embrace women with curves.

“I remember Victoria’s Secret in the nineties; women had beautiful hips and curves, like Tyra Banks,’ she said.

“Those were the women I looked up to and I feel like not including women of that size anymore is a really bad step on their part.”

And Robyn’s not alone, with American model Ashley Graham Photoshopping wings onto an Instagram picture as a tongue-in-cheek dig at the lack of inclusiveness in the show.

Last year, plus-size model Tabria Majors posted side-by-side images of her and the ‘Angels’, alongside the caption: “Maybe I’ll be a Victoria’s Secret Angel this year for Halloween, since it ain’t happening in real life lol.”

Body positivity

It seemed a shift was coming in how Victoria’s Secret saw the female form three-years-ago, when they decided to shuffle their ‘fit not skinny’ models out to the front of all the photoshoots and catwalk show.

However, just before the 2017 show, they faced backlash when they released an advert featuring the tagline ‘The Perfect Body’, under a photo of a line-up of skinny, perfect models.

“Every day women are bombarded with advertisements aimed at making them feel insecure about their bodies in the hope that they will spend money on products that will supposedly make them happier and more beautiful,” a GoFundMe petition read.

“All this does is perpetuate low self-esteem among women who are made to feel that their bodies are inadequate and unattractive because they do not fit into a narrow standard of beauty.

“It contributes to a culture that encourages serious health problems such as negative body image and eating disorders.”

In May 2019, The New York Times reported that the show would no longer be broadcast on network TV.

At the time, the CEO of VS’s parent company, Les Wexner, said they’ve “decided to rethink the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Going forward, we don’t believe network television is the right fit.”

Just over 3 million viewers tuned in to the 2018 show, the lowest number in five years. The previous year, the show attracted 5 million viewers which was an all-time low at the time.

And with last year’s show going ahead with little to no changes from the age-old format of skinny models parading in tiny underwear, it seemed like the brand might have needed to rethink how they viewed body image, before people started to turn off for good. Perhaps it’s too late.

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