Volkskrant, The Netherlands
For the Victoria’s Secret Angel,
Horniness Equals Self-Confidence
By Anna Drijver
Translated By Nikki Rosenberg
17 December 2012
Edited by Keturah Hetrick
The Netherlands - Volkskrant - Original Article (Dutch)
“We are all lesbians ‘till 11 o’clock” was Tweeted frequently when the Victoria’s Secret 2012-2013 show (on television tonight) was recently aired in America. For a moment, every woman was in love with the Angels.
For years now, lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret has gone to great lengths to ensure that the show is more than just a lingerie show. It is one of the largest and most expensive fashion shows in the world (costs of the previous year: $12 million), and the exposure is unknown.
The show differentiates itself from other fashion shows in various ways. There is the marketing of the models, who receive the name “Angels” and are often proposed as role models for independent women. The campaign surrounding the Angels’ show is immense.
Self-Confidence from a Bra
Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie is subordinate to the female image that the Angels propose. In many interviews, the models explain the self-confidence that the bras give them. Even more than that, the campaign is about the Angels themselves. In haute couture shows, models usually function only as anonymous vehicles for the designer’s vision, but not for Victoria’s Secret. The Angels (amongst them, Doutzen Kroes) are mentioned by first and last name and are the stars of the show. The most famous Angels walk with wings, while the newer models show bras styled as circus clown, lucky clover, witch or Indian.
Bras were once the symbol for inequality and repression of the female. In 1970, they were burned near the statue of Wilhelmina Drucker, the namesake of Dolle Mina. Now, the marketing of Victoria’s Secret does the contrary and lets us believe that the pinnacle of spirited self-confidence is showing your body in lingerie. Feminism took a turn somewhere; feminine confidence has become horny and sexy.
We must present ourselves in a sexy way because that makes us females happy. How does this mechanism work? The Angels gain recognition from women. It is not unimaginable that the recognition of women by women is the most important. Men are certainly not as critical of the female body as women. Why does the thin, sexy woman get respect from other women? Perhaps it is because she shows persistence (“I can diet”) and independence (“I’m earning money with this”).
Last season, theater makers Boogaerdt and Van der Schoot made the show Bimbo, concerning the “bimbofication” of the woman. In the show, it is proposed that the woman in an advertisement does not just hold the product, but that she strokes it or presses it against her face. In advertisements, women (more often than men) show only a body part — bottom, breasts and legs without a head. Even I notice that due to these influences, I am unconsciously classifying women: fat or skinny, pretty or ugly. When it comes to the classification of men, other criteria are important. The clearest examples of this imbalance are found in presentations on the Italian RaiUno. The women are sexy, wear a lot of makeup and have small noses and large breasts, while the men are old and grey and have bellies.
Tonight the Angels will walk down the catwalk dressed as sexy poodles or naughty Lolitas. The Victoria’s Secret show is sold as a celebration of self-confidence, but in reality, it is an assignment to all women. You can ignore it, just like girls who grew up without Barbie dolls. Then, Barbie’s image creeps into your life. Blond is beautiful, thin is desirable — and Barbie is happy.
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