As A Fat Woman, I Have Four Suggestions For The 'New' Victoria's Secret
Hey Vickie—Can I call you Vickie? It feels a little stuffy to call you “Victoria’s Secret” since we are just chatting like friends here today. Today, you’re Vickie. Anyway, hey. Hi. I’ve heard about your massive rebranding, and I have to tell you, as a fat person, I am pretty excited.
I’m not going to lie to you.
Historically, your store has been kind of huge bummer for people like me. Who is “people like me?” You might think I just mean fat people, but that’s not all I mean at all. “People like me” are all the people who exist outside of the cultural ideal of sexual desirability for straight men.
People like me are fat women. They’re also trans women. Non-binary people. People with certain disabilities. Ya know… all the people who never could have made it as a VS Angel, no matter how hard we tried or how beautiful we know we are.
I’ve been in your stores a handful of times, always to buy things like perfume and lotion. You used to make a lip gloss I was obsessed with, and I wish it was still around. I went into the store with my thin friends a million times, even as a teenager, but when it came to putting undies on my big fat tush or hoisting my heavy breasts back into position, I had to go elsewhere. (For a lot of years, I had to go to the beige wasteland of the plus-size bra section, but thankfully things have gotten cuter for us chunky gals in the titty-lifting department.)
When I heard that you decided to rebrand, my initial reaction was, “Well, it’s about time.”
I love that you’re replacing the angels with a collective of women who can consult on what actual human beings want to see in a rebranded VS store. (Although, as much as I love Paloma Elsesser…hello, gorgeous… I definitely think you need someone larger than a size 14 to consult with on issues affecting plus-size women, so ya know. Hit me up if you need a little more input.) I’m excited to see what the newly reimagined fashion show will look like in 2022. I’ll be watching.
But I think if we are honest, we can all admit there’s a potential for this to be a “too little, too late” kind of situation. I get the sense that everyone in your org totally knows that, which is good. It’s why I’m watching how this rebranding goes down with anticipation instead of trepidation.
As a fat person, I kind of want to be mad at you for the way your Angels and your fashion shows contributed to the anti-fat culture that made my formative years kind of hellacious.
I want to remind you that I don’t need you. I mean, in 2021, it’s not hard to find brands with inclusive sizing, diverse representation in marketing, and a commitment to roasting the patriarchy on bonfires fueled by the push-up bras of our ancestors.
But I can’t help it. I’m pretty excited. Imagine a world where I, a fat nursing mom, can walk into Victoria’s Secret with my non-binary friend, my post-mastectomy friend, and my straight-sized friend, and all of us can leave with something that fits us and makes us feel comfortable? Dream.
Seventeen-year-old me always dreamed of carrying my new bra around in one of those pink striped bags instead of the sensible white JC Penney bag with the big red square on it. Thirty-six-year-old me still wants to be a VS shopper. I can’t help it.
Are you taking rebranding suggestions from common folk like me? Just in case you are, I’ve made a little list of things I’d really, really love to see in your new-and-improved spaces.
Make the term “inclusive sizing” mean something great.
Have you ever heard of a little bitty brand called Savage X Fenty? Maybe you know their founder, Rihanna? Yeah. They carry sizes XS through 3x, and I’d love to see Victoria’s Secret use their size range as a jumping off point. Add more X’s before the S. Add a 4x. Hell, go nuts and carry a 5x. IN STORE. Let people of all sizes have a chance to shop in person. Online shopping is better than nothing, but it sucks.
Let us see models that look like us.
Let’s see real people on your new runway. Use extra small models with tiny hineys and little boobies. Grab a size large model with asymmetrical melons and a gorgeous smile, and pay her to show people how gorgeous your new stuff is. Let’s see transwomen in your catalogs. How about non-binary people? Plus size models! Wheelchair-users! Models with limb-differences. There are so many different kinds of bodies that need bras, underwear, lingerie, pajamas, active wear, swimsuits…all the stuff you sell! Let us see people in everyday bodies, not just people whose proportions are unattainable to 99% of your customer base.
Offer some stuff that’s not super “girly.”
Not everyone with breasts is a woman. Not every woman has breasts. There are a lot of people of a lot of genders who would prefer to be able to wear a bra that simply keeps their breasts from being uncomfortable. I love a little lift and separate, but lots of people with breasts need a bra with a different function. Consult them. Keep them in mind. Market to them. They deserve to be seen and heard.
Redefine sexy, but don’t throw it away.
I really hope your rebranding effort doesn’t mean Victoria’s Secret is giving up on the idea of sexy. I want to have a place to go when I want to wow my husband or make myself feel like a dynamic, sexual woman instead of a mid-thirties mom. I’d be disappointed if there was no room for sultry, sexy offerings. I’m just hoping to share that sexy space with other women who look like me. I’m hoping to see people of all shapes and sizes with a wide range of needs shopping side-by-side in one of the most recognizable underpants stores on the planet.
I mostly want to see this rebranding open your doors to shoppers who you have excluded in the past. I don’t want Victoria’s Secret to turn into the JCPenney lingerie department circa 1999. I just want your historically male-gaze-focused stores to enter this millennium.
I hope you’re off to the kind of start I’ve been imagining.