Victoria’s Secret executives have confirmed that the 2019 fashion show is canceled, and the news has sparked conversation about how the show has put pressure on women to live up to unrealistic beauty standards.
Women’s Wear Daily was the first to report the news, stating that Stuart B. Burgdoerfer, chief financial officer and executive vice president of L Brands (the parent company of Victoria’s Secret), announced that the show would be canceled during a conference call with analysts on Thursday morning.
Burgdoerfer reportedly said the company is "figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand."
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show launched in 1995 and was first broadcast on television in 2001. The annual show featured the world's top supermodels, such as Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bundchen, and Adriana Lima, walking the runway in angel wings while modeling lingerie and sleepwear.
But with the rise of the body-positivity movement and the popularity of inclusive lingerie brands like Rihanna's Savage X Fenty, Victoria's Secret has struggled to stay relevant. According to CNBC, the company has seen a steady decline in sales since 2016, and the 2018 fashion show had the worst ratings in the history of its broadcast.
Following the 2018 show, Ed Razek, then chief marketing officer of L Brands, faced backlash for telling Vogue that the brand would not hire trans or curvy models for the show.
In an interview with the outlet, Razek said: “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special… We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” (He apologized shortly after, saying the show actually would hire a trans model.)
In 2018, Victoria’s Secret did make an effort to diversify the runway by casting 19 models of color, including Winnie Harlow, the first model with vitiligo to walk in the show. The show still lacked body diversity, however. Until that changes, many people are happy to see it go.
Some took to Twitter following the news:
While other fans are sad to see the show go, the cancellation is viewed as a win for body positivity. More brands are putting diverse bodies on runways and in advertising campaigns, and many women are relieved to finally see models who actually look like they do.
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