As the countdown to tonight’s Victoria Secret Fashion Show begins, I can’t help but revisit how much has changed over the past decade. I remember being partially disgusted by how much hype there was come every year for the VS Fashion Show. I didn’t see the appeal. Why would I want to watch women parade around in lingerie? It went against everything I had studied and worked for in life, and I considered it demeaning to women who were working so hard to break the glass ceilings.
Maybe it was my experiences in Peace Corps, where the showing of skin eluded to you being a prostitute. Or maybe it was because I started actually considering both sides of everything and realizing what is my voice and what was the voice of peer pressure, but I have come to respect these women. To have the confidence in their appearance and body to be able to walk down a runway that is being televised to millions of people takes a lot of strength. Strength that I don’t have, as well as a majority of the female population in the United States.
My generation lives in a world of peer pressure and low self esteem. You can never be pretty enough. There is always something to fix or work on. I see so many more children bullied today in schools then when I went to school. But I also see many people more vocal about it. Celebrities are starting to become more open about their own experiences and are becoming positive role models for their fans.
Last year was the first year I watched the Victoria Secret Fashion Show. Ever. I was 24 years old. I had spent the later part of 10 years being strongly opposed to something that I hadn’t even watched to be able to pass judgement. I wasn’t very content about watching it either. I remember being in the transit house for Peace Corps and everyone asked if I had seen it. I gave them a puzzled look and spit out three words: “of course not.” I thereafter fell to the peer pressure of my friends to watch it and we huddled around around a small computer streaming it from youtube.
My preconceptions were shattered when it started. It wasn’t just girls walking down the runway in high heels wearing practically nothing. There was behind the scenes and backstage footage of the models. Who they are. What they stand for. They talked about the pressure of the job. How one photo on social media could make or break their career. I had always seen them as Barbie doll plastics that just wanted to show off their bodies and were just plain “Mean Girls.” Surprise! They were humans. They dealt with body issues, were spokespeople for organizations that meant a lot to them, and were hurt by the mean comments of people so anti what they did for a living.
Over the past year, I have watched them on various social media sites. I have learned more about what makes them people, and each time, their untouchable perfect image slowly melts away. If after dealing with the same issues you and I deal with, they can get up, and continue their jobs, I look up to them. Come 10pm tonight, I will be tuning in with millions of other people, watching them do what they do best while thinking “if only I had that confidence.”