(Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Whether you wanted to or not, I’m sure you know that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show aired on Tuesday night. As a member of the fashion media and a big personal fan of lingerie, I, of course, tuned in, handfuls of cookies in hand. And, perhaps more importantly, as a member of the female population of this world, I proceeded to watch these “most beautiful women on the planet” walk down the runway and criticized myself. And you know what? This year was a little different. Instead of looking at these women and bemoaning the fact that my body didn’t look like theirs or that my legs would never be that long or that I would never get to stand that close to The Weeknd‘s mystical pineapple-shaped hair, I found myself wanting the be like the Angels in strength and work ethic. (Okay, maybe I still bemoaned the fact that I was never going to get to be that close to The Weeknd’s mystical pineapple-shaped hair. I’m still human.)
This is the first time I’ve ever actually watching the VS Fashion Show when it aired, so I didn’t realized that, instead of insanely lengthy commercial breaks, they would feature interviews with the Angels, discussing their workout routines, how becoming an Angel has changed their careers, and how they worked to get where they are. I think we so often forget that, while the Angels are indeed beautiful, they work just as hard, if not harder, than any other working woman to achieve a certain level of success that’s incredibly difficult in their industry and to be taken seriously in a role that is inherently looked down upon.
Writers in particular can understand the mental and emotional strain that accompanies this kind of professional ambition. Perhaps I’m biased because I’m a writer myself, but I think that this industry really takes a toll on self-esteem. I searched for a full-time position for well over a year before finally landing one, taking on every single internship and freelance opportunity that came my way in the process. Some of them had god-awful hours. Some of they paid almost nothing. Some of them paid nothing at all. In the end, the work is worth it, but the apparent inability to get something you’re working hard for, something that you genuinely believe you’re good enough for, can take a real hit on your self-esteem. It doesn’t help that, in the interim, you see your peers succeeding, or you hear people saying that your career aspirations aren’t as legitimate as theirs.
The way I see it, the models who landed the VS Fashion Show are the equivalent to my landing a full-time editorial position: all the hard work finally paid off, and everything that happened in the lead-up was worth it. They just get more magazine covers than I do.
(Photo: Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images)
And beyond the stress of trying to further their careers, I can’t help but marvel at their physical discipline. The whole reason I started writing this column is because I thought that, if there were a whole legion of readers out there paying attention to my workout regimen and fitness progress every week, it would give me a reason to work harder. And yet, months after I began, while I’ve certainly seen results, I can safely say I’m still not where I hoped I would be. These women work out like animals in preparation for both the casting process and the show if they ultimately do get cast, and if the Angels’ remarks last night are the norm for the rest of them, they happily endure two-a-day workouts, seven days a week, for months. I consider it a win if I get to the gym three days a week, and even then, I bitch and moan non-stop. I suppose I’d be just as motivated if I had a real goal or deadline, but until then, I’ll just keep on bitching and moaning (sorry, friends and family).
So, what am I getting at here? Am I using the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to help people understand how difficult it was for me to get a job? Yeah, I think so. Am I using it to try to guilt myself into working out more? Probably. But here’s the point: rather than seeing the models and body-shaming myself, this year the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show made me realize just how far I’ve come professionally and how I can change myself for the better. Maybe that has more to do with personal growth than with the overall attitude toward the show itself, but I’ll take what I can get .