‘Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show’ objectifies women

Liz Steinborn and Ahna Kruzic

Fetish and Fantasy – these are the two words that came to our minds as we watched the 2010 “Victoria Secret Fashion Show.” The show aired on prime time television recently and is considered the biggest fashion show of year. What we saw striding across the stage was not a tribute to female fashion; it was a tribute to male fetishes that result in lowered self esteem and higher rates of mass product consumption amongst women.

The show opened with the silhouette of a gazebo and inside it, ballerinas. These innocently portrayed women in tutus then became fierce cage dancers, swinging their hair around and gripping the bars of the structure. Seductively, a model appeared in her underwear and began strutting down the runway.

This good-girl, bad-girl dichotomy was a reoccurring theme through the entirety of the show. The show featured costumes depicting tough jungle women, sweet country girls, strong sporty women, pure angels, and innocent little girls — remember a woman dressed in little girl pajamas with the rear cut out, carrying a stuffed animal down the runway.

Depicting women as either “naughty or nice,” we believe, reiterates the male-female dichotomy regarding gender promiscuity. It is a commonly held expectation that women should ideally remain pure and resist sexual temptation, but as soon as this same pure woman interacts with a man, that man fully expects the woman to be “bad” and engage in sexual acts exclusively with him.

The above is the expectation regardless of whether a woman is in a mutually committed relationship or not. Men, on the other hand, are commonly applauded and encouraged to have multiple sex partners. Where is it that men expect to find these women who are pure and virginal, but are willing to submit to only their sexual desires? This is not a realistic expectation, it is fantasy made to seem plausible by media events such as the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.”

In addition to the overall naughty or nice costume theme, what’s with each costume: angels, jungle women, country girls, sporty women, little girls? These costumes do not naturally speak to us; we can say from experience seeing a woman in a pair of balloon wings makes us fearful of seeing a clown peek out from back stage.

I certainly don’t want my partner fantasizing about a little girl at a carnival while I’m trying to seduce him in my cotton candy bra and panties! The “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” succeeds in fetishising women into naughty or nice and then into corresponding unrealistic roles.

A type of fetish referred to as plastic love seems to sum up the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.” Plastic love is when an individual is mentally fixated with something such as sports stars or southern belles, and they ask their partner to dress in that persona, taking on the characteristics of whatever it is they are attracted to.

The women in this show are unhealthily thin, unrealistically tall, and unattainably pretty; yet they typify America’s standard of beauty. They are put in 12-inch stilettos that they need help to walk in, squeezed into too-small underwear, weighed down with 8-foot wings and marched out for viewing pleasure much like a plastic doll we are all pretty familiar with.

At this point, these women stop being women. Instead, they become objects of fantasy; a doll that you can dress to suit whatever your mood: Looking for a dirty tough girl? She’s right here! Want to take the girl next door for a roll in the hay? She’s already half-naked for you!

If we stop thinking of models as actual human beings, it’s easier to watch. They are like floats in a parade – you cannot wait to see what the next one will look like.

It isn’t about the underwear; you can’t see it under all of the tacky costumes they wear — like the woman in the soccer ball shrug, really?

It’s about setting an outrageous standard of beauty and an objectifying ideal of what is sexy.

Editor’s note: Due to a miscommunication between the Iowa State Daily’s opinion co-editors, a few errors occurred in the publication of the piece, “‘Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show’ objectifies women.” Only Liz Steinborn was originally credited as an author; however, the piece was co-written by Liz Steinborn and Ahna Kruzic. The piece was identified as a guest submission; however, Steinborn and Kruzic recently joined the Daily staff and wrote this piece as Daily columnists. Their views do not represent those of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.