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Living proof that feminists can enjoy Victoria’s Secret too

Published: Monday, May 6, 2013

Updated: Monday, May 6, 2013 00:05

     Since I’m a women’s and ethnic studies major, I’m often asked how I feel being a feminist who also works at Victoria’s Secret.

     Anyone who has watched the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show may think that such a business is a nightmare for feminists – and really, women in general. But there’s more to Victoria’s Secret than just models strutting around in lingerie.

     These models are so unnaturally beautiful, in the way models are, that they have actually risen to a higher plane of existence – they are angels. Aren’t we lucky to watch these exalted creatures walk a runway in their underwear?

     The television ads aren’t much better.  The same sultry British voice talks about whatever new bra there is, as if an accent will make the commercial that much more exciting.

     The ad campaigns and other media advertising Victoria’s Secret often objectify their models. However, actually working in a Victoria’s Secret store is a very different experience.

     I may be surrounded by the same objectifying pictures, but I have found that the focus is really on customer experience.

     I can’t speak for the company, but I feel the whole purpose of the brand is to provide clothing that makes customers feel both sexy and comfortable.

     Bras of the past sometimes looked like torture devices, and I’ve met many women who just expect that any bra they pick up will feel like one. Typically, the rule seems to be this: the prettier it looks, the more uncomfortable it will feel.

     This is not the case at Victoria’s Secret. There are bras designed for all kinds of body shapes, so my favorite one might be the worst thing that’s ever touched another woman’s skin. Her favorite might be the completely wrong fit for me.

     It’s pretty easy to find one that’s comfortable, though, and they all come in a variety of colors and designs. Why should women have to choose between feeling comfortable or feeling attractive?

     Victoria’s Secret isn’t perfect.  I wish we offered larger sizes, and I don’t understand why we offer extra small lounge pants but not extra large (in the store; all sizes are available online).

     I also think the color “nude” should be a range of colors that work with many different skin tones, rather than only an approximation of a white skin tone.

     Still, Victoria’s Secret is not a horrible, sexist company either. I am proud to work for a company that donates to domestic violence shelters and makes bras for women who have undergone mastectomies. I am proud to help women find bras that build their confidence.

     As a feminist, I don’t have to love everything about the company I work for. If that were the case, I would never keep a job.

     The most important thing is I can appreciate what the company is doing well and keep my critical eye to recognize what it could do better.

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