You once couldn’t walk into a Victoria’s Secret store or open a catalog without seeing Erin Heatherton’s face. The model, who walked in the brand’s famous fashion show from 2008 to 2013, had a coveted gig as an official VS Angel. Now, three years after leaving the brand, she’s opening up about the body image struggles she faced while on the job.
“My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,” she tells TIME magazine’s Motto, “I look back like, ‘Really?'” While prepping for her last Victoria’s Secret fashion show in 2013, she was exercising twice a day but couldn’t get the results she wanted.
“I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me,” she says, “And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.”
Heatherton Walking in the 2010 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Getty Images
She left Victoria’s Secret after her last show, “I realized I couldn’t go out into the world—parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me—and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this.”
Just last month, the model also opened up about the pressures she felt in an Instagram photo featuring herself in a shirt that read “Empowered by Failure.” She was participating in the “What Empowers You, Empowers Women Everywhere” campaign run by Empowered By You lingerie and hoped speaking out would help other women struggling. “I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women,” she says. “It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.”
Kristina Rodulfo Beauty Director Kristina Rodulfo is the Beauty Director of Women’s Health—she oversees beauty coverage across print and digital and is an expert in product testing, identifying trends, and exploring the intersections of beauty, wellness, and culture.
- This Victoria’s Secret model was discovered in Miami. Now she’s flat broke | Miami Herald
- A former Victoria’s Secret supermodel is being sued for $10 million over a failed clothing line
- Erin Heatherton Reveals Why She Quit Victoria’s Secret
- Former Victoria’s Secret Angel Erin Heatherton Is Officially the Most Body Positive Person We Know
- Former Victoria’s Secret Model Erin Heatherton Opens Up About Her Struggles with Body Image
- Thank you!
- Former Victoria’s Secret Model Erin Heatherton Blames Stylist for Defunct Clothing Line
- Victoria’s Secret’s models: in one diet even cauliflower and broccoli are out
This Victoria’s Secret model was discovered in Miami. Now she’s flat broke | Miami Herald
Erin Heatherton Miami Herald file
Erin Heatherton is a beautiful woman, but her finances are in ugly shape.
The onetime Victoria’s Secret Angel has filed for bankruptcy after a series of unfortunate events, according to The Blast.
Heatherton was discovered during a vacation to the Magic City when she was 17, she told the Miami Herald during a 2012 interview.
“ was my first time on a plane,” Heatherton told Ocean Drive magazine during another visit down south in 2014.
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The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue standout said she was walking around University of Miami’s campus when an Abercrombie & Fitch scout jumped out of a cab and asked her if she was with an agency.
“I was horrified,” she told the glossy. “I was like, ‘I don’t model.’”
She must be really horrified now.
Court documents show that the six foot tall model said her average monthly income is a paltry $1,089.91 but her expenses are $1,074. In her checking account, $919.
The 30-year-old has obviously fallen on hard times in her industry since 2017, when she made $226,596. The Illinois native listed her income as $18,000 in 2018, and just $2,820 so far this year.
On her Instagram, it says she is represented by MP Management Chicago, but work offers don’t appear to be streaming in.
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It’s hard to fathom Heatherton’s stunning fall from grace.
Is it a shopping problem? Because her credit card debt is out of control.
The documents show Leonardo DiCaprio’s ex currently owes a whopping $215,601.49 on three separate cards, as well as $100,000 from a lawsuit with a former business partner and $41,000 in back taxes to the State of New York.
For a supermodel with access to the finest of things, Heatherton’s closet is apparently pretty barebones these days since she claims to have hawked most of her pricey stuff.
Her property includes a $995 vintage jacket, $500 in other clothing, and a $945 diamond necklace.
Heatherton, whose birth name is Erin Bubley, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year.
We wish her the best of luck. Maybe come back to South Beach? There are lots of models here .
A former Victoria’s Secret supermodel is being sued for $10 million over a failed clothing line
Erin Heatherton became a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 2010. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
- Erin Heatherton, a past Victoria’s Secret Angel, is being sued by her former business partner for $10 million.
- Clare Byrne, a stylist, claims that she and Heatherton were supposed to launch a sportswear company called RetroActive together in 2015.
- However, Byrne argues that Heatherton abandoned the project in October 2015 — and it subsequently failed.
Stylist Clare Byrne is filing a $10 million lawsuit against former Victoria’s Secret Angel Erin Heatherton over a failed sportswear line they had planned to create together, according to court documents obtained by The Blast.
The stylist claims that she styled Heatherton — who walked in the Victoria’s Secret Runway show from 2008 – 2013, before parting ways with the brand after she was told to lose weight — for several appearances and events related in 2015. After working as Heatherton’s stylist, Byrne said that they decided to launch a sportswear line together called RetroActive, People reported.
In her lawsuit, Byrne alleges that Heatherton paid a discounted rate for her styling work. To make up the financial difference, Heatherton offered a 40% investment in the company that would eventually form to promote and sell RetroActive products, according to the court documents, The Blast reported.
Byrne also claims that, as part of their negotiations, Heatherton agreed to pay Byrne her full original styling rate and cover all of the project’s costs, including product prototypes, if the project failed to come to fruition. After they made the alleged agreement, Byrne claims to have worked on the project for 28 days from June to September 2015.
Byrne claims that Heatherton wore RetroActive apparel to a New York Mets baseball game on October 3, 2015. Ben Gabbe/Getty Images
According to People, Byrne says she spent that time developing prototypes, drafting a business plan, and scouting a factory in China to create the clothes. Meanwhile, the model was pictured wearing what Byrne claims is RetroActive gear on two separate occasions.
First, on September 18, 2015, Heatherton allegedly wore RetroActive apparel while filming a promotional video for “Zoolander 2.” However, she did not post a photo from the filming on Instagram until November 10, 2015.
Derek. So hot right now… 🔥🚒🌶 @zoolander
Then, she wore a different set of supposed RetroActive items when she threw the first pitch at a New York Mets baseball game on October 3, 2015.
Cuddling up with my @NorthwestLegit blanket on this chilly night alongside #MrMet ⚾️💙
To Byrne, all of this implied that things were continuing as scheduled. However, the stylist claims that Heatherton suddenly abandoned the project later in October 2015 “without warning or justification.”
Since the project failed to launch, Byrne filed the lawsuit to account for expenses she claims she lost to RetroActive. The $10 million sum includes her total rate not including her discount, all of her out of pocket expenses, and what she believes Heatherton’s 40% investment in the company would have been worth.
At the time this story was published, Heatherton had not responded to Byrne’s claims.
INSIDER has reached out to Erin Heatherton’s modeling agency and a representative for Clare Byrne for comment.
Erin Heatherton Reveals Why She Quit Victoria’s Secret
Former Victoria’s Secret angel Erin Heatherton has spoken out about her decision to part ways with the underwear brand in 2013.
‘My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,’ she told Time magazine. ‘I look back like, “Really?”’
The 27-year-old was one of the brand’s best-known models, walking in the annual Victoria’s Secret catwalk shows between 2008 and 2013, and earning the coveted ‘Angel’ wings from 2010. She has now revealed that the pressure to maintain an unrealistic body shape seriously impacted her self-image and mental health, ultimately causing her to quit.
Despite eating healthily and exercising twice a day, Heatherton reveals that while preparing for her last show in 2013, her body ‘just wouldn’t do it.’
‘I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me. And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.’
The model also revealed that she felt unable to continue to pretend that looking like an ‘angel’ comes easily and effortlessly. ‘I realized I couldn’t go out into the world – parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me – and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this,’ she said.
‘I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women. It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.’
Erin took to Instagram last month to openly discuss her previous struggles with her body image. Wearing a t-shirt with the slogan ‘Empowered by Failure,’ she wrote ‘The breakdown to breakthrough moment in my life has allowed me to become the truest version of myself. I was struggling with my body image and the pressures to fulfill the demands of perfectionism upon me. I am not perfect. Through this struggle, however, I found the strength to love myself.’
READ MORE: Cara Delevingne Opens Up About Her Struggle With Depression On Twitter
Former Victoria’s Secret Angel Erin Heatherton Is Officially the Most Body Positive Person We Know
You probably know model Erin Heatherton’s face from the Victoria’s Secret runway or larger-than-life billboards for the lingerie retailer. In 2013, after working with the brand for about six years, they parted ways. Then in a 2016 interview with TIME, she discussed one of the reasons why: the pressure to drop weight and look perfect on the runway was warping her body image, leaving her “depressed” and questioning her true self. (She’s just one of many celebs who are open about how losing weight didn’t make them happier.)
We caught up with Heatherton at a recent NFL game (she’s a total sports fan), and she stresses that it wasn’t VS or her experience with the brand that left a sour taste in her mouth; it was her own inner conflict with the perfect image she was putting out there.
Turns out, taking her career in a new direction (including repping the NFL Women’s Apparel Collection, appearing in The League and Grown-Ups 2) has only helped her regain clarity of who she really is and what kind of example she wants to set for women and girls.
The result: she has a lot of wisdom to share about what it truly means to love your body. Read below, and prepare yourself for all the #bodylove feels.
1. “I think girls have this illusion that being perfect will make their lives perfect, and it’s a complete lie. Because I’ve been there, and it didn’t make me happier.”
Heatherton admits: she has a whole crew of followers and doesn’t totally understand why. But since she has an audience, she’s going to tell them exactly what she wants them to hear-and what she needed to hear: ” doesn’t add to your power. I’m telling you because I know. Be healthy, but be a person,” she says. “My identity is in the fact that I love being different. I don’t want to be like everybody else. That’s so boring… own your differences, be your own thing.” (One step in the right direction: models are stepping out onto the runway with acne.)
2. “My confidence is rooted in self-respect. I respect my body and no one’s going to take that from me.”
Heatherton grew up as a total sports girl: playing soccer, swimming, track, and basketball. She doesn’t credit her success to some crazy diet or pure luck; she credits it to building a team-player attitude and respectable character through sports. “Basketball is kind of like being on set,” she says. What you need to win at either: discipline, hard work, being goal-oriented, and teamwork. (And she does work hard to stay in shape: just check out her diet and fitness tips.)
Not to mention, Heatherton says she first became interested in eating healthy and taking care of her body as a way to boost performance-not for vanity. This gave her a solid foundation from which to look at herself-as an athlete. “My love for my body started with sports and performance and just seeing the amazing things I could achieve,” she said. “And I’ll go on the record saying that the sports world knows so much more about health and the body and how we should all look than anyone else.”
Heatherton is all #realtalk when it comes to what it’s like looking good for a living: “I put all my energy and time into this one thing, which is looking hot. And at some point, I think: I could fill my mind and my time with so many other things that would make me more like the people I admire,” she says.
“This level of perfection I feel is dangerous. It doesn’t add to your character, it doesn’t add to the qualities that I admire in other people,” she says. “We should care about our health, work hard, and challenge ourselves, but don’t make it your whole identity and don’t sacrifice your confidence and integrity because of it.”
4. “What people tell you is not what you have to think about yourself.”
Like many models, there were moments in Heatherton’s career when someone wanted her to look different: “It’s so much harder when it happens to you than when you hear stories of other people in this situation… there was a fork in the road: is it going to break me down, or going to polish me up?”
But Heatherton said she realized that this inner conflict isn’t just something that she or people in her industry face-it’s something that all women and girls are experiencing. “My industry is so widely publicized and viewed by so many young women, I’m really protective of young girls because looking a certain way like this, it was never on my radar… this level of perfection I feel is dangerous.” (And she’s not the only one rejecting perfection: just check out Gigi Hadid’s #PerfectNever campaign with Reebok.)
5. “Look at yourself and say, ‘You’re fucking gorgeous.’ No one can take that from you.”
Though Heatherton’s body love started with sports, as an adult it’s all about being strong and happy: “I think my flaws are beautiful. They make me laugh. We call them flaws, but I love being me. I love knowing that I will always accept myself,” she says. “Yeah, I can improve, but I never lose the love and respect for me.” Feel the love yet?
- By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo
Former Victoria’s Secret Model Erin Heatherton Opens Up About Her Struggles with Body Image
Erin Heatherton might be a model, but that doesn’t mean she’s immune to feeling bad about herself—particularly when, a few years into her modeling career, Heatherton says she started facing pressure from others to drop pounds.
“My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,” she says. “I look back like, ‘Really?’” (Victoria’s Secret didn’t respond to our requests for comment on this.)
Heatherton says she initially worked hard trying to please the people she was working for by eating healthy and exercising twice a day. But while preparing for her last Victoria’s Secret show in 2013, her body “just wouldn’t do it,” she says.
“I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me,” she says. “And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.”
Shortly after that show, Heatherton parted ways with Victoria’s Secret. She says she went through a lot of self-questioning, wondering what was next for her. She also took that time to really focus on listening to her body.
“I realized I couldn’t go out into the world—parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me—and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this.”
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This idea stayed very much rooted in Heatherton’s mind, and she was inspired to post about it on Instagram, writing that she was stepping away from “hiding behind a fabricated version of” herself:
Heatherton says that, by continuing to share her experience, she hopes she can encourage other women to work toward their own breakthroughs.
“I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women,” she says. “It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.”
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Erin Heatheron walks the Victoria’s Secret show. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Vicroria’s Secret models may make perfection look easy, but former VS star Erin Heatherton recently opened up about just how hard it is to live up to the runway’s unrealistic standards.
In 2013, Heatherton and Victoria’s Secret parted ways after a tumultuous few years during which the pressure on Heatherton to lose weight led to depression and an unhealthy relationship with food. “I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat,” she recently explained to Time. “I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me.”
Heatherton also felt like she could no longer perpetuate unrealistic standards of beauty for her young fans.
“I realized I couldn’t go out into the world — parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me — and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this,” she said.
Now she’s using the experience to help others, posting to Instagram: “I made a choice to redirect my energy to be a catalyst for change. To create a channel for women to become the truest versions of themselves, along with me. (Stay tuned for more).”
Former Victoria’s Secret Model Erin Heatherton Blames Stylist for Defunct Clothing Line
Model Erin Heatherton is accusing her former business partner of ruining a planned sportswear line the two were working on, and now she is counter-suing the woman and demanding that she pay back the cash she gave her for the business.
The former Victoria’s Secret model said she paid stylist Clare Bryne $25,000 to develop a sportwear line named RetroActive, but the work performed on the sample products was “inadequate and deficient in quality and caused delay in the moving the project forward.”
Heatherton said the relationship with Bryne took a turn for the worse after the stylist allegedly tried to claim ownership of the company, and even demanded a percentage plus payments of $4,000 per day for an assistant and travel expenses.
The 28-year-old model, who once dated Leonardo DiCaprio, is counter-suing after Bryne took legal action first when she filed a $10 million lawsuit claiming Heatherton only wore the active wear twice and then abandoned the project.
Heatherton believes Bryne is way off base, and is putting the blame for the failed line squarely on Bryne. She’s now suing to get back her $25,000 payment to the stylist.
Two models have spoken out about the pressures they faced to stay skinny, shining a light on the continued body image issues faced by the fashion industry. Erin Heatherton, a former Victoria’s Secret model, has revealed that she was pressurised to lose weight by the fashion house. Despite exercising twice a day she was unable to reach the weight specified by the company.
Erin Heatherton walks at the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. ‘I was told I had to lose weight.’ Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria’s Secr
“My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,” she told the website Motto. “I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt my body was resisting me.” She left the company soon afterwards.
Model Zuzanna Buchwald, who signed with Wilhelmina Models, has echoed Heatherton’s experience. “My agents told me to stop exercising and stop eating,” she wrote in an essay for The Daily Dot. “The pressure quickly developed into an eating disorder (anorexia) that I battled for almost four years.”
She said the industry sees models as “interchangable coat hangers”, writing that the key to success is the ability to stay a size 0-2 (UK size 4-6) throughout your career. “Young models learn about it the hard way,” she wrote.” If an agency catches the smallest weight gain, you are measured, told to lose weight immediately and reprimanded.”
Model Zuzanna Buchwald said the industry sees models as: ‘interchangeable coat hangers’. Photograph: Melodie Jeng/Getty Images
Model Rosie Nelson, who had a similar experience to Heatherton and Buchwald, adds that the issue is made more problematic by the disconnect between what the public think modelling involves and the reality of it. “People think it’s really glamorous and luxurious, with loads of freebies and getting paid millions. That’s not the case. There’s an underlying pressure to stay thin and the thought that you will be rejected if your hips are too big.”
Caryn Franklin, former co-editor of i-D magazine and currently professor of Diversity at Kingston University, says that there is a culture of denial around the issue meaning that the fashion industry does not see what effect it is having in the wider world. “Women are made to self-objectify because they see objectification in fashion,” she says. “Young women who have been engaging with fashion since they were seven or eight years old have been taught to see themselves as an exterior.”
2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show featuring Lily Aldridge, Karlie Kloss, Adriana Lima, Doutzen Kroes, Candice Swanepoel and Behati Prinsloo. Photograph: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Franklin adds that 30 years ago, models were shorter and bodies were more realistically proportioned. “Now the industry standard height is 5ft 11in but the measurements that designers make to their samples haven’t changed. The taller model therefore is under pressure to reduce her body accordingly.”
The testimony of Heatherton and Buchwald comes days after a bill in California, aimed at reducing eating disorders among models, cleared its first legal hurdle. The bill, which requires the state to develop health standards for models in the state, passed the Assembly Labour and Employment Committee. “The goal of the bill is not only to protect the health of the workers themselves, but also to help young people to emulate the models,” said Democratic politican Marc Levine, who authored it.
Erin Heatherton: ‘I felt my body was resisting me.’ Photograph: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Last December France banned excessively thin models, partly as a response to the death of Isabelle Caro, a 28-year-old model who died of anorexia. In 2012, Israel passed a law banning underweight models, and Italy and Spain have taken similar measures. Nelson is hopeful that through a new generation of designers such as Nasir Mazhir, who streetcasts his models, there will be a change.
“It’s a great achievment to walk into a Victoria’s Secret show, so the fact that someone of Heatherton’s stature has spoken out is a big deal. I’m optimistic that in the future it will mean that big designers will take note.”
Victoria’s Secret’s models: in one diet even cauliflower and broccoli are out
A woman stands on stage and cries. In the auditorium another woman’s partner gives a standing ovation, his hand on his heart. One mother gushes that she is “so proud” of her daughter. Another goes further: “So much admiration for all your hard work and dedication to being the best version of yourself and making your dreams come true.”
We are told that these women are “athletes”, that they are in “peak condition”, that they are “aggressively fit”. But this is not the Olympics or the Paralympics. There are no medals to be won. This is a lingerie show.
Launched in 1995, the Victoria’s Secret runway show has been broadcast on US network television every December since 2001, an extraordinary feat for a high-street underwear brand. Almost from the beginning it has been under fire. In 2002 the United States’ National Organization of Women protested at the event, calling it a “softcore porn infomercial”. One fashion editor told me that the year she covered the show was the “worst job I’d ever done. All the models look the same. The underwear is so skimpy you can literally see everything. One of them bent over in a thong, and I saw it all.”
The Victoria’s Secret show’s strict weight and body-fat requirements are far beyond the reach of most women. Indeed, they are far beyond the reach of most models
The show’s uniformly tall and thin models seem an anachronism in a world that increasingly celebrates body diversity. Yet its star has continued to rise. Last year it was watched by more than a billion people worldwide, claimed to be a 45 per cent increase on the year before. And, despite a recent fall in sales and the resignation of its chief executive, Victoria’s Secret still has a bigger global market share than any other lingerie brand. Its three highest-profile models – Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and her sister Bella – have more than 163 million Instagram followers between them, and some of the biggest names in entertainment, from Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and Ariana Grande to Sting and Lady Gaga, have played the Victoria’s Secret catwalk. When this year’s show airs next weekend, on Sunday, December 2nd, if you are a young woman with access to the internet, Victoria’s Secret will be impossible to avoid.
That is why it is so pernicious. Earlier this month Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, was forced to apologise after telling Vogue that he didn’t want transgender models in the show because it would spoil the “fantasy”. In the same interview he said there was no interest in portraying a wider range of sizes and shapes.
“I’m always asking myself: if we do that, what is the reason we did it?” he said. “Did we include them because it was the right thing to do or because it was the politically correct thing to do? Do they take the place of somebody who worked for a year for the opportunity and cried when they found that they got it?”
“Hard work” is a term you hear a lot around Victoria’s Secret models, or “Angels”, as those who have signed an exclusive deal with the brand are called. It means exercise: training, toning, boxing, skipping, using the hashtag #trainlikeanangel and working out in invite-only classes with names such as the Skinny Bitch Collective.
It is no wonder that many of the models exercise obsessively. The show’s strict weight and body-fat requirements, endlessly speculated on in the media, would be far beyond the reach of most adult women. Indeed, they are far beyond the reach of most models, which is why the 50 or so who are picked for the VS “family” each year must endure months of dieting and exercise.
Victoria’s Secret: Gizele Oliveira at the lingerie brand’s New York fashion show this month. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty
The model Robyn Lawley has appeared in Sports Illustrated and on the covers of Vogue Italia and Vogue Australia, as well as modelling Ralph Lauren, H&M and Chantelle lingerie. She went to a Victoria’s Secret casting six years ago – but was not hired. “It’s a running joke that they see curvier girls every year and never cast them,” she says. “This whole starvation-camp situation before you have to walk that catwalk is ridiculous. Some of them are my friends on that stage; I’m not pulling them apart. But they have to put their bodies to such extremes once they cast the show, they couldn’t maintain that kind of lifestyle or they’d die.”
Yet this lifestyle is pored over by the world’s media. Grazia, Vogue, Elle and the Daily Mail, among others, have all published guidance to looking like a Victoria’s Secret model. Occasionally, they get journalists to try it themselves, and they end up exhausted and hungry, unable to eat out with friends or concentrate. One diet, suggested by the trainer Stephen Pasterino, is so restrictive that, by the end, even cauliflower and broccoli are out.
Adriana Lima, the brand’s longest-serving model, once said she cuts out all solid food nine days before an appearance. Many models do not drink fluids, either
The model Barbara Palvin’s boyfriend bought her a bag of cheeseburgers to eat after this year’s show, as if to prove how little she had eaten beforehand.
Adriana Lima, the brand’s longest-serving model, told the Telegraph in 2011 that she cuts out all solid food nine days before an appearance. Many models do not drink fluids, either. “Dehydration is a massive problem,” one fashion editor told me. Yet every year this event, this circus of competitive anorexia, is broadcast, streamed, applauded.
Publishing details of these regimes, with no warning from medical professionals about their long-term effects, allows a culture to flourish where women are rewarded for their ability to restrict, to deny themselves, to go without. It legitimises a world view where foods are divided into good and bad, where spinach is clean and cake is dirty, where any moment not spent exercising is a moment wasted, and where being thin is a marker of togetherness and control and success.
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❤️So much admiration for all your hard work and dedication to being the best version of yourself and making your dreams come true….. #ProudMommy #ILoveYou @victoriassecret
Lima is retiring from the brand this year, after 20 years. In June a video on her Instagram account showed her struggling through a workout. “Seeing this video makes me emotional,” she wrote. “Sometimes people look at you from the outside and think: her job is so easy (remember I am not complaining), when they don’t know what you go through. Here I am, four weeks after giving birth to my beautiful daughter Valentina and after days of physical therapy because I had a fractured knee, putting all my focus to get ready for a fashion show (60lb heavier, lol). I learned something during that time. Once you love something, absolutely nothing in this world will have the power to stop you, not even your mind or body!”
It is hard to imagine how a brand that claims to have the best interests of its models at heart could allow a woman who has been integral to its identity to ignore all physical and psychological warning signs in her struggle to lose enough weight to be worthy of one more show.
Victoria’s Secret: Ed Razel of L Brands, the lingerie label’s parent company, with the models Lais Ribeiro, Sara Sampaio, Martha Hunt and Gigi Hadid. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty
Razek denies that the brand has a hand in how the models train. “The girls have just continued to get more physically fit,” he told Vogue. “We don’t tell them to; they compete with one another and they work hard, they work in pairs, they work in threes.” This seems at odds with an interview he gave to Forbes in 2015, in which he recalled a model asking him why she didn’t make it into the show after appearing the year before. He replied: “Every night, I see a picture of you on Instagram from a club, night after night, and every night you were doing that, Adriana Lima was jumping rope for three hours.”
The message is this: you are not good enough as you are. If you want to be an Angel you must diet and train like one – and if you do not, you are out.
“It’s pitting girls against girls, which I think is a revolting technique,” says Lawley. “Razek is trying to make it out as though he’s got nothing to do with it, which is complete bullshit. It wouldn’t happen like that normally; those girls don’t have to starve themselves like that when they’re not working for that runway.
“They all have body dysmorphia. That’s the thing: all these girls, they all have beautiful bodies; none of them need to do any of it. That’s the irony of the whole thing.”
“We would never dictate any sort of diet regimen for our models,” says a Victoria’s Secret spokesperson. “We promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Earlier this year Bridget Malcolm, who modelled in the 2015 and 2016 shows, apologised for publicising her “damaging eating habits” and exercise regime. It was an enormously brave thing to do. “Body dysmorphia is a terrifying thing,” she wrote. “I have had countless conversations with fellow models, all of whom are tiny, where they call themselves fat. It is such a hard thing to understand if you are removed from this… but when it becomes a mental game like this, it grows wings of its own.”
In 2016 another former Angel, Erin Heatherton, said she had been pressured to lose weight by the company. Despite exercising twice a day, and following a strict meal plan, she was unable to meet the targets set for her. “I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat,” she said. “I realised I couldn’t go out into the world – parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me – and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this.”
And that is where the brand unravels. Cutting out food groups, forgoing seeing friends to exercise, being unable to eat socially, obsessing about diet, size and shape: anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder will be familiar with all of the above. I spent a full year in hospital at the age of 32 trying to overcome an eating disorder that had gripped me since childhood. It is a long battle, fought every day, sometimes every second, but I know that continuing on that path does not open a door to happiness or love or safety; it is one of torture, punishment, toxic voices, broken relationships and denial. To package these behaviours as a “fantasy” shows nothing but contempt for these women.
The casting for the Victoria’s Secret shows is a humiliating ritual in which models must essentially beg for the job. Gigi Hadid virtually prostrated herself
Through it all, the models are expected to be grateful for the opportunity. The casting for the Victoria’s Secret shows is a humiliating ritual, one in which models must essentially beg for the job. The video for Gigi Hadid’s casting shows one of the most successful models virtually prostrating herself. The brand then publishes this as a marketing tool.
“I used to think about what this moment would feel like, and it’s indescribable,” her fellow model Maia Cotton says in a quote on the brand’s Instagram.
“This has been my dream since I was a little girl,” says Willow Hand. “I’ve never worked so hard or wanted something in my life so badly.”
“It’s almost like they’ve turned the Victoria’s Secret show into the American dream,” says Jerrold Blackwell, who handles new faces and scouting at Next Model Management in Los Angeles. “Once you’ve gotten to this point as a model, this is the pinnacle. You’ve made it. It’s your identity, worth and status.”
The company has not always rewarded the models with the same loyalty. In 2012 the show’s creative director, Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, was asked by the New York Times whether she would cast the “plus-size” model Kate Upton, who had already appeared in the brand’s catalogues. Upton would “never” get cast, Neophitou-Apostolou said. “She’s like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy.”
Michelle Cordeiro Grant is a former senior merchant director at Victoria’s Secret. She left in 2012 because she “started to take issue with the fact that I was working on these marketing campaigns, and I wasn’t feeling good about myself. It hit home when I got married and I had children. I said to my husband: ‘This isn’t a message I want to share with my daughter.’ ” In 2016, she started her own lingerie company, Lively, which uses a wide range of models and stories from real women in its marketing campaigns. It has been a huge success.
“Victoria’s Secret has never changed,” says Cordeiro Grant, “but the world around them has. I was walking through the subway station the other day in Manhattan, and I looked at the ad for the Angels’ ‘fantasy’ runway show and I said to myself: ‘That could be today, or 30 years ago.’ ”
Body diversity: Rihanna on the runway for her Savage x Fenty lingerie brand’s autumn-winter fashion show in New York in September. Photograph: Ilya S Savenok/Getty
Over the summer I was coming out of Oxford Street Tube station in London when something stopped me in my tracks. Women’s bodies. All different colours and ethnicities, all shapes. They had thighs and breasts and stomachs, and flesh. Soft, everyday flesh. The posters were enormous, twice the size of me. It was a celebration of women’s bodies like I had never seen in mainstream advertising. The woman behind this was Rihanna, the pop star-cum-lingerie designer, whose Savage x Fenty range has radicalised the industry. Her show at New York Fashion Week was a parade of diversity. It could not have been further removed from the sheen and pomp of Victoria’s Secret’s. The message was one of individuality and emancipation: “Women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves,” she has said.
To be fair to Victoria’s Secret, its claim that the shows have been “culturally diverse for a long time” is accurate. The show has featured models of colour since its inception, and Blackwell says the company has been asking for more of them in recent years – “particularly Asian girls, girls you don’t often see on the runway”. One model he has worked with, Aiden Curtiss, has walked for Victoria’s Secret and “does it in a really healthy and happy way”, he says. “She loves being a black woman who is able to represent on that runway.” However, it has also been accused of cultural appropriation, in particular for using Native American headdresses on the runway.
All the same, the brand is falling out of sync with the young women whose spending power it relies on. Its beloved plunge bras have been mocked for not even fitting the models who wear them. Rivals such as Savage x Fenty and American Eagles’ Aerie brand (which prides itself on avoiding airbrushing and using diverse models) are gaining more market share as women and girls look for comfort, positive reinforcement and bras that are actually comfortable. Third Love even took out a full-page advert in the New York Times this week to denounce Razek’s comments, describing itself as the “antithesis” to Victoria’s Secret.
Some models are starting to distance themselves from the show. “Feeling so much better about not doing BS… sorry, I mean VS, now that Rihanna isn’t doing it also,” Jourdan Dunn tweeted (and then deleted) after the pop star pulled out of performing in 2016.
Most fashion insiders will tell you that the Victoria’s Secret show is outdated, a relic, a product of a bygone era. But they will add that it still matters. “Doing that show could fast-track your whole career,” one model told me. Blackwell describes it as “absolutely life-changing” in terms of the opportunities it opens and the financial rewards.
Personally, I would like to see the show go the same way as plastic straws and carrier bags: shunned and boycotted. I would like to see those pop stars who preach body positivity refusing to play until the brand catches up with the times. Then I would like to see the lingerie industry reborn, using its power and influence to encourage diversity and a world where food is nourishment and exercise is for wellbeing, not punishment. A place where women can give themselves a break for once and enjoy being good enough, exactly as they are. – Guardian
Erin Heatherton, owner of possibly the best abs on the planet, was told she needed to lose weight before her most recent two Victoria’s Secret fashion shows. Just let that thought sink in for a minute.
During a recent interview with Motto, the former Victoria’s Secret model spoke about her challenges working with the lingerie giant, saying she struggled with depression while working with them.
“My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight. I look back like, ‘Really?’” Heatherton said, adding, “I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me. And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.”
Heatherton, 27, quit her gig with the brand back in 2013, basically saying that she was sick of pretending to the world it’s easy to look like a supermodel: “I couldn’t go out into the world—parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me—and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this. I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women,” she says. “It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.”
This interview comes just weeks after 27-year-old Heatherton took to Instagram to speak about her self-confidence issues, writing that she has struggled with body insecurities in a 205-word post that appears to be affiliated with Renata Mutis Black, the founder of Seven Bar Foundation and Empowered by You, an organization that encourage women to share stories of adversity to empower others.
Victoria’s Secret has yet to comment on the claims, so here’s another look at the body the lingerie brand (allegedly) thinks needs to lose weight.