As I’m sure you’re all aware, last night was the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, during which the world’s hottest lingerie models spent an hour strutting down the runway in thigh-highs and wings, inspiring the lust of men and the envy of women everywhere. In college, my friends and I had a tradition of watching the show every year. We’d count down to it for days and have a girls’ night watching it while we drank wine and judged the angels…and ourselves. We’d be jealous of the models, of course. One of us would say that she wished she had a flatter stomach, another would envy a model’s legs, and another would be jealous of that coveted hourglass figure. We’d tell each other that by this time next year, we’d look just like them. We’d commit to eating nothing but smoothies and Diet Coke, and we’d stick with it for a week or so, but then Christmas break would come, and our bodies would stay the same — healthy, thin, but not up to par with a VS model. We’d still be fine with ourselves until the fashion show came around the following year and we’d remember the bodies we failed to attain.
You think you know where this is going. You think I’m going to say that I didn’t watch the fashion show to make a statement. That I didn’t tune in, because I want girls everywhere to stop holding themselves to unattainable standards and that we shouldn’t spend time hating ourselves, because no matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to match what society tells us is beautiful, sexy, and desirable.
That’s not what happened. I didn’t watch the fashion show, because I didn’t care.
Last night, I made plans with my old roommate. We went out to coffee and spent two hours catching up on our lives. We joked, and laughed, and reminisced, and lived in our real lives instead of a virtual universe of hatred, despair, lust, envy, or self-validation. Neither one of us mentioned the show, because it didn’t cross either of our minds. We lived our lives and had a great time being ourselves, and I wouldn’t change a second of it.
Social media both last night and today are blowing up with two strong opinions about the fashion show. On one hand, girls everywhere are talking about the show with envy, wishing they looked like the models. On the other, girls are protesting, saying that the VS show is the root of all evil, causing girls everywhere to have negative perceptions of themselves and continuing the media’s stereotypical beliefs about what’s beautiful and what’s not.
The point is, it’s time to stop caring about other people’s ideals and focus on yourself. So you watched the show? That’s awesome. I hope you thought things like, “Ooh, I love that lingerie. I’m buying it,” “She has great abs. I’m going to start working out,” or even, “She looks great. Good for her.” So you didn’t watch the show? That’s awesome. I hope you didn’t watch it because you were out living your life, not making a social media protest. The problem isn’t the media and the emphasis it places on beauty. The problem is us. The problem is getting so wrapped up in it, one way or another, that we forget that we’re real people with real lives. We forget to live. Watch the show or not. Either decision doesn’t make you wrong or evil. Just live your own life, be happy with yourself, and stop wasting your youth comparing yourself to everyone else. You’ll thank me for it later, I promise.
Image via Fashion Gone Rogue