Last night, you likely (for some reason) watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, despite all of the images being released a month ago when they shot it and it being the same damn thing every single year. What you saw was an hour-long advertisement for Victoria’s Secret (which CBS paid to air), punctuated by shorter advertisements for Victoria’s Secret (which Victoria’s Secret paid to air). What you may not have seen, however, was this ad that aired immediately following the conclusion of the show:
That’s an ad for Cacique lingerie by Lane Bryant, which you may recognize as a leading clothing manufacturer for bigger ladies. The placement of the ad is obvious enough, but because the hamfisted #ImNoAngel was clearly directed at Victoria’s Secret, the internet has decided that this is, somehow, controversial.
“It’s a direct dig at Victoria’s Secret, and social media is loving it. Women have jumped on the trending hashtag, posting their own photos and declarations with #ImNoAngel.”
“The ad’s four supermodels, wearing the Cacique lingerie line, suggestively whisper lines such as, ‘I mean honey, have you seen all this?’ It aims at Victoria’s Secret’s “Perfect Body” campaign, which sparked petitions opposing the images.”
“We’re not sure how Lane Bryant got such a prominent billing spot right after the show, or if VS was actually in on the body pos move after their show, but we know that repercussions of this are pretty huge. Yes, VSangels may still be the country’s obsession, but they’re not the only picture of beauty we’re getting from the media. Cacique’s models were able to follow Victoria’s Secret with a follow up message; beauty, especially sex appeal means having curves and owning them.”
I mean, what in the actual fuck? Sure, it aired after an hour-long VS commercial, and yes it was pretty obviously meant to point directly at Victoria’s Secret. But this is somehow a WORLD STARRRR-worthy jab? Popular brands imitate and or parody each other all the time, even in the case of direct competitors — and it’s safe to say that the demographics who shop for lingerie at Lane Bryant and those who shop at Victoria’s Secret overlap about as much as Gigi Hadid’s boobs.
No one’s saying that bigger women can’t be sexy, no one’s saying bigger women don’t need sexy unmentionables, and no one’s faulting Lane Bryant for extending their product offerings into that category. But to sit here and hold up this one ad as some kind of “GOTCHA” moment for Victoria’s Secret is fucking ludicrous. Oh, you’re no angel? Most women don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models? YOU DON’T SAY! The women walking that catwalk in this ridiculous outfits are who they are precisely because they’re physically remarkable. Being heaped with praise for reminding people that their bodies still have value despite being average is like, to use a girl-friendly analogy, reminding someone that their Chanel bag is nice even though it’s not a Birkin (did I get that right?).
Promoting body positivity is generally a good thing. Even if we all wish we looked like the people we see in magazines, most of us never will (even as the best versions of ourselves), and that’s something we have to live with so we might as well learn to appreciate who we are right now. And it’s true that the movement as a whole needs more than just twitter jockeys and Thought Catalogue think pieces for it to gain a foothold, but the problem is that as soon as something like this happens, it reveals a weird, divisive underbelly: “Fuck those skinny bitches, this is what REAL women look like (pls buy our shit).” That’s not body positivity, that’s a company putting the same marketing message in chubbier packaging and hoping you’re too stupid to notice.
No one cares where you buy your underpants, but you don’t get SJW points for pandering to the lowest common denominator. If that were the case, Wal-Mart would be the darling of the internet.