Wednesday 19 September 2018

Meet this year's crop of Victoria's Secret models - but would it kill them to hire a plus-size model?

(L to R) Georgia Fowler, Nadine Leopold, Sadie Newman and Kelly Gale will walk in the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
(L to R) Georgia Fowler, Nadine Leopold, Sadie Newman and Kelly Gale will walk in the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Ashley Graham attends the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards at Brooklyn Museum on June 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Austrian model Nadine Leopold arrives on May 17, 2018 for the amfAR 25th Annual Cinema Against AIDS gala at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, during the 71th Cannes Film Festival. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP)
Barbara Palvin attends as Harper's BAZAAR Celebrates "ICONS By Carine Roitfeld" at the Plaza Hotel on September 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Harper's Bazaar)
Winnie Harlow is seen outside of 6 St. John Lane during IMG NYFW: The Shows 2018 at Spring Studios on September 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMG)
Alannah Walton attends the "ANGELS" by Russell James book launch and exhibit hosted by Cindy Crawford and Candice Swanepoel at Stephan Weiss Studio on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Barbara Palvin walks the red carpet ahead of the 'Suspiria' screening during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 1, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
Shanina Shaik attends as Harper's BAZAAR Celebrates "ICONS By Carine Roitfeld" at the Plaza Hotel on September 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Harper's Bazaar)
Street style: Kelly Gale
Model Nadine Leopold attends casting for the 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Midtown on August 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by TheStewartofNY/GC Images)
Street style: Georgia Fowler
Street style: Sadie Newman
Street style: Shanina Shaik
Street style: Winnie Harlow
Devon Windsor(L) and Nadine Leopold as Harper's BAZAAR Celebrates "ICONS By Carine Roitfeld" at the Plaza Hotel on September 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Harper's Bazaar)
Ashley Graham attends Daily Front Row's Fashion Media Awards on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images for The Daily Front Row)
Winnie Harlow attends as Harper's BAZAAR Celebrates "ICONS By Carine Roitfeld" at the Plaza Hotel on September 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Harper's Bazaar)
Nadine Leopold attends as Harper's BAZAAR Celebrates "ICONS By Carine Roitfeld" at the Plaza Hotel on September 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Harper's Bazaar)
(L-R) Shanina Shaik, Nadine Leopold, Devon Windsor, Caroline Lowe, Olivia Culpo and Daniela Braga attend as E!, ELLE & IMG celebrate the Kick-Off To NYFW: The Shows at The Pool on September 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for IMG)
(L-R) Victoria's Secret models Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Lily Donaldson depart for Paris for the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on November 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
Ashley Graham
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

We are, once again, approaching that exciting time of year: the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

The lingerie giants, who are arguably the best marketers in the business, have elevated the show to near mythical status - walking in it, even for one year, can be a game changer for your career. It is the show that elevated Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to new levels of supermodeldom and every 5'10" gazelle who hears the news that they've snagged a spot in the annual show is hoping to emulate their idols' success.

There's a reason it remains the pinnacle of most models' career, thought - the effect an affiliation with VS on your personal brand cannot be underestimated. Case in point: outside of the industry, no one knew who Stella Maxwell was before she became an Angel. Since her first show in 2015, she has been named Maxim's Sexiest Woman Alive, featured on five Vogue covers and most recently launched an eponymous handbag line with The Kooples.

Over the years, as Victoria's Secret is still finding the balance in a changing industry awash with influencers and 'social media supermodels', it has routinely come under fire for featuring models with large Instagram followings over those who have casted four years in a row never to make the cut even once.

(L-R) Shanina Shaik, Nadine Leopold, Devon Windsor, Caroline Lowe, Olivia Culpo and Daniela Braga attend as E!, ELLE & IMG celebrate the Kick-Off To NYFW: The Shows at The Pool on September 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for IMG)
(L-R) Shanina Shaik, Nadine Leopold, Devon Windsor, Caroline Lowe, Olivia Culpo and Daniela Braga attend as E!, ELLE & IMG celebrate the Kick-Off To NYFW: The Shows at The Pool on September 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for IMG)

The decision to include Kendall Jenner and Gigi and Bella Hadid in one show was too much to take for some corners of the internet.

It is trying to move with the times and like every other business, there is no blueprint for guaranteed success. It is increasingly self-aware though, which makes it all the more perplexing that they continue to ignore the plus-size market. Among the new recruits confirmed to appear in this year's show include first-timers like Sadie Newman and Kelsey Merritt, with the return of the likes of Barbara Palvin, Shanina Shaik and Kelly Gale.

Amid the excitement on Instagram yesterday, with most newbies sharing videos of the moment they heard the news, it became clear that this year wasn't going to be the year for size diversity as a barrage of beautiful women with interchangeable bodies celebrated the accomplishment.

Your physique is the main selling point at the audition, during which, casting agents will ask how much you've been working out (they already know from your Insta stories). And if you're lucky enough to be cast, you are then projected as the pinnacle of health and fitness.

(L-R) Martha Hunt,Jasmine Tookes,Taylor Hill, Josephine Skriver,Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid pose backstage during 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on November 30, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)
(L-R) Martha Hunt,Jasmine Tookes,Taylor Hill, Josephine Skriver,Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid pose backstage during 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on November 30, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)

But there's nothing healthy about working out up to three times a day and restricting your calorie intake to get that 'naturally' lean look you'll display in your smalls sashaying down a runway in December.

It's fitting that the announcement of some of this year's models was made the same week the media became downright obsessed with Tess Holliday's Cosmopolitan cover. The size-26 model appeared on cover of the UK edition of the magazine posing unashamedly in a swimsuit and people were beside themselves with either praise for both the magazine and the model for being unapologetic in her size and those criticising what they believe to be the glorification of obesity.

It's a fight in which no one really comes out a winner.

With that kind of talking point for a publication with a 400,000 circulation, can you imagine the knock-on effect that a brand like Victoria's Secret featuring a woman, just as unashamedly, walking down the runway with even a hint of cellulite, would have? The possibilities would be endless. Not to mention lucrative.

Plus, you just know that Ashley Graham is chomping at the bit to wear those wings and begin the next phase of her world domination.

Ashley Graham
Ashley Graham

Online Editors

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