Why do we buy into a brand that doesn't support most bodies?

It’s Time To Stop Letting Victoria’s Secret Define What Is Beautiful

Glorifying and commodifying a specific type of body on a large-scale is damaging to women everywhere.

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Victoria's Secret is a retailer that thrives off of exclusion and maintains notions of beauty and attractiveness that are no longer as welcomed in the 21st century.

Frankly, capitalism will likely wipe out the brand when people stop buying their lingerie due to lack of support for the company.

That's the beauty of capitalism.

In fact, VS stock, which is now down 40% indicates that this type of change is coming to the lingerie marketplace, where women now value companies that promote bodily diversity and don't shame certain kinds of bodies for not adhering to the beauty standard set by Victoria's Secret.

While Victoria's Secret has increased its diversity throughout the years regarding ethnic backgrounds, the body type represented in the brand is incredibly homogenous.

The models in the show are all runway models outside of the Victoria's Secret show, meaning that they adhere to standard agency requirements. These requirements dictate a female model be at least 5'8 in height, and while weight is not often specified, models are usually between 105-120 pounds.

Any brief exploration into the models on the site will show that their measurements are around 31-34 inches in the bust, with a 22-26 inch waist and 34-36 inch hips. These measurements correspond to sizes 0-2, which are often used as sample sizes for the runway.

This article is not meant to attack their signature model, "Angels." They are beautiful women who fit the needs of the fashion industry they earn a living in. However, they are not the ONLY type of beautiful women to exist.

Further, this article is not meant to denigrate naturally thin individuals. I am a size 0 myself, so many people consider me a "thin" individual.

People might fail to understand why I disapprove of Victoria's Secret as a brand. After all, they cater to individuals with my body type, so what is there for me to complain about?

I don't fit their height requirement, meaning that I could never be one of their esteemed Angels. And you could ask yourself, "so why does that matter?"

The vast majority of women in the United States could never come close to achieving the bodily standards observed in Victoria's Angels that the brand emphasizes.

And which it's important for companies to cater to individual markets to ensure corporate diversity, Victoria's Secret remains a lingerie giant and has a massive ability in dictating national standards of beauty.

They also sell sizes beyond the XS or S displayed in the fashion show, yet fail to include bodies in the show that would fit their M, L, or XL sizes they sell in stores.

The problem with influence and lack representation coupled with their marketing strategy dictates to women that the Angel is the pinnacle of beauty. Therefore by wearing their lingerie, you get to supposedly feel like an Angel in the Victoria's Secret fantasy.

And yet, you don't.

Why?

Because even if you get sucked into their marketing scheme and buy their bras and underwear expecting to feel better about yourself, if you're not absolutely secure and completely love with your body already, you'll just recognize that you will never fit the Angel standard that you feel is expected of you to be considered beautiful.

And that when you look in the mirror, you not looking like an Angel makes you feel like a fraud.

Victoria's Secret further utilizes the term "sexy" often, meaning that wearing their lingerie is supposed to make you attractive and appealing to the opposite sex.

So not only is their brand about idealizing specific types of bodies but commodifying these particular bodies as objects of prime attractiveness to the opposite sex.

There is a consequence of presenting one body type as the most beautiful and categorizing it as incredibly sexy. For women, they risk feeling that a guy seeing them in lingerie will think of them as unattractive since they don't adhere to the epitomized beauty standard so endlessly praised in the media.

Victoria's Secret emphasizes that their show is a "fantasy." This notion of a fantasy can imply that it's not real. However, we as consumers know those models are still real people. And even if they're bronzed, made-up and thrust out onto the runway in perfect lighting, the bodies walking that runway wouldn't be there if Victoria's Secret didn't already consider them perfect before the show.

Further, Ed Razek, the Chief Marketing Officer of Creative Services of L Brands (the company that owns Victoria's Secret) responded to a question concerning bodily diversity in this manner:

"We attempted to do a television special for plus sizes (in 2000). No one had any interest in it, still don't,"

His quote is prime evidence that the minds behind Victoria's Secret do not consider bodies outside their norms interesting, nor beautiful enough to be in the spotlight.

In the eyes of Victoria's Secret, we women who don't fit the Angel model are not valued. We are not, and never will be, as attractive or as sexy since we are not, and cannot become, Angels.


To them, we are just women who chase their notions of beauty and sexiness to try and fulfill our desires to feel that way about ourselves. We remain consumers thinking that someday, maybe we will get close to or achieve that ideal and that wearing their lingerie is somehow a way to get there.

And since the vast majority of women in the United States feel insecure about their bodies, Victoria's Secret capitalizes on women's insecurities.

Brands such as ThirdLove and Savage X Fenty have made efforts to turn lingerie from devices of body standards and external validation to objects worn by women of all backgrounds for support, self-confidence, and comfortability. They've also worked to move the notion of sexiness away from something determined by the opposite sex to instead a feeling one experiences from empowering their own female sexuality.

All in all, you get to decide what companies you support, where to put your money and who you think makes the nicest lingerie.

I, along with many other women, have decided I don't want to spend my money at Victoria's Secret anymore. I've been on too long of a journey of bodily hate and self-destruction, and I feel that it is time for me to move on and surround myself in a social movement that doesn't make me feel less of a woman.

Maybe one day, Victoria's Secret will do someone to cater to the millions of women upturning their noses at their company. And if not, they may have to settle as a smaller, specialty retailer that emphasizes clothing for smaller women.

Regardless, a change in marketing could benefit their sales and stock.

Otherwise, a lot of us women are going to go elsewhere and work to redefine what it means to be beautiful.

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An Open Letter To The Meadville Medical Center And Its ER Staff

When did kindness become a deserved thing in the healthcare field; and only if you're not on drugs?
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Yes, that cover picture is me, coming off a ventilator...at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, a two-hour drive from my house, not at Meadville Medical Center.

This is very difficult to write. We live in a small town, and you are the only hospital for over twenty miles. In fact, I live so close to you, that I can see your rooftop from my back garden. I can walk to you in about ten minutes if it’s not overly humid out. The Life Flights pass over my house as they arrive at and leave your facility, and my young daughter and I pray for every one of them.

My daughter had to call an ambulance on May 30th, as I had a sharp and horrible pain overtake me so suddenly, that I thought my neighbor (who I threatened to report for dealing drugs) had shot me through the dining room window at first. There was no blood to be seen, but the pain was so severe, that combined with the cold sweats and dizziness, I was genuinely afraid I was about to die.

I can’t express in words how proud I was of my girl as she explained to the 911 operator what was the matter and where we lived. She was brave and helpful as they took a blood sample, handled what I later learned was a seizure, and kindly got me into the ambulance from my difficult entryway. She called her Auntie and calmly told her to meet me at the ER. And while memories of the horrible experience I had in your ER twenty years ago still haunted me, the care and attention the ambulance drivers showed me encouraged me that I would be okay.

If only.

There were so many people, and I was half delirious with pain and inexplicable symptoms. Thank God my sister in law, Sheri, was there to help me fight for my life. For the sake of our small town and six degrees of separation, I will call them Nurse A, B, C, and D, and Doctor H. Your staff literally, unapologetically bullied me within an inch of my life.

When I arrived, it was apparently Nurse A who triumphantly announced to everyone involved in my care that I was on drugs, case closed. Despite Sheri and I repeatedly telling them that I hadn’t taken any narcotics, and I won’t take anything stronger than Motrin 800, they persisted in asking what I took. At one point I heard Sheri saying, “She does everything naturally, you're wasting time.” No one cared.

When Nurse A informed me that they needed a urine test, I told her to straight cath me, as I couldn’t stand up. It was Nurse A who told Doctor H that I faked two seizures on the way from my house (I am still amazed by her mystical powers that she could surmise this), and insisted again that I was faking everything. With utter disgust Doctor H said, “She can stand, get her up.” At Sheri’s protest, Nurse A reiterated, “If she can move her legs she can stand.” My legs, which were almost involuntarily moving to find relief from the pain in my abdomen, gave out on me when she insisted I put myself on the bedside commode. I passed out again and urinated on her.

When I woke up to Sheri frantically calling my name, I was greeted by an absolutely disgusted Nurse A, who complained that she needed to go change her clothes, and rolled her eyes at my faking another seizure. She informed everyone who came in next that I was faking these symptoms, and four attempts to straight cath me failed. In that moment, I was sure I was going to die.

Everything after that came in blurry and fragmented vignettes, like an awful out of body experience. There were Nurses B through D or more, all repeatedly asking me what drugs I took. Everyone scowled and frowned, passing on the information that I was faking everything. There were four of these nurses when I woke up on the way to a scan, and all but one asking me what drugs I took, and telling me to stop faking as I hysterically screamed that I could not breathe when I lay flat. I was terrified, confused, out of my mind, and unable to breathe when I lay flat, and they reported that “she hyperventilated herself” in the scan lab.

All the while, Sheri valiantly insisted they would find no drugs in the blood work, and that I probably hadn’t been to a family doctor in years. I lay in your ER cubicle and reconciled myself to God, convinced that I was going to die and be labeled a drug addict.

At some point, something shifted, and suddenly I received the blanket I had asked for hours before. Apparently, my temperature had dropped so low, their fancy thermometers couldn’t read anything. I remember a young man trying to find a vein and saying, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m not trying again.” My head was elevated, and the panic of not being able to breathe alleviated somewhat.

Suddenly Doctor H was almost kind, and I heard him telling Sheri something about “a mass” and “blood in her abdomen” and how some other hospital was better equipped to help me. She told me she okay-ed it, and I recall telling her, “I trust you. Just get me out of here.”

In fact, knowing someone else would care for me gave me such peace, that I literally lay completely still as an older man inserted an IV line into my neck with no anesthesia.

We assume the blood work came back and the scan verified what we desperately tried to tell everyone from the beginning; I wasn’t on or seeking drugs. But there was no apology from Nurse A, her fellow nurses, or Doctor H. I may be corrected, but I spent five or six hours in your ER defending myself to the same people who should have been fighting for my life.

As I lay there, talking to Yeshuale, three people in what looked like tactical suits came alongside my bed. The first was a woman who looked like she was speaking into a walkie talkie. Behind her two men. I thought to myself “Oh, state cops. I guess I’m just going to die in prison.” I was so out of it, confused and weary of being asked what drugs I took, I believed your ER staff had called the police and they had come to take me away. All I could think of was what would become of my young daughter.

Thank God, I was mistaken. The blonde woman wasn’t a police officer, but part of the helicopter team, on the phone with Magee in Pittsburgh so she could begin administering blood to me. Blood. Something your staff considered less important than accusing me of using and seeking some weird drugs. Behind her, a tall, blonde man smiled at me and explained that he was taking me in a helicopter and I would be fine. It was like hearing from an angel, and I remember saying, “Todah, Yeshuale!” repeatedly in my head and in a whisper. “Thank You, Jesus!”

Four blocks away, my daughter and the friend she was staying with waved as we flew over my house.

To my surprise, I woke up two days later, attached to a ventilator, one of my sister friends sitting beside my bed. I learned that I’d had two masses in my uterus, which tore itself open and bled into my abdomen. I’d lost four liters of blood and had a transfusion in the Life Flight. When they took the vent out, (my friend took the picture above) I made a joke about being a tough Jersey girl as I signed to the ICU nurse, but inside I was an emotional wreck. Still, as the days went on, I determined to treat everyone with kindness, and was treated the same way at every turn.

Kindness. The one thing I never received from your staff.

What was so special about me that your staff felt interrogating me about my apparent drug use was more important than helping me? My address? Because for some reason all the drug dealers in town seem to want to take over my block? So, we’re all on drugs, then? Do you realize that half my neighbors brag about going to your ER to get pain pills, and how easy it is? I never asked for anything but a Tylenol, and that was on the Life Flight. So, again I ask, what made me so unique?

And, I must say, it’s not even that your staff didn’t believe me. They were mean, hateful even. Rolling their eyes, talking about me like I wasn’t there, saying everything I did was a ruse to get drugs. When did it become okay to treat anyone like that? How was it alright for your nurse to walk in and determine that I was on drugs? How was it alright for her to set the tone of disbelief, unkindness, and abuse? How was it alright for the doctor to allow this and roll with it?

Yes, I said abuse. When someone is screaming that they can’t breathe and you tell them to stop faking, that is abuse. When you berate someone, and accuse them of something to the point where they believe they’re being taken to jail to die, that’s abuse. When you refuse to give someone a blanket, hold them down to the point where they’re bruised, that’s abuse. When you waste time to the point where an ambulance won’t get to the next hospital fast enough… that’s abuse. Your staff verbally, emotionally, and physically abused me.

Not only were they abusive, but they were comfortable with it. Your staff was comfortable with it, and didn’t care what it would cost me or my family. All but one nurse, who Sheri now tells me insisted that there was something wrong with me and took me for the scan. That nurse saved my life. People are comfortable with abuse because they get away with it. Abusers get smug, arrogant and even careless, because those they abuse say nothing. Your staff was smug, rude and uncaring to the point that they displayed a sick sort of disgust for me that was completely obvious. My sister in law later confirmed to me that it wasn’t all in my head.

At what point did this behavior become acceptable? Is it because you’re the only hospital for a 30-minute drive?

And, so what if I had been seeking drugs or high on some unknown concoction? Would that have made it okay for your staff to treat me thusly? Would Nurse A have been justified in declaring my altered state and treating me like garbage? Would Doctor H have been justified in how he treated me? When did nursing and healing give anyone that sort of power? When did people cease to be worthy of kindness, quality health care and gentleness based upon their drug use, or the address they live at?

When did you decide who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and who does not? When did your medical staff earn that right to decide also?

If we’re completely honest, most of the people I know who abuse pills go to your ER at least once bimonthly to get refills. Your ER physicians pass out opioid scripts like candy and then mistreat the people they’re supplying? Thanks to you, I must hide the pain medication I loathe to take now, because someone will surely break in to my home and steal them if they know I have them. You, and other hospitals like you, are feeding addicts and creating innocent bystander victims like me, but that’s another conversation.

This is difficult to write, because you have your hooks in all over this town. This is difficult to write, because the trauma of that night is still fresh in my mind, and I often cry when I think about it. This is difficult to write, because the reality that I have had to now teach my child to ask any ambulance we ever need to call again to take us to Erie shouldn’t be necessary. This is difficult to write, but it needs to be said, especially since I’ve been finding out that I’m not the only person this has happened to.

You need to address these issues. You need to stop handing out scripts like promotional coupons, and perhaps you won’t have nurses and doctors assuming everyone’s on drugs or seeking them. You need to discourage the abusive and toxic behavior of your staff, and hold them accountable when patients complain. Let me put this into perspective for you: I’m pretty sure Nurse A is the same age as my oldest daughter, and my child would eat mud before she treated anyone like that. Why? Because my kids were never allowed to behave that way in the first place, but to stay on topic, she grew up with consequences, and as an adult still recognizes their severity.

As the events of that night become clearer to me, and I continue my peaceful, miraculous recovery at home, I am determined not to hold on to bitterness about what happened to me at your ER. I am determined to make the most of the second chance at life I’ve been given, and leave your abusive staff in the past. I’ll probably pass some of them in the super market, or sit behind them in church, our town is so small. And while you and your toxic staff will cease to haunt my future, I will surely haunt yours. Nurse A, Doctor H, and Nurses B through whatever… will never forget the night the woman with the blue hair nearly died because they were too busy wrongly judging to actually care.

I am determined to walk out the rest of my life in kindness, the very discussion I had in a blackout with God while your nurse accused me of faking a seizure. I will pray, hoping with all hope that kindness will once again be requisite for employment in your ER and every area of your corporation. Believe me, it’s possible and good for profits. The entire time I spent in Pittsburgh at Magee I never encountered a single unkind staff member from the surgeons to the housekeepers.

I know you can do it.

Cover Image Credit: Heidi Owens

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I Reached My Weight Loss Goal, And You Can, Too

It's only impossible if you think it is.

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Would you believe I used to be 235 lbs? Me neither. Today is a special occasion for me because I have reached my goal of 160 lbs. I can now begin my next goal to 155 and then start building muscle. However, just because I was able to shed all that weight does not mean you can't do it too. Losing weight is difficult, but definitely not impossible and I dare anyone that is stuck in a rut in weight loss to go beyond their limits in exercising. So let's see my journey of how I got here and how anyone else can be this successful too.

Discipline and moderation is the main thing you need to practice. When I was 235 lbs, I was not eating the right foods. I found myself stuffing my face with junk food and high carb foods. When you don't use the short term energy, it gets stored as body fat. So I began to cut down on processed sugars and carbs and replaced it with vegetables. They are great craving killers and have helped eliminate the cravings for junk food.

It also doesn't help that I was also doing drugs. Being a former smoker and drinker, I can say that smoking cigarettes is the final nail in the coffin to bad health. You can be the most active person but alcohol and drugs will hold you back from losing weight. It gives you a ton of energy that is limited and will give you a crash when it's all used up. With therapeutic help for tobacco and alcohol and drug abuse, I will not even sniff a cigarette anymore.

Eating and drinking at night and quitting drugs is a great first start, but that's not the only way to shed fat.

Making a habit of working out and going to the gym on a consistent basis is the next most important thing you can do to lose weight. When I was dieting, I was strictly just dieting and not going to the gym. Then I started going to the gym. I started off just going twice a week and got stuck in a rut with weight loss. Then, two days became three, three became four, and now I go to the gym a bare minimum of five days a week. If I know I can't go to the gym one day, I double up the next day.

As far as the time at the gym goes, try to shoot for at least an hour. You can go to the gym for just a half hour and work your ass off and still get great results. More time in the gym does not equal better results.

But doing the same workout every day is the formula for a plateau. I alternate every day. One day, I lift weights and then the next day, I do cardio. When you do cardio the next day and your muscles are recovering from the previous day, they're burning fat and calories from your body. Doing cardio the next day burns off any extra fat on your body.

Working out makes or breaks your weight loss journey, but I saved the best for last when it comes to weight loss...liquid consumption.

Liquid consumption is last on here because honestly, there are not a lot of healthy drinks out there for you, but the ones that are healthy will skyrocket your results. The best thing you can drink is obviously water. Your body is 65, 70, don't know the exact number, sometimes pushing 80% water. Give your body what it needs and just abuse yourself with water daily.

If you have cravings, drinking a lot of water will get rid of those cravings because it fills your stomach up and flushes the unhealthy toxins out of your body. When I first started drinking a minimum of 10 cups of water a day, I lost 15 lbs because that's how much alcohol and pop I was drinking and all the water flushed it out. Some drinks you want to stay away from when trying to lose weight pop, alcohol, and fruit juices obviously but believe it or not, coffee is another one. The caffeine gives you limited energy and when it runs out, you have that crash where you are weak.

You can lose weight drinking black coffee, but I recommend staying away from it because you can still get caffeine cravings and what else has caffeine? Pop and alcohol. You will have a bunch more natural energy drinking water, eating the right foods, and getting the right amount of sleep. Give your body what it needs.

Weight loss is a time-consuming process that involves a hell of a lot of pain and anger and sweat and tears, but you will thank yourself later. People may call 5'7" 160 too skinny, but I say it's not enough. You know when I say it's enough? When I say it's enough.

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