Victoria’s Secret Models vs. Football Cheerleaders

Gregg Easterbrook, who was as interesting in-person at Claremont as he is on his ESPN.com column, makes a good point:

…It’s far from clear the Victoria’s Secret visual ideal is even sexy, and I don’t mean those ridiculous angel wings. The majority of models in the company’s television specials and catalogs appear emaciated: not just a tad thin, but unhealthy. Most of them look as though they really need a milkshake but would be too weak to lift the glass. Why does extolling gauntness work as a sales strategy? Forget Victoria’s Secret lingerie models, give me pro sports cheerleaders as a sex symbol any day. NFL and NBA cheerleaders are fit, strong, confident and athletic — check the dance moves of the Philadelphia Eagles or Miami Heat cheerleaders, among others. All pro cheerleaders, plus most in college and many in high school, can drop and give you 25 straight-legged pushups. Obviously, pro cheerleaders are an impossible ideal in their own way: In the real world, no woman can always look great and always be smiling and outgoing. But cheerleaders are a positive archetype of fitness, confidence and upbeat life. Contrast that to the women in the Victoria’s Secret runway shows, who seem miserable.

Agreed. Runway models, to me, are usually unattractive. Ultra-skinny is overrated. Yet women — especially on college campuses — seem obsessed about becoming even skinnier, maybe because they see Victoria’s Secret ads and think the models represent the idealized feminine form for all men.

(hat tip to Newmark’s Door)

9 Responses to Victoria’s Secret Models vs. Football Cheerleaders

  1. The camera adds pounds, so just think what those walking sticks really look like.

    We can thank Mary Quant (who brought us the miniskirt and hotpants) and the English model called Twiggy for the emaciated, short-haired androgynous look as an exemplar of runway ‘beauty’.

    Twiggy became a sensation in England in 1966 and first hit public consciousness in the U.S. when she arrived in New York in 1967.

    The starved look as an icon in pop culture can be seen as a postmodern negation of femininity– pathologically thin women become infertile.

    Personally, I see high fashion itself as a negation of common sense and human decency.

    The front page of the Victoria’s Secret site promotes the big busted, narrow-hipped Barbie-doll look, an unrealistic ‘ideal’ that actually seems less hateful of femininity than haute couture’s ironic take on womanhood.

    If you ask me, those Pamela Anderson clones who inhabit the adolescent fantasies of horny American straight men are sexier than the boyish waifs on the runways.

  2. Olga says:

    I don’t know, I really don’t like the bad rep that super models get. They are beautiful! Calling these women, who basically have devoted their lives to the physical and mental hardship of surviving in that industry, “walking sticks” and such? Not that I am protecting eating disorders OR the horrible belief that curvy is ugly. Curvy is gorgeous—and so is skinny.

    Though the eating disorders, etc, are really awful and I wish the public eye had a more healthy outlook on beauty, the average American is NOT in the natural human condition. Humans, naturally, are quite skinny, muscular, and sinewy–we’ve just couched/laptoped/twinkied our way into obesity. And no, I don’t think that’s attractive, or something to protect.

  3. Speak for yourself, Olga.

    I’m skinny, muscular, and sinewy– and I’ve never “couched/laptoped/twinkied” my way into obesity.

    At least big-boob fetishism exalts something worthy of worship– the source of mother’s milk.;-)

  4. Alex says:

    I am an avid Greg Easterbrook fan as well, but it’s really quite clear from his columns that he’s a huge dork. Not in a bad way, but I mean, some of his ponits are just straight up absurd. Each week he’ll make some anayltical or scientific point and then show how it’s blatantly ignored in movies and popular culture. For example, he had a long argument about how the Monster in Cloverfield couldn’t have physically existed. Um, Greg, it’s a MOVIE buddy, no shit it probably isn’t able to actually exist in real life.
    I think his points are quasi-the same for his cheerleader arguments. He makes the same points about cheerleaders being better that VS models every single week. I get the feeling that at some point in his life he was turned down by a model and has a grudge. VS models are smokeshows, many cheerleaders are too, but I’d say he’s not really talking about anything original.
    I will say that I look forward to his TMQ articles each week. It’s those dorky characteristics I talk about above that makes him enjoyable.

  5. Married Guy says:

    You want ultra sexy? Women’s volleyball (heavy cardio combined with strength and reflex), womens synchronized swimming (overall toned bodies, but not scary Russian weightlifter toned), womens snowboarding (same deal, overall tone, balance, reflexes). Competition ballroom dancing, 3-4 minutes of 100% exertion, they come off the floor trembling and sweating (the men too). Give me an athletic lady in a well rounded sport any day over a model.

  6. The fashion industry has everything to do with how girls view each other and very little with how things actually appeal to males (Victoria’s Secret aside. Easterbrook’s point would have been strengthened if had taken on the Prada type instead).
    Take a survey of 100 heterosexual males and more than 95% will agree that the skinny model would look better if her ribs weren’t so prominent.

    It all goes back to evolutionary biology and the way that men and women compete/value attraction.

    Gross simplification:

    Men want someone youthful and attractive because of the increased health/ability to birth children. Emaciated women usually not the most physically healthy lot and thus have gotten evolutionary slap of the “less attractive than they would be otherwise” stick.

    Women are slightly more complicated.

    From my experience girls will compete over a guy based solely on the fact that other girls find him attractive (“If she is interested, there must be something worthwhile in him and I should try to win him for myself”). Of course this logic is entirely subconscious, but that doesn’t matter when it people still act on what their brain is telling them.

    How is that related to fashion?
    A few highly influential women/gay men created an image and have done an incredible job marketing. The hordes of current femininity have latched onto the idea of fashion as being an important and what heterosexual men think about it has no relevance at all.
    Many girl say that they care about fashion for themselves, but really it is about impressing other girls.

  7. @ “The fashion industry has everything to do with how girls view each other and very little with how things actually appeal to males…”

    I think Travis is right.

    A long time ago, a guy who grew up with five older sisters told me that women dress for each other, not men.

    My experience has confirmed his observation.

    “A few highly influential women/gay men created an image and have done an incredible job marketing.”

    Dead on.

  8. Jo says:

    I see Travis has not met a single woman ever. And buddy, you don’t need to do the silly defensive thing guys do when they insecurely try to use “science” to justify their personal preferences. Thin looks healthy, not fat, and small hips look delicate and feminine. Big hips look matronly, not youthful at all.

    Anyway, what is this dude talking about? Has he ever seen a VS model? Those women are stunning and in better shape than any of us. Cheerleaders are crazy overrated. Average looking women wearing lots of makeup and smiling as hard as they can in booty shorts. Boring. you sound like the cliche 80s nerdy 15 year old hero who lusts after the popular cheerleader because all his buddies are and he wants to fit in.

    VS girls take their health seriously and if you consider a healthy normal looking woman like Miranda Kerr (who is flat out religious about her health) or Candice Swanepoel (best figure ever) or essentially any of them clearly you’ve been duped into thinking obesity is the norm and so any woman who can actually see her toes because her gut isn’t in the way. Thin is natural and beautiful. I have no idea why you seem to think they look so different anyway, but I suspect this is just single guys who can’t get a date and secretly resent women for it grasping for ways to pit women against each other.

  9. Jo says:

    *that any woman is too thin, I forgot to add.

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