Online advertising rakes in approximately $149 billion as an industry, and it’s no secret that Victoria’s Secret is one of the bigger companies advertising. However, there are some secrets that shouldn’t be kept.
A former Victoria’s Secret photo editor, who chose to remain anonymous, has come forward with trade secrets about the company’s photoshop and photo shoot practices.
“I know what I’m doing is wrong and that’s a huge part of why I’m not doing it full-time anymore,” she said. She wants consumers, especially those purchasing products and media from Victoria’s Secret and companies like it, to understand just how unreal the bodies in catalogs are.
At the same time, she urges consumers to understand their own roles in propagating these images.
“As a society,” she says, “we’re the ones who choose this.”
Photoshop existed long before the Victoria’s Secret angels were being retouched, but the anonymous photo editor explained in an interview with Refinery 29 how it spun “out of control.”
“Just for it to print out properly, you would have to retouch it so that you could see the photo clearly, and it would be bright enough, and all those things,” she explained. “That is really what retouching is essentially about, and should be about.” But at some point, someone realized, “You can manipulate the background, so why not manipulate the body? And then this thing just spiraled out of control.”
She went on to discuss the on-set process, in which models were fitted with hair extensions, swimsuit inserts to alter their curves, and even push-up bras inside of their swimsuit tops.
“I don’t think I ever was on a shoot with a model that had real hair,” she said.
Not only that, but she was consistently told to make models curvier. On curvier models, she said “they didn’t sell anything and so they stopped using those girls.”
The one biggest and brightest exception to this rule is Aerie.
In 2014, the company launched the “Aerie Real” campaign, in which they stopped all photo editing of their models. Unfortunately, the campaign was a sales strategy, but consumer support has turned it into a larger movement.
Iskra Lawrence, an Aerie model who was told by countless modeling agencies that she was “too big,” has taken the campaign to heart and used it to promote body positivity in young women around the world.
“When you’re happy and at one with yourself and have come to peace with who you are, that radiates,” she said in an interview with StyleLikeU. “To me that’s beauty. That’s what people are attracted to.”
The supermodel has become a role model for young people everywhere, spreading messages of positivity through her work with Aerie as well as through her own personal social media accounts and interviews.
Lawrence even serves as an ambassador for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), and coordinated a successful campaign to acquire the NEDA seal of approval for Aerie.
On the “Aerie Real” campaign, Jen Foyle, Aerie’s global brand president, said “No retouching is not just a campaign for us anymore. It’s become our mindset and the message behind all we do.”
“When you see things like that pop up, you should vote your money towards it, because then they see it as a money-making thing and they’ll continue to do it,” said the former Victoria’s Secret editor. “Then, hopefully, other companies will say, ‘Aerie is doing really well. Maybe we’ll start doing that, too. Maybe people will want to buy more stuff from us.'”