The Victoria’s Secret “Angel” Diet

Recently, supermodel Adriana Lima talked to the UK newspaper, Telegraph, telling the paper what it takes to get ready for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show–including months of intense daily and sometimes twice-daily workouts and a gallon of water a day. The Telegraph reports:

“She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes – ‘no solids.’ The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and ‘just drink normally.’ Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely. ‘No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,’ she says.”

The comments got a lot of attention, and Lima issued a statement urging “teenagers” not to follow her suit. But she also defended her practice as a form of athleticism:

” ‘I know it’s very intense but … I just have an athlete’s mind and I appreciate doing this thing [the Victoria’s Secret Show],’ she said. ‘It’s not that I do crazy diets throughout the year. I just do it for this particular thing. After this show, I become normal again.’ “

I find this whole story really, really distressing for a number of reasons.

First, I think Lima’s insistence that she “becomes normal” is pretty obviously disingenuous. Okay, maybe she is not on a liquid diet every day, but it is almost impossible to believe that disordered eating isn’t her norm. Second, Lima’s awareness that there are “teenagers out there” that are watching and listening to her, and her apparent concern that they don’t go “starving themselves” (like she does) makes it all the more frustrating that she chooses to do the work that she does–promoting a ridiculously thin and and sculpted look that’s a direct result of (professionally managed but nonetheless sick) disorder.

But actually, I think I have to applaud Lima for her honesty in revealing the extreme measures it takes to maintain that kind of look. After all, it’s NOT her fault. It’s the result of a system that values that look and won’t hire ‘real’ women for their “angels.”

Finally, I am distressed that her comments and this show garner so much attention. (Look! I’m even writing about it here!) Even leaving aside the (huge) issue of the objectification of women in fashion, and the (laughably old-fashioned?) question of modesty, I’m dismayed that such distortions of God-given humanness and beauty are still popular and prevalent as ever. From foot-binding to corsets to cosmetic surgery to fashion shows, we are constantly bombarded with messages that equate beauty and worth with a narrow, un-real ideal.

{This is one reason–among others–why Victoria’s Secret never gets any of my money.}

2 thoughts on “The Victoria’s Secret “Angel” Diet

  1. Rachel,

    You need to keep writing about this and sounding the clarion call! Thank you for this informed and well-reasoned post

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