Ex-Victoria’s Secret model speaks out against the brand and unsurprisingly, it’s not good
07th Jul 2021
Ex-Victoria’s Secret model Bridget Malcolm has spoken out against the brand, commenting that their “performative allyship is a joke”.
Once considered to be a global phenomenon, people have slowly wisened to the misogynistic and frankly, very problematic ways of the Victoria’s Secret world. Lifting the lid on the seedy underbelly of the highly glamourised lingerie brand, several models have spoken out about their time working for the company – the most recent including Bridget Malcolm.
Already having walked the VS runway on two separate occasions – she featured in both their 2015 and 2016 shows – the Australian native made waves a couple of weeks ago after a video she posted online went viral. Detailing her experience of being cut from the lineup because she had gone up a bra size, Malcolm said that Ed Razek (one of the top executives at L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret) rejected her on the basis that her body “didn’t look good enough”.
Going from a size 30A to a 30B, Razek not only deemed her unworthy of participating in the 2017 show, but he made no secret of it either. Now a 34B (what she describes as a “healthy” size for her), Malcolm proceeded to try an old bra she previously modeled on to demonstrate just how slight she was at the time. Also including several photos of herself from her VS days, she captioned the video, “Look how big it was on me. The sadness behind my eyes from the 2016 show breaks my heart.”
Calling the brand out for their “performative allyship”, the video forms part of a series of others in which the model aims to highlight “times the fashion industry has sucked”. Taking to social media again this week, she followed her initial TikTok up with yet another, this one delving even further into the decidedly unglamorous side of her career.
Addressing questions from viewers as to why it is that she’s only speaking out now, Malcolm responded by saying that it’s taken her years to work through past trauma. “By the age of 18, I’d lived in three countries alone. I traveled to all continents except for Antarctica. I’d been groomed by a much older man. I’d been sexually assaulted multiple times,” she revealed.
Developing PTSD as a result of the huge amount of pressure she was under, she went on to speak about how former agents had advised her to use cocaine and “just have lots of sex to lose weight”… this while she was still a minor.
“I was struggling with my gender identity and I developed anorexia and orthorexia and anxiety and depression. I couldn’t socialise without drinking and was developing quite the reliance on Xanax and Ambien to get me through the night – and that was before I turned 18.”
Could things get worse? Unfortunately, yes they could and it all came to a head just a few years later. “Eight years later on my 26th birthday I had a nervous breakdown and I couldn’t leave my house for a year without panic attacks and severe anxiety. I also had a bout with suicidal ideation which was terrifying,” she admitted.
Thankfully, the model is in a much better place now. Two plus years sober, she’s also four years in recovery from her disorder eating and is happy to report that she is “balanced”, “strong” and feeling the best she ever has.
“The reality is I couldn’t talk about my experiences before I reached this place because I would have intense PTSD flashbacks. I would have panic attacks and I wouldn’t be okay. But I am okay now and that’s why I’m speaking out. I am in solid recovery and I am strong enough for any backlash and I wasn’t before this.
“The only reason why I am doing this is because I am a strong believer that the fashion industry needs to change. I’m one of the lucky models, I was able to make a long career out of the fashion industry, but my job should not include abuse. And that is why I’m speaking up now,” she finished.
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While Victoria’s Secret definitely aren’t the only culpable ones in the industry, they’re amongst some of the most notorious. Regularly criticised for their lack of representation and for promoting unrealistic body/beauty ideals, they recently made headlines yet again last month… this time hoping to win the public over with news of a complete company rebrand.
Attempting to cancel out years of backlash by taking the label in a new direction, they announced that they’d be doing away with their infamous Angels and would be diversifying their lineup by bringing on a number of athletes, activists, and actors instead. All in an effort to show that they’re supposedly “listening” and that Victoria’s Secret is “for everyone”.
Recruiting the likes of actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and soccer star Megan Rapinoe as part of their VS Changemakers, the brand’s thinly veiled attempts to make the label relevant again have fallen flat, and to quote singer JoJo, it’s just too little, too late.
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