It’s easy to be seduced by the glitz and glamor of a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and feel like no one could possibly live up to its impossible standards of beauty. But it seems more and more these days that the stunning models who have walked on that fabled runway aren’t afraid to show the world what they really look like when the cameras are off. You’ll probably still be a little envious, though.
It goes without saying that Victoria’s Secret is one of the most popular lingerie brands in the world today. In fact, it makes billions of dollars every year – down in part, possibly, to the beautiful women that it hires as spokesmodels or as Angels for its fabled annual Fashion Show.
Not that Victoria’s Secret is popular in all quarters, though, and that also often has something to do with its models. The brand has occasionally been condemned for endorsing unattainable levels of beauty, with its critics having pointed out that Victoria’s Secret Angels all seem to be uniformly thin, tall, healthy and very good-looking.
That almost impossible standard was even mentioned in 2010 by Edward Razek, the chief marketing officer for Victoria’s Secret’s parent company Limited Brands. Razek told The New York Times, “The numbers of people who can [become Victoria’s Secret models] are probably under 100 in the world.”
In 2014, meanwhile, an online Victoria’s Secret advert featuring the sentence “The Perfect ‘Body’” written over ten of its most flawless models caused such uproar that an online petition was born asking for it to be reworded. The petition was eventually signed by 33,000 people.
The petition called the advertisement “irresponsible,” and people have also suggested that such promises of perfection are damaging to impressionable young girls. The attention the ad garnered resulted in Victoria’s Secret changing the slogan instead to “A Body For Every Body.”
Image: via Jezebel
Victoria’s Secret models, though, are often on record as saying that they love what they do. “It’s hard not to have a good time. Even if I wake up cranky, it’s all I ever dreamed of,” Alessandra Ambrosio told Glamour magazine in 2015.
And audiences are now closer to the lives of supermodels than ever before. Fans can follow their favorite models on social media and get revealing glimpses into their worlds in a way that would have been almost unthinkable just a decade ago.
Image: Rob Loud/Getty Images
This can often result in people like the Victoria’s Secret models starting to seem much more relatable than they were previously. It also means that these models are free to show the public their real faces whenever they choose.
And, it seems, both models and average Janes alike have decided that maybe it’s up to them to show the world that it’s normal to have blemished skin, freckles or any other supposed “imperfection.” Hence, the “no make-up” selfie was created.
So models can now show off what they look like in the flesh, so to speak, with little more than a smartphone. After Sara Sampaio shared this pic in fall 2015, for instance, one of the commenters said, “[You’re] even more attractive without make-up.”
Tyra Banks, meanwhile, admitted to People in 2015 that she would never leave the house without first putting on make-up. In a bid to show what she termed “the really real me,” however, Banks shared this “raw” selfie on Instagram in June of that year.
Amazingly, though, there are still some people out there who feel the need to meet these kinds of revealing and remarkably honest pictures with mockery. One commenter on Banks’ no make-up Instagram post, for instance, said that she was “the most ugliest model ever.”
Image: via Celebrity Without Makeup
Kendall Jenner walked in the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and has one of the most famous faces on the planet. But even she has had comments like “ugly” and “greasy faced” aimed at her after daring to venture out in public without wearing make-up.
Generally, though, the supermodel no make-up selfie is met with overwhelming approval. Following Daniela Braga’s Instagram posting of this image, in fact, someone wrote, “You are beautiful, you don’t need any [make-up].”
Image: Twitter/Adriana Lima
What’s more, in 2014 the idea of the no make-up selfie was even used to raise a considerable amount of money for charity. In fact, one social media movement had women snapping the selfies and subsequently donating money to Cancer Research U.K., which eventually earned roughly $1.5 million over the course of a single day.
So arguably these Victoria’s Secret models – and other celebrities like them – are doing something really quite important when they pose for snaps without make-up. Perhaps, in fact, they’re helping empower a future generation.
Supermodels demonstrating that underneath, they just look like everybody else will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the self-esteem of the young girls who look up to them. It lets them know that it’s good to be comfortable in their own skin.
And, let’s not forget, this idea is also important to the women who model for Victoria’s Secret. “I hope I’m a good enough role model,” Candice Swanepoel said to Glamour in 2015. “I try to just live my life as a good person.”
And while it will still probably be a very long while before Victoria’s Secret hires a disabled or plus-sized Angel, in the meantime it’s still nice to see the stars of the brand trying to promote self-confidence. Beauty, after all, is only skin deep.