The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show & The Size Zero Situation


Victoria’s Secret Diets and the Size Zero Situation


As last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show closed its curtains, Adriana Lima revealed that walking down as an Angel takes hefty preparation. For five months prior to the show, she went on a strict diet and ramped up her intense workouts with a trainer to seven days a week, and then for the full two months before the show, she did her trainer-assisted workouts twice a day. On top of that, for nine days prior to the show, Lima took on a protein shake-only diet. For twelve hours prior to the show, she ate and drank nothing. “No liquids at all, so you dry out. Sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,” she said.

7 out of 10 girls in grades 5-12 said they get their idea of a “perfect body” from models in magazines.

Victoria’s Secret Diets and the Size Zero Situation

Victoria’s Secret Diets and the Size Zero SituationStarvation among models is no longer surprising. In fact, most people are aware that eating disorders are quite common in this profession. According to the Model Health Inquiry, over 40% of models are victims of eating disorders. While the most talked about eating disorder among models is Anorexia, the most common among them is really Bulimia. These eating disorders have taken a toll not only in models’ health, but also their lives.

The modeling industry has encountered death after death. Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston passed away in Sao Paolo after battling anorexia and bulimia. She weighed only 88 pounds then. Uruguayan Luisel Ramos died during a fashion show in Montevideo, Uruguay. She was anorexic and weighed 97 pounds. Reston and Ramos are only two of several models who met death because of eating disorders. They are only two of the many women around the world who have starved themselves due to distorted standards of beauty.

Victoria’s Secret Diets and the Size Zero Situation“Models are under increasing pressure to be thinner and thinner, and younger and younger.”

Women’s magazines provide the definition of beauty, ultimately influencing young girls’ self-esteem. In fact, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorder stated that 7 out of 10 girls in grades 5-12 said they get their idea of a “perfect body” from magazines. While self-esteem and perfectionism are only two of the many factors causing eating disorders, these are highly cultural factors that are shaped by key influencers of society.

Victoria’s Secret Diets and the Size Zero SituationThe Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), led by influential designer Diane von Furstenberg, addressed this issue when they wrote a letter to the fashion community on the issue of unhealthy fashion models. Released prior to the opening of New York Fashion Week, the letter articulates the gravity of the situation and provides concrete guidelines to help alleviate the problem. Some of these are providing healthy snacks backstage during shoots and shows, providing health education, and implementing an age limit for runway shows.

Victoria’s Secret Diets and the Size Zero SituationIn their letter, Diane von Furstenberg admitted that the demands of the fashion industry influence fashion models’ self-esteem. It stated: “Designers generally produce only one sample size for the runway, and in the last decade there has been a dramatic downward shift in the sample size of some of the top design houses. As a result, models are under increasing pressure to be thinner and thinner, and younger and younger.”

While this letter is a start in addressing the problem, there is a long, long way to go for the fashion industry. After all, runway modeling is just one aspect of modeling. There are also the magazine shoots, advertisements, and catalogues. These involve not only designers but also corporate executives, advertising agencies, and magazine editors. In the big intertwined web of influence within the fashion sphere, how can the size 0 situation really be solved?

Sarah enlightens us on a daily basis with the newest trends as (and often before) they transpire. She is the consummate globe trotter. Having traveled to over 70 countries, she earns her living writing, blogging and modeling while on the road. In her spare time she gets manicures, suntans on yachts in Greece, shops for even more shoes, and lives in the limelight. She loves photography, elephants, sailboats, bangles and ballet flats.


  1. There’s a lot of talk about Victoria’s Secret models using starvation methods to drop the pounds before appearing on the runway. This is not safe! You don’t have to starve yourself to achieve your weight loss goals. Just make generally healthier choices!

  2. Celine Carter

    Sounds like when they look perfect in photos and on the runway, it took some pretty extreme methods to look like that. So if you’re like me and can’t go more than a couple of hours without eating, you should probably give up your dreams of becoming a model.

  3. The only thing more ridiculous than how VS models eat (or don’t) are the poses they strike wearing bikinis that no one buys. Rename the catalog “Anorexic Beach Yoga,” and we’d probably take it more seriously.

  4. Christina Norelli

    I have skipped solid food for the past two days, cut down on my water intake but still no sign of Angel wings on my back? What am I doing wrong that those Victoria Secret Models are doing right? 😉

  5. Glamor industries (like modeling) tend to attract young and naive individuals. Unfortunately, the majority end up burned out, no income and no future, simply because they worked and did not finish school.

    Thanks for an eye-opening piece! This is helpful for mothers like me.

  6. Kimberley Foulkes

    Thank you very much for this informative piece! You know what? I used to feel jealous of models — of their body, fame, and money. But after reading this, I realized that, in a way, I should feel bad (or sorry) for them.

  7. Charlene Campbell

    Most of these fashion magazines are read and absorbed by women and they are the reason this drive towards thinness is sustained in the fashion world.

  8. Lauren Rogers

    Well done Sarah. Spot on and my thoughts exactly. The fashion industry is not a pretty business. My sister is currently in hospital due to this thin-obsessed culture and incredibly destructive illness. She also found the media portrayal of thinness incredibly influential.

  9. Emily Morrison

    Such an eye opener! Thanks for writing about this! To think you are a model yourself…

  10. This is heartbreaking! I think getting the major power players in the industry like agencies, casting directors and even fashion designers to initiate change is the key. Is it hard to change standards and remove age and weight requirements?!

    I don’t think so…

    • Well, I think your suggestion is way far from happening. Beautiful girls (and models) are casually told or requested (or more of demanded) by agents to lose weight. AS if that’s easy, as if they themselves understand how brutal and morally / physically damaging it can be.

      • I agree! These people are trained to look for “something.” There are casting agents or designers “known” for requiring thinner or even thinnest models.

  11. Sibel Jenkinson

    Thank you for raising up a serious issue. From what I know, the modeling industry is about: “if models want to get paid (and have the job), they need to be thin. If they want to be paid more, they NEED to be thinner.”

    • Anna Kaplan

      Unfortunately… sad but true! I’m strongly against women objectification, more often than not, models are primary victims. What’s alarming is that a lot of models start young, missing out vital education and really have limited options for alternative employment later on.

  12. Sabrina Hehle

    Oh wow!!! No liquids?! Seriously?

  13. It's great to hear a model's take on this. I don't usually consider their struggles when considering the effect of media's pressure on women, but of course they receive a lot of pressure from their jobs.

  14. Arabella Clarington

    Thank you for posting the model's account of the extremely dangerous diet/exercise routine she took on before a show. I'll definitely be sharing this with my daughter as part of our ongoing convos about fashion/entertainment industries and the ridiculous images of women and men they portray.

    The only way to solve the size zero problem is for consumers to demand the change they want to see. If consumers continue to buy the magazines and products that encourage dangerous self-abusive behavior then the industry really has no reason to change. Thank for working to enlighten consumers and, hopefully, the fashion industry, too.

  15. Jen Spillane

    Oh my…well I guess it's nice to know she didn't just wake up looking like that! I think education is the key. It's really important for everyday consumers to realize that these extreme kinds of preparation go into a model's appearance. In a way it makes sense. They are essentially being paid to maintain a certain body. If you wanted to, and you were able to commit every moment of every day to looking a certain way because it was your job to do so, you could also look that way. Though I'm not sure that I personally would choose the necessary trade-offs…

  16. Hannah Mayers

    Wow. It’s just sad that opinion leaders (e.g models) are the ones who glorify self-deprivation and depreciation and lead ordinary girls to hate their bodies 🙁

  17. Courtney Watson

    There is a solution, but it will take cooperation and time.

  18. Clarisse Johnson

    Since I was about 14 I developed an eating disorder. I was trying to pursue a modeling career then. I signed up for and other modeling sites and got casted many times. But when you are in your teens, you will find many changes in your body. I was scared to get fat so I threw up after every meal. Sometimes Fashion Modeling and self-starvation goes hand in hand. I’m just glad I’m over it. I’m now in College taking up Political Science.

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