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Why Victoria's Secret Presents Its Angels as Athletes

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There's a reason the broadcast of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is peppered with details of the model's physical accomplishments. The Atlantic notes that the brand is finding novel ways to "present a bevy of underwear-wearing women in a way that, in the culture of 2015, doesn't come across as tremendously exploitative or irresponsible or retrograde."

By framing models as athletes, Victoria's Secret finds a way to justify the objectification of the women involved in the show, The Atlantic argues. That's why the models made comments comparing their preparation for the show to that of an Olympic athlete and called the event "the Super Bowl of fashion." Angels are even reportedly bound by their contracts to maintain "healthy and muscular" bodies; Candice Swanepoel has come under fire in the past for looking underweight.

In this way, the show attempts to present Angels in the same way a sporting event presents athletes. And models talk about preparing for the show like an athlete getting ready for a big event, like Alessandro Ambrosia who has said, "You work out as an athlete. All your mind, all your everything goes into it."

In spite of all this, The Atlantic claims that we are at least moving in the right direction: away from stick-thin models and towards women that represent strength. "This was also Victoria's Secret, a longstanding arbiter of what is considered both sexy and marketable, celebrating women's bodies as agents of strength," the publication writes.