by Caroline Luu (’26) | October 7, 2022
In a society where only “ideal” bodies are featured in popular media and body shaming is prevalent, many teenagers and young adults experience insecurities about themselves, including American singer-songwriter Jax. When she was a young girl, she developed body dysmorphia and eating disorders after being influenced by Victoria’s Secret advertisements. This year, her song “Victoria’s Secret,” which criticizes the harmful standards perpetuated by the fashion industry, became a viral hit.
Originally gaining momentum on TikTok, “Victoria’s Secret” has now amassed over forty million streams on Spotify. At its peak, it charted at number one on Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart. After the girl she babysat was body shamed while swimsuit-shopping at Victoria’s Secret, Jax wrote the song to condemn the unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards that the company has “cash[ed] in on.”
Surprisingly, CEO Amy Hauk responded to the song via Instagram with a handwritten letter thanking Jax for “addressing important issues in her lyrics” and admitting that there are “no excuses for the past.” The post adds that the company is “wholeheartedly… committed to building a community where everyone feels seen and respected,” which generated skepticism due to the retail giant’s history of not maintaining its inclusivity promises.
Following the company’s response to her song, Jax posted a TikTok clarifying that her “intention was never to ‘take down a brand’” and that she just wanted “sing about [her] truth and then… hope that people relate[d].” She went on to criticize the company for “need[ing] a viral song or a blue checkmark” to change its messaging, adding that “it’s not like [she’s] singing about something new.”As Jax points out, this false promise of body positivity is not a standalone case. Many fashion companies think that it is enough to simply slap a tacky, kitsch logo onto a shirt, or bury a picture of a plus-size model on an About Us page. They fail to understand what body positivity truly is: prioritizing wellbeing over physical appearance and changing our views of beauty to include all body types.
Currently, the beauty standard in the international fashion industry has not changed much from what it was decades ago: tall, skinny, and minimally curvy. Though the portrayal and prevalence of more diverse bodies in media has definitely increased compared to what it was many years ago, it is far from what it needs to be. However, Jax has shown the effectiveness of using social media to advocate for body positivity, rather than use it to drag people down.