When you think of Victoria’s Secret, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Lingerie? Fashion shows? Perfectly sculpted models? I bet the last thing you would think of is an old man who lives in Ohio. However, singer-songwriter Jax hopes to change your perception of the company with her new single “Victoria’s Secret.” The song, which was released in late June, quickly gained popularity on social media and hit the charts as Jax’s first song to ever be included in Billboard’s Top 100. The song discusses some important themes about eating disorders and body dysmorphia, and it reveals how companies like Victoria’s Secret have contributed to these body image issues. Jax does this in a way that is so personal that every listener feels an instant connection with her. She also encourages her listeners to speak up for their right to be seen, as representation is not the work of an influencer but a village. Body positivity is something worth talking about, and it doesn’t take a blue checkmark to feel comfortable talking about it.
Jax introduced the song to her fans on social media in a post featuring herself and the girl she babysits, Chelsea. She explains how Chelsea had gone shopping with her friends at Victoria’s Secret for some swimsuits for a pool party. However, the trip ended badly when her friends made fun of her weight and shamed her for wanting to buy a bikini. After Chelsea went to Jax for comfort, Jax took it upon herself to write a song about the harmful marketing strategies Victoria’s Secret famously employs to push the tall and skinny body image. Jax explains how Victoria’s Secret ads caused her to develop body dysmorphia and eating disorders. The song was eventually released as a single, and much to Jax’s surprise, the song blew up and gained more popularity than she could’ve ever imagined.
The song has a punchy, pop-rock sound that is sure to make anyone jump up and dance. However, the song aims to develop a deeper connection with its audience. The conversational style of the lyrics gives the impression that you are being mentored by Jax herself. At the beginning of the chorus, she sings: “I know Victoria’s secret, and girl, you wouldn’t believe. She’s an old man who lives in Ohio making money off of girls like me.” Jax brings the conversation directly to the listeners instead of to the company itself, creating a feeling of trust between her and her listeners. Jax also pokes fun at the “old man who lives in Ohio.” This is a reference to the company’s former CEO, Les Wexner, who developed the “perfect body” campaign for Victoria’s Secret.
Jax also uses popular diet culture phrases such as “thunder thighs,” “fight the cellulite” and “hot girl summer” to describe her own experiences with eating disorders and better relate to her audience. In the starting verse, Jax sings, “I stopped eating, what a bummer. Can’t have carbs and a hot girl summer.” She continues this thought in the second verse by saying, “The f—ing pressure I was under to lose my appetite and fight the cellulite with hunger games like every night.” Jax uses these popular phrases to communicate her message and experiences in a way every person can understand. By establishing trust with her audience and revealing her real-life struggles with body dysmorphia, Jax effectively reassures every listener that every single body is beautiful, despite the contradictory message companies like Victoria’s Secret promote.
It’s no secret that Victoria’s Secret’s infamous marketing strategies have created a toxic expectation for its target audience. Overusing photoshop and strictly using tall, thin models to represent the epitome of sexiness have led audiences — young and old — to feel as if their beauty and worth in society are determined by how closely they fit into that mold. This also leads to eating disorders and depression among people who don’t fit the mold, as explained by Jax. However, despite its reputation, Victoria’s Secret recently surprised consumers with a more inclusive, body-positive campaign. The company announced its rebranding in an ad featuring women of all shapes, colors and ages sporting simple bra and panty sets. The ad checks all the boxes of a typical rebranding announcement by pairing quick, positive phrases like “we see you” and “real” with diverse smiling faces.
With the company sporting a new, inclusive look, many seem to believe Victoria’s Secret is finally moving in the right direction. However, the jury is not unanimous. The company faced backlash for putting its new, body-positive models in simple cotton underwear as opposed to the sexy lingerie the company has marketed for years. In Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, models would be adorned in flashy, glamourous accessories and over-the-top wings that would complement the lingerie they were modeling. These shows grew to be very popular. However, the show was officially dropped in 2018 after sales began to drop. This may be why the company opted for a cleaner and more simple aesthetic for its rebranding, but many see this choice as disrespectful to underrepresented body types. Why can’t larger sizes be shown in sexy lingerie and flashy wings? Why oversimplify your brand for the sake of body positivity? Just include more sizes.
Some disagree with this notion, arguing that the flashy styles of the old Victoria’s Secret only worked to objectify women, and putting wings and glitter on models of all sizes will only do the same. Whether you agree with Victoria’s Secret’s rebranding choices or not, it is refreshing to see the company acknowledge its mistakes and at least try to move in the right direction. However, with Jax’s single going viral only weeks before the official rebranding of Victoria’s Secret, it’s safe to wonder if Jax had any influence on the company’s new campaign.
In a post on Aug. 12, Jax revealed that Victoria’s Secret sent a letter commending her on her message and offering her a voice in its new campaign. Of course, Jax is incredibly surprised that her song actually attracted the attention of the company her song is about. However, Jax explained that she is not the only person who has been affected by the company’s harmful marketing techniques, and she doesn’t feel comfortable representing every person who has. In the post, she said, “I do not feel comfortable speaking on behalf of an entire generation… and I do not want to be the face of any company’s ‘we’ve changed’ ad.” Jax followed this statement by challenging her followers to take this opportunity to make their voices known. She encouraged her audience to do so by reminding them that “you shouldn’t need a viral song or a blue checkmark for your voice to be heard. It takes a village, not an influencer.” Since then, Jax has not posted about receiving any further feedback from Victoria’s Secret, but fans are optimistic about their chances to finally have their voices be heard.
The song “Victoria’s Secret” is a body-positivity anthem that is catchy, powerful and guaranteed to make you pump your fist. However, hidden behind the singer’s powerful vocals is a message about acceptance and love. Jax states firmly that all bodies are beautiful, even if they don’t fit the image of perfection that companies like Victoria’s Secret have promoted for years. She also addresses how these manipulative marketing strategies have caused consumers, like herself, to develop eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Addressing multiple long-standing, harmful messages, “Victoria’s Secret” serves as a war chant for those struggling with body positivity.