Monday, 30th October 2017

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How can Victoria's Secret call its latest Angel plus-size

The latest Victoria’s Secret Angel proves that what is considered plus-size by the lingerie company, is an unattainable ideal of thinness for others

  • Published 28.03.19, 5:12 PM
  • Updated 28.03.19, 5:12 PM
  • a min read
Barbara Palvin, the 25-year-old Hungarian model has been labelled Victoria's Secret first ever plus-size model Barbara Palvin's Instagram

Victoria’s Secret has got bad press again. After years of holding out against all pressure to feature plus-size models, or anyone who did not qualify as tall and super skinny, the world’s most well-known lingerie brand finally gave in a few days ago by signing in 25-year-old Hungarian model Barbara Palvin as one of its Angels.

But at 34-24-35, where exactly is Palvin plus-size? Must be in the mind of the company executives. At most Palvin is curvier than most other Angels (an Angel, unlike other models working for the brand, has a special contract with the company). If Palvin’s curves make her “plus”, how are other women supposed to describe themselves?

“If she’s plus size then I’m truck size,” one woman declared on social media, according to a London-based website.

“No wonder girls and women suffer from such bad body insecurities! She is a size 10 at best (US 6) and that’s nowhere near plus size,” another woman said.

Cruel joke

This is like a slap on the face of the political correctness that the fashion industry parades on the ramp these days. But if the excessive correctness makes fashion dull, Victoria’s Secret has gone too far.

By labelling Palvin plus, the company is reinforcing a stereotype by appropriating the language of empowerment, thereby demolishing it. In any case, 34-24-35 is almost size zero. The maths is also wrong.

The stats

UK-based plus size company Simply Be points out how a Victoria’s Secret Angel compares to the average woman.


  • Average height: 5’10”
  • Chest: 32A to 32D
  • Hair: 50 per cent blonde; 50 per cent brown
  • Eyes: Blue (44 per cent); brown (31 per cent)


  • Average height: 5’4”
  • Chest: 34DD to 36DD
  • Hair: Black or brown
  • Eyes: Brown
Ramps everywhere continue to be dominated by figures that are far from real. Even male models are expected to meet unreal standards
Ramps everywhere continue to be dominated by figures that are far from real. Even male models are expected to meet unreal standards Paul David Martin

Same story

But ramps everywhere are still dominated by figures far away from the real.

“For women models, the bust size is 32 to 34 inches, 5 ft 8, shoulder 14 inches,” says Nick Rampal, fashion curator, who is also a top model in Calcutta.

He points out that similar unreal standards are expected of male models too. “The male model, ideally, should be 6 feet tall, with a 39” chest, 18.5” to 19” shoulder length, hips 38”,” he adds.