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Is Victoria’s Secret Making a Statement With This Unretouched Photo?

Jasmine Tookes in the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fantasy Bra.

Jasmine Tookes wears the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra; Image: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria’s Secret

This Thursday, Victoria’s Secret released photos of model Jasmine Tookes wearing this year’s Bright Night Fantasy Bra. In some ways, the behind-the-scenes shots look a lot like the VS ads we know and…feel ambivalent towards. Yet again, a beautiful straight-sized model perches on a tufted couch in ornate underwear we can’t imagine tolerating for over five minutes, tousling her relaxed hair.

In other ways, the photo — and its significance — takes our breath away. For one, Tookes is the first black model to wear the Fantasy Bra (here, and on the upcoming Victoria’s Secret runway) in nine years. Then, there’s the Eddie Borgo-designed, jewel-encrusted contraption itself, which is worth $3 million and took nearly 700 hours to make. And do our eyes deceive us, or are those unretouched stretch marks on Tookes’ perfectly muscled derrière?

Victoria's Secret's controversial "Perfect Body" campaign imagery.

Victoria’s Secret’s controversial “Perfect Body” campaign imagery; Image: Victoria’s Secret

For as long as we can remember, Victoria’s Secret has been (unofficially) labeled a body-shamer. In October 2014, the lingerie megabrand’s “Perfect Body” campaign landed it in the hot seat. The words “The Perfect Body” were superimposed over a gaggle of supermodels, as if to suggest that theirs is the ideal form. Needless to say, folks were not pleased.

One of many Victoria's Secret Photoshop fails

One of many Victoria’s Secret Photoshop fails; Image: Victoria’s Secret

The following October, VS again made headlines when it (accidentally) digitally sheared off a model’s left butt cheek (SMH). As recently as this past summer, a former retoucher for Victoria’s Secret told Refinery29 that she would routinely make models’ breasts rounder, larger, higher and more symmetrical. (“They all have [size] A’s,” she revealed.)

This fall, however, the brand appears to have turned over a new leaf. True, Victoria’s Secret hasn’t pulled an Aerie and  consciously (i.e. publicly) uncoupled with Photoshop, nor is it clear that this photo is intentionally — or entirely — unaltered. It’s a behind-the-scenes shot, not official campaign imagery, plus the brand has yet to offer any sort of comment. Nevertheless, Tookes’ tiger stripes suggest that Victoria’s Secret is finally headed in a more body-positive direction. “$3 million bra = fantasy, stretch marks = universal reality,” is what we take from this snap.

[ Related: Here’s Everything We Know About the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show So Far ]

According to the aforementioned retoucher, in the past, Victoria’s Secret has “tried different models and different body types all the time,” but eventually gave up because “they didn’t sell.” Here’s hoping the brand has seen the error of its ways.

[ via Cosmopolitan ]