Being a Victoria’s Secret Angel isn’t always as glamorous as it looks. Behind the scenes, women like Erin Heatherton endure body image struggles, often silently. Heatherton walked in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show for five years, from 2008 to 2013, and she admits the last two were especially traumatic. “My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight. I look back like, ‘Really?” she told Motto.
To fit Victoria’s Secret standards, Heatherton began to exercise excessively, working out twice a day. But that wasn’t enough. “I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me. And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat,” she reveals.
Now that she’s left Victoria’s Secret, Heatherton feels empowered to speak out. “I realized I couldn’t go out into the world—parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me—and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this. […] I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women. It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.”
Victoria’s Secret has endured countless criticism for promoting a limited standard of beauty. Most recently, Rain Dove slammed its beauty standards in a controversial photo shoot and plus-size model Tess Holliday spoke out about its alarming lack of size diversity. But this marks a rare occasion when former Victoria’s Secret models take a stand against the company’s tactics. For the sake of Victoria’s Secret models and their impressionable young fans, we hope the brand is listening.
The breakdown to breakthrough moment in my life has allowed me to become the truest version of myself. In my moment of “failure,” I stood in the face of adversity. I was struggling with my body image and the pressures to fulfill the demands of perfectionism upon me. I am not perfect. Through this struggle, however, I found the strength to love myself. I stood in my power. I thought of one of my favorite quotes, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a men’s character, give him power” – Abraham Lincoln. I look back on that moment now, and I embrace it. This feeling I once perceived as “failure” was, in truth, a powerful awakening for me to stand behind my purpose in life. I stepped away from hiding behind a fabricated version of myself. I no longer put actions behind my fears and insecurities. I made a choice to redirect my energy to be a catalyst for change. To create a channel for women to become the truest versions of themselves, along with me. (Stay tuned for more…) In the end, if you aren’t being true to yourself, then what the fuck is the point. #rebelwacause #empowerment #womensempowerment#empoweredbyyou