American website rehabs.com recently overviewed the evolution of the female figure over the last 100 years, reminding readers that the most admired models have always been consistently slimmer than the average American woman. The disparity is growing however, with American women becoming larger and models thinner.
In the days of Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and all the ‘supers’, it’s estimated that with watching her diet and consistent exercise, about 25% of women could achieve a model figure — or close to it since height is always above average for models. Today that estimate is 2-4%.
This spring saw a flurry of new regulations around model BMIs for fashion shows, with even France, home to the androgynous, gamine figure seeking to crack down on the use of too-thin models with a ban on BMIs under 18.
Many protest the use of BMI as an indicator of health and wellness, because it fails to distinguish between muscle and fat. Looking to update any new thinking in the model BMI debate, I was surprised to come upon this gem of information from the Telegraph UK:
Dr Véran (the French neurologist and politician who sponsored the French legislation) notes that the World Health Organisation defines anyone below a BMI of 18 to be suffering from malnutrition. This would rule out celebrated names such as Karlie Kloss (no longer an Angel) , Alessandra Ambrosio and Candice Swanepoel who, as Victoria’s Secret underwear models, are feted for being “curvaceous” despite their miniscule BMIs.
As a 10-year veteran of Victoria’s Secret, I know that the world’s largest lingerie brand has always promoted a vision of good health and a positive body attitude. In overviewing the changing bodies of women as a beauty ideal, Rehabs.com concluded that the 2000 body ideal is that of ‘a Victoria’s Secret Angel, described as tall, thin and leggy models with big breasts, flowing hair and toned bodies.’ The website uses Adriana Lima as an example.
The Diet and Workouts of VS Angels
Writing for Daily Mail UK this Sunday, Poppy Cross set out to see if she has what it takes to achieve the body of a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
Victoria’s Secret requires all its Angels to be 5’9” tall minimum and have 24 in. waists writes Cross. VS Fashion Show consultant Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou explains: ‘It’s like being an Olympian — they have to be in peak condition.’
Cross sets off on her quest for an Angels body, advised by personal trainer Dan Roberts and New York nutritionist Dr Charles Passier, both of whom work with the VS models. (Read Elle magazine’s Dec 2014 Following the 6 Step Victoria’s Secret Angel Diet with Dr Passier. A major article on trainer Dan Roberts and the Angels is on ilongevity.com)
Weight training is to be the key and this will include squats, dead-lifts, weighted lunges, bicep curls, tricep dips and press-ups. I am to be ‘eased’ into the programme, with one weight session with Dan each week supplemented by three to four other ‘homework’ sessions – sprint interval training for 20 minutes one day, weight training on my own for an hour the next, and classes including Pilates, boxing and ‘Ballet Beautiful’ (Angel favourites, I’m told).
In what became a four-month journey to a VS Angels body, Cross writes that all her suffering and exhaustion aside, and with sessions with Dan increasing to four a week, she is exercising six-seven days a week and sometimes twice in a day. However, the determined fitness blogger is dead-lifting 72kg — more than she weights — by the third month.