Why I Broke Up With Victoria’s Secret

I still cringe and scrunch up my face at the name. (Ask my friends!) And while I don’t have the exact date in mind of our official break up, I do know it was somewhere around 2004. Having been loyal through my late high school and college years, I couldn’t imagine any another life. After all, what I’d seen in newspapers (yes those old things!), magazines, and catalogs for years had influenced my thinking. This was where it was at for the young, hip, and trendy. And since I thought I was all three, I had to be a part of it. Then, as life and my body would have it, I outgrew my Victoria’s Secret 34DDs!!!

What’s a girl to do?! Well, what a girl shouldn’t do is go back to her old flame. In this case, return to said store and believe any hype about having to fit in such a narrow range of what “average” is. Neither should a girl settle. There’s no need for a full busted girl to resign to wearing “grandma” bras (i.e. beige and boring) unless, of course, she chooses to. What a girl should do, is move on and find a more worthy partner. So, instead find her nearest boutique or department store that will accommodate all of her beautiful curves in a well-fitting, confidence-boosting bra!

I can’t solely place the blame on Victoria’s Secret though. They just happen to have the name recognition that other offenders don’t have. However, this idea of “average” that permeates the American intimate apparel industry is troubling. I mean, I can count on my hands the number of American brands that acknowledge and attend to the fact that there are women (and plenty of them!) just like me with larger breasts on smaller frames. Women who navigate the terrain of “average” sizes being too small in the cup and plus sizes being too small in the band. All we are looking for is one that is just right. Well, call us Goldibras! It’s why I eventually decided to travel, proverbially, over to the other side of the pond where band sizes abound and cup sizes runneth over. It was so great to discover that when I expanded my pool, I found ample (pun intended!) options in a variety of styles, colors, and even patterns for my more accurately sized 32Fs!

And all was well in the world. Almost. I had moved on past my old love and found something new that met my needs, but that only spawned my desire to share my experience with others, ultimately leading me to my role as a lingerie blogger where sharing the whole wide world of amazing lingerie for each and every one of your interests, styles, and body types has become one of my greatest joys. As I discovered, a well fitting bra, in a style of your choosing, can make you feel invincible and everyone deserves that in a bra – and a relationship!

However, I must be honest and tell you the real secret behind the break up. While my issue with my former love is about size and also about quality (ask me about that another day!), it’s a deeper issue that burns my britches. What really bothers me about my ex, Victoria’s Secret, is that it even though it was about me, it was never really about me. From the fashion show to the ad campaigns, the purpose of displaying lingerie was not about me delighting in my own pleasures and feeling confident and empowered by the very articles I placed closest to my skin. Nor was it about me luxuriating in my femininity and choosing to own my sensuality as a woman without having to be overtly sexy or swing the other way to being puritanical and prudish. Nope! It was, as it has been, about the male perspective. What does he want to see in lingerie? Who does he want to see it on? This limited perspective can be dangerous. I’m more than an object to be viewed and inspected, but a being of depth and dimension. A woman who dwells in the fullness of herself and deserves to be treated as such! Which is why I took my love, attention, and business to small boutiques, online retailers, and other stores that appreciated me for all that I was.

Break ups are hard and the best you can hope for is that you make peace. I eventually forgave Victoria’s Secret. We still have our differences, but I understand it serves a place in the larger industry. If nothing else, it has drawn attention to intimate apparel as more than just something to throw on and skimp on. At the end of the day, just like in relationships, it’s about finding that right fit and I’m glad that I’ve found brands and stores that are “just right” for me.

Let’s keep the dialogue going! What has been your experience with Victoria’s Secret versus other stores? Do you agree that Victoria’s Secret contributes to objectification rather than empowerment? Can’t wait to hear your responses! Leave comments on this page.

20 Comments

  1. Procrastinatrix
    21/05/13 at 10:50

    I first visited a Victoria’s Secret in high school, when I looked at their A-cup bras and immediately knew that they did not make bras that would fit me. It was the sexy lingerie store, the alternative to department stores that sold a lot of old lady bras (in my teenaged opinion), the only sexy lingerie store I knew of, the one that was in every mall I visited, the one with the notoriously scandalous catalog and the prime time fashion show. If the sexy store did not make bras for me, a petite but very sexy teen, then I wanted nothing to do with them. Now, I’m a bit bigger, and I’ll bet I could find bras there that fit me, but my grudge lives on.

    (I also know a woman named Victoria who HATES the store because she’s sick of the jokes about her name.)

  2. anon
    21/05/13 at 11:43

    Lingerie is to be worn, not to be seen (until and unless the wearer decides to show it). That’s what distinguishes lingerie from the rest of one’s wardrobe, and makes it, in my opinion, the ultimate luxury.

    So many problems with VS, but my main gripe is the utter lack of imaginative design and the poor quality of fabric and manufacture.

  3. 21/05/13 at 12:42

    Gosh, the “Hey, Victoria, what’s your secret?” jibe got old in about the second grade. Also, the sizing? TERRIBLE. When I, someone who generally falls into straight sizes, find that none of the underwear is actually big enough (because apparently my backside is EXTRA EXTRA large, isn’t that fun?), and no one in the shop seems to care about that but me, that’s a problem. I’m not about to spend that kind of money on underwear that doesn’t fit, and doesn’t make me feel pretty. Not worth it.

  4. Carat
    21/05/13 at 14:22

    I broke up with victoria’s secret about two years ago, when terrible customer service drove me away forever. I went in to get measurements done and have someone help me find a couple of bras that would fit well on my difficult to fit bust. It took forever to find a sales person who didn’t ignore me and she measured the side of my boob spat a size out to me and then walked away before I had a chance to ask her anymore questions. The size she spat at me was wrong and I didn’t find anything in the store that appealed to me. I walked out and refuse to ever walk in again.

  5. 21/05/13 at 15:57

    Every VS bra I ever owned stabbed me in the chest. An abusive relationship that I abandoned and never looked back.

  6. 21/05/13 at 16:17

    I broke up with them, too. Incorrect sizing, bad customer service experiences, poor quality products, blah blah blah. Every time I would go in there and get sized, they would try to sell me the next size up because they didn’t carry the size I needed. No offers to special order them for me (Aerie did this!), no suggestions on where I might actually be able to find my size, no actual real concern given to my specific needs. Just “well our 32As run small….” No, they don’t. I know they are too big so I’m not going to buy them. The truth is, VS is missing out on two markets that are demanding pretty bras like crazy now: the full-busted crowd, and the petite-busted with a band size under 32 crowd. Unfortunately, I do believe that VS is a company much like Abercrombie & Fitch. They have their own vision of what they want their customers to look like. Too-small busts and too-large busts don’t fit that image.

  7. 21/05/13 at 16:21

    As a queer woman, I really love this article. Everything Victoria’s Secret does is “wear this for your boyfriend!” and it’s one of many ways my sexuality, and my very existence, is casually erased on a daily basis. Not to mention that it when I wear lingerie, I wear it because I want to feel good about how I look, not for someone else.
    And, all in all, their bras don’t do much for me anyway. They hardly even carry my band size. Their few 30-band bras are very plain, and I can get a utilitarian beige or black bra literally anywhere else.

  8. Lynn
    21/05/13 at 19:22

    I am an unusual TLA as my first visit to Victoria’s Secret was way back when before it was the mega corporation it is today. I met the originator and owner of the boutique in the beginning years. The lingerie was beautiful, exquisitely made, and they carried my size, then a 34 D, (and larger). They had pretty, large cup bras when all I could find elsewhere were Playtex & Bali, ugh. Years later, after a decade living overseas, I checked out Victoria’s Secret to discover it had gone cheap, slutty, & the sales girls argumentative or useless. I took my then teenage daughter there 10 years ago (since that is who they appeared to cater to) only to leave frustrated and angry as we were shown bras that didn’t fit, were the wrong size – band or cup, and then to be told that “I” did not understand how they should fit. I have not gone there since not just because of the past experiences but also because both my daughter & I are now way up the alphabet (weight gain/loss, age, heredity).

  9. 21/05/13 at 19:48

    So well written! I would have to agree. I haven’t shopped at VS in 10 years. The quality and fit had always been questionable to me, but over the years I came to see all of the things you’ve mentioned in this post. I too feel that lingerie is for women, for them to wear and feel good while doing it. While lingerie is something that can be fun to share with your partner, to me, lingerie should be about exciting myself, not just my partner. I feel like Victoria’s Secret definitely markets to men – what men want to see, and as you said, who they want to see it on. Then women are told to shop there to please their partner, and buy what their partner would like best, or what their partner’s favorite VS Angel model wore in the catalog, etc. I really feel like the true spirit of lingerie gets lost in translation. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything either. There are so many great online lingerie boutiques and small businesses that cater to exactly what Victoria’s Secret doesn’t seem to find worth marketing to: the lingerie wearers themselves.

  10. Krista
    21/05/13 at 22:49

    Thank you all for your comments thus far. Let’s keep the dialogue going. I’m glad so many of you have found options that work just for you. Looking forward to sharing more styles, brads, and stores that need your needs!

  11. Fran
    22/05/13 at 0:13

    I didn’t realize that I’d “broken up” until I read this article. Come to think of it, with the exception of some thigh-highs (that were VERY low quality) I haven’t purchased anything from them in about a year, though I still go in for the free undies they give away from time to time, haha. The last bra I purchased I actually really like, but others I’ve had weren’t as comfy or long-lasting. The staff’s always been alright in my opinion, I guess I’ve just been lucky enough not to have a negative experience. I suppose the main reason I don’t shop there much is because I find so much more variety online and even at work (Macy’s). Where as all their products were the same thing in a few different colors or prints. Got old very quickly.

  12. Taylor
    22/05/13 at 0:32

    I find myself in a strange spot. I understand and appreciate your perspective, but the Body by Victoria bra fits me really well. I have three of them, and they are my go to everyday bras. No they aren’t special, but they good at what they do. Good under t-shirts, my main top, and fit me. I’ll keep buying them unless they change, even if VS isn’t the most progressive brand.

  13. Alice A
    22/05/13 at 7:34

    I’m not an American but I did go to the US in January this year and what disappointed me the most about my 30G chest was that I did not fit into their bras. VS is such a ‘cool’ and ‘exotic’ thing here in Oz because we don’t have VS! I did end up buying some makeup and absolutely excellent hand cream though haha.
    I was never in a relationship with VS, I feel like it’s that hot footy player in high school that most girls want to at least have a go with!

  14. 23/05/13 at 21:55

    While this dates me I recall VS when they started moving into malls and virtually every new mall had one. I decided back then to study them as a company and what made them successful. My conclusions back then were this was a company that happens to be extraordinarily profitable that happens to sell lingerie. They could just as well sell any other personal product based upon their business model. They have based their busines upon selling bras, panties and various other female friendly products that their research told them “women” and men who wear buying products for women would want to buy. All very well planned, coordinated and executed. It is not very surprising to me that they now suffer significant fatigue from women as their product quality, salesmanship and customer service are severely lacking. When I started on Ebay selling their catalog returns and overstocks I learned that while they had a very liberal return policy in their stores and catalog returns, they simply sold them off, clean or dirty, in bulk, for one to three dollars per item. This made it ideal for selling on Ebay as the Victoria’s Secret name was so widely known many women were anxious to purchase them. Once again I learned that they had a very clear busines plan, having their bras and other products made in non US locations. I also learned that they had a dramatic mark up which meant they could profit regardless of what price they sold their products at, including $1.00 to $3.00 dollars each. Even with destroying the damaged, soiled and non saleable items there was still a profit on an auction site. I personally don’t venture into their stores anymore, don’t wear their products, but many women, particularly younger women, in this country still consider them the place to go, based almost entirely on the television ads, lingerie runway shows and all the glitz and glamour. Amazing what you can do with millions of dollars in advertising and public relations. Product quality and sales persons training, apparently was not on the agenda.

  15. 25/05/13 at 18:47

    You said what we have been saying for years!!! Good for you!! Our store is small and we have grown our bra offerings alot in the last year. We get A LOT of VS sized ladies that are wearing the wrong size bra. It’s pretty obvious to us that it’s about selling product not providing ladies with what they need but what they think they should buy. Sometimes you need to think about keeping the customer instead of getting a sale today. We advise ladies not to buy things all the time. Now you might think of this as bad business, but it’s not. They leave our store with a postive experience, tell their friends and always come back, to us first because if we don’t have it, we know where to get it.

  16. Anonymous
    25/05/13 at 19:25

    Treacle,
    While I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of what this blog post reflects, I do feel the need to respond to a particular string of statements you expressed.

    “It was, as it has been, about the male perspective. What does he want to see in lingerie? Who does he want to see it on?”

    As a married male who (luckily for his wife) happens to be a bit of a lingerie fanatic, I find these thoughts a bit “off base.” I do not believe that VS product lines, materials, cuts and designs, marketing campaigns, sales strategies, etc… are about a male perspective, nor do they reflect what we want to see in lingerie. Rather, I feel that these attributes are a mere conglomeration of a corporate entity’s views of what they want the general public (both male and female) to perceive as what both men and women desire in lingerie and intimate wear. Like you though, we do not find their products at all feminine or sexy, but rather juvenile and distasteful articles of subpar quality.

    In my opinion, good lingerie should transform a woman; it emboldens her and imparts a well-deserved sense of confidence knowing that she is a sight to behold. Good lingerie makes a woman feel more feminine and desired, just by wearing it. One garment may be her (and her husband’s) naughty secret underneath her business attire, while another may allow her to feel spoiled and wrapped in luxury throughout a mundane day. Good lingerie complements a woman’s beauty, employs an element of mystery and intrigue, both showcasing and hiding what’s underneath, all while relentlessly beckoning to be explored. Maybe I’m the odd-man-out, or maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I refuse to believe that the male gender as a whole really desires whatever cheap crap a chinese manufacturer can slap on a woman and present like a hunk of meat. Where’s the intrigue? The class? The sophistication? The alluring femininity?

    When I buy a piece of lingerie for my wife, I know it’s good if the images of her in it are dancing around in my head all day, waiting for another peak at her in it. I know it’s good if I’m faced with an internal struggle because I want so badly to remove it, but cannot easily bring myself to do so, because she looks so good in it. I know she thinks it’s good when she has a little more swagger in her step throughout the day… even when she doesn’t realize it. I know she thinks it’s good when she recognizes the power she has over me, because of how confident she presents herself when she wears it.

    As far as we’re concerned, Victoria has no more secrets; everything was let out of the bag many years ago. Like many others, we have moved on to better things.

    Stepping down from my soapbox now.

    • 26/05/13 at 3:24

      Hi Anonymous!

      Just popping up to say this isn’t one of my pieces. It’s written by our latest columnist, Krista, who used to write for The Lingerie Post. :-)

      Best,
      Cora

    • firelizard19
      06/06/13 at 23:52

      I love this response- I think it’s a shallow interpretation of what they think will sell to appeal to the male gaze, and it’s insulting to men and women to shoehorn us into these overly shallow roles. Sorry to go all feminist-speak on you, but you pointed out exactly what feminism is about- we’re all more than our gender, we’re individuals, and we have individualized tastes beyond shallow stereotypes. That kind of thing hurts/offends men, too. After all, you don’t want your wife in a cheesy french maid outfit, for instance, but they assume you do because you’re male, and that’s what men like, right? Insulting to everyone.

      Anyway, just wanted to say kudos for that love letter to what lingerie is about in your comments- it sounds like you and your wife make a lovely pair.

  17. Halle
    28/05/13 at 20:32

    I used to work for Victoria’s Secret. The bad taste in my mouth comes from being told to improperly fit large busted customers so they will buy something. As a 34J, I felt as though I turned my back on my busty sisters offering to have them go up a band size and a cup size in order to have them buy something that was not meant to be. I wasn’t okay with this, so I left. Our breakup was amnicable, but I have not shopped there since. Considering my other issues with VS- the poor quality, marketing tactics, etc- my heart wasn’t broken and I moved on pretty quickly.

  18. firelizard19
    06/06/13 at 16:01

    I totally agree- there’s way more to it than sizing. They just don’t put enough effort into the comfort side of their bras, even the ones meant to provide it. And many squish you down, rather than supporting you, even in the correct size and a non-tacky design.

    What sealed the “never buy a bra there again” for me was when I tried on my first properly supportively stitched balconnette bra (a fauve) at a boutique. It had no padding, it was just lightly lined, and I looked as though I were wearing a VS moderate push-up bra with the results, but I didn’t have to constantly readjust, and my breasts weren’t crowded out of the bra. That always used to actually make them ache at the end of the day if I wore a push-up. I still don’t see how something counts as a bra if your actual breasts don’t fit in it, and it’s not actually designed to have them fit in it either, just to be s place to put all the extreme padding. So, yeah- design your clothes for the people actually wearing them, and try not to actually cause them pain- xthxbai!

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