The 2016 Victoria's Secret fashion show airs on December 5, and there's been a lot of hype around it.
Part of me understands the obsession — Supermodels! Wings! Musical performances! It's everything that people imagine fashion shows are like.
But a bigger part of me doesn't get it at all. I haven't shopped at Victoria's Secret for years — but maybe I've been missing out. My coworker (and friend) Jessica Torres and I decided to go undercover to see if shopping at Victoria's Secret would make us feel like Angels.
And it was an ABSOLUTE shitshow.
Jess and I have very different body types — and we both have issues when it comes to finding bras.
Jess wears a 46D, and has a hard time finding cute bras in her size. 67% of women wear a dress size 16 or above, so you'd think America's biggest lingerie retailer would have a myriad of options for her.
The last time I was measured, I wear a 30D. It's difficult for me to find bras that don't sag around me. Since Victoria's Secret LOVES thin models with big boobs — i.e., body types similar to mine — I was pretty sure I'd be able to find bras that fit.
The first thing we realized was that, no matter the location, Victoria's Secret "professional" bra fittings are a circle of hell.
At every store, Jess and I asked multiple sales associates to help us find cute bras in our sizes — 46D and 30D respectively. And every time, we were told that Victoria's Secret doesn't carry those sizes in any of their stores.
But wait! all the associates said. Perhaps you're wearing the wrong bra size! Let's measure you!
That's when we learned why so many women wear the wrong bra size: NOBODY at Victoria's Secret seems to be able to measure the human body.
To begin with, they measured us OVER our clothes. It's winter in New York, and we were both wearing layers. Not a good idea.
But that didn't matter, because according to every associate who measured me, I was actually a 32C — the smallest size they carry in stores. When Jess was measured, the associates repeatedly lied to her face and told her that she'd wear a 38D or DD, the largest size the brand makes.
All they wanted to do was get us into their products — regardless of whether or not they fit.
We heard those alleged "sizes," and were both like...
...but we tried them anyway.
At the first store, Jess was brought a 38DD bra. "This HURT," she said.
"The straps dug into my shoulders, and it cut into my sides. I was spilling over the band. It clearly DID NOT FIT my body, but the associate told me it was a perfect fit."
Another associate brought Jess the next cup size up, a 38DDD — and something happened to the bras.
"There are so many cute, colorful options at Victoria's Secret," said Jess. "But going from a 38DD to a 38DDD, the bright colors drained away. There were only a few options in those sizes, and they were all black and gray."
"Rather than admitting this size was wrong, the associate tried to send me extenders so that I could fit into the bra," said Jess.
"I'm not going to buy extra products so that I can be Victoria's Secret's IDEAL customer. Make a bra that fits me, and women like me — I'm not changing for you."
Meanwhile, in a fitting room down the hall, I was laughing hysterically at THIS "perfect fit."
This bra is a 32C. My cups are literally overflowing. The band — worn on the tightest hook, which the associate incorrectly told me is the "right" way to wear bras — is incredibly loose, and riding up so high in the back it's practically a necklace. This obviously does not fit.
And yet multiple salespeople told me that this size was perfect! It looked so good! Wow! If I were younger and more impressionable, I might actually believe them, and think this is how a bra is meant to fit.
After insisting that the 32C was wrong, the associate brought me a 32D, which would supposedly fit "even better."
But friends, I did not go quiet into this good night. I showed the associate the fact that there's literally room for another additional pair of boobs in this bra with me.
She told me that I could buy padded inserts to "fill out" the cups. Because the problem couldn't possibly be the size of the bra — it's clearly my body.
At the second store, Jess was told that a 38C was "basically the same" as a 46C — and they only had a single style in the store.
"Again, the bra was cutting into my back and shoulders — but the associate told me it was perfect," said Jess. "When I told her that it hurt, she tried to sell me extenders. And when I asked if they had a bra that maybe had more stretch, she walked away from my fitting room, and didn't come back."
"Once again, I felt like women of my size aren't wanted at Victoria's Secret," says Jess.
"I felt like, as a plus-size woman, I was not a priority," she said. "If you don't carry my size, you're saying that you don't want me shopping in your store. You don't think I'm good enough for your products, you don't think my body is sexy, you don't think I should wear your bras. That's sad."
The same sales associate measured me, told me I was "really" a 32C, then assured me that this gappy nightmare was a perfect fit.
Once again, this was absolutely gigantic, and I looked ridiculous. When I told her that the band was far too loose — I could pull it five inches away from my chest, easily — she told me that "Most women don't know what a correctly fitting bra feels like."
Once again, I was measured OVER my clothes to find my "real" bra size. Just to show you how ridiculous that is, THIS is what I was wearing.
This is a heavy sweatshirt over a loose flannel shirt over a long-sleeved tee. Unless I'm going to wear my bra over three layers of bulky clothing, THERE IS A FLAW IN YOUR METHODOLOGY.
That's how you end up with ~amazing~ boob situations like this.
This is me in a 32B bra, my "perfect" size. I'm basically Miranda Kerr right now.
Meanwhile, Jess wasn't measured at all. "The associate didn't even bother with me," she said. "She just handed me two bras in the biggest size they had."
Needless to say, the 38DD still didn't fit. No number of people telling you that a bra fits will make it so!
After a day spent trying on bras that lingerie experts INSISTED fit her, Jess was in literal pain.
"My skin was red and sore from all the bands and underwires digging into me," said Jess. "It reminded me of being a teenager, always in pain from bras that didn't fit — because I believed these salespeople when they told me that this was the way I was supposed to feel."
Dear Victoria's Secret: DO BETTER.
You make six billion dollars a year.
Your fashion show is a global event.
In many places across the US, you are the ONLY bra game in town.
And you're failing us.
We need more sizes. We need to see models who look like us. We need knowledgeable staff who can actually help us.
But most importantly, you need to realize that we don't have to change our bodies to fit your clothes — not with extenders, not with padded inserts. Because we are amazing exactly the way we are.