Victoria’s Secret and the War against Beauty
Truth, goodness, and beauty are the three qualities which point the human soul to God. These three are called the “transcendentals,” because they transcend time and space: whatever is true, good, and beautiful now will still be so 500 years from now, and was so 500 years ago. For millennia, the human soul has craved these three qualities, since the human soul was made to be in communion in God, and God is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty incarnate.
For centuries, however, all three have been under attack, and never more aggressively, it would seem, than within the past few decades. Truth has been censored, deconstructed, and diluted. Goodness has been made subjective. And beauty has been eviscerated.
But the human soul still craves these things. Truth is still sought out, goodness is quietly preserved, and beauty is still yearned for. For the past few years in particular, beauty has been brutally assaulted: pundits and media moguls assure us that amorphous bodies with no defining sex characteristics wearing minimalist attire are sexy.
The clothing industry has been especially rife with this diabolical trend of inverting beauty but calling it by the same name. Calvin Klein, for example, has pushed a series of progressively worse ad campaigns, from featuring a “pregnant” man in a Mother’s Day promotion to squeezing a fat, hairy man into a sports bra and calling it sexy. But the human soul knows better what beauty is.
The high-end lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret has learned this and has decided to give the human soul the beauty it craves, announcing last week that it will be ditching its woke agenda and returning to the standards which earned it its “sexy” reputation in the first place. Of course, this decision isn’t due to any moral compunction regarding the objective standards of transcendental beauty — that would indeed be too much to expect of a major corporation in today’s libertine landscape — but is instead a decision based on the almighty dollar. The company’s revenue for 2023 is expected to come in at nearly $1.3 billion less than it did in 2020, and projections don’t anticipate it rising thanks to social justice warriors suddenly taking an interest in looking sexy.
It should surprise no one to learn that replacing the infamous “angels” with smug LGBT icons like soccer player Megan Rapinoe resulted in plummeting sales. In 2021, Rapinoe said that Victoria’s Secret had previously promoted an image that was “patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired.”
Of course, that’s really what high-end lingerie brands like Victoria’s Secret are all about: heightening and sharpening the attraction between men and women. A bra and panties or a three-pack of boxer-briefs bought at Walmart will likely be very comfortable to wear, but it will also likely be lacking in the seduction department. In essence, Rapinoe was criticizing the foundation of Victoria’s Secret, the very thing that made the brand popular and profitable. But, like all the best lies, there is a miniscule granule of truth to Rapinoe’s comments: Victoria’s Secret has profited for years from the objectification of women. However, the antidote to this malady isn’t to objectify and turn into lust-objects the ugliness wrought by feminism and the LGBT agenda but is instead to glorify the natural beauty of women.
But more than that, Rapinoe’s comments highlighted a crucial, oft-overlooked facet of the attack on beauty. That beauty itself is under attack is evident nearly everywhere one cares to look: from the construction of ungodly miles of gas stations and the conversion of towns and cities into sprawling strip malls to the very look of modern buildings. Schools and even government buildings were once things of beauty, but they now resemble nothing more defined or beautiful than the shapeless, drab bricks of which they’re made. Churches were once soaring monuments of man’s yearning for God, truly houses of worship, great Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo towers reaching up to Heaven in awe and supplication — now churches have all the holiness in appearance of convention centers and conference halls.
The attack on beauty, like the attack on truth and goodness, is linked to an attack on the family. Through the rabid promotion of LGBTism in clothing, makeup, and all manner of “beauty products,” the distinction between the sexes is diluted, confused, or erased. And as Rapinoe’s comments make clear, “beauty” in the modern leftist’s lexicon is no longer about appearing attractive in the eyes of one’s beloved, no longer about exciting interest and intrigue in the heart of another, and certainly no longer about celebrating one’s own dignity as being made in the image and likeness of God; no, “beauty” now is about making oneself feel good, enjoying oneself without participation from the other, crowning oneself “beautiful” without any regard for whether one actually is beautiful.
The celebrated Christian author C.S. Lewis once wrote of love:
“The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male… To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness.”
Rapinoe’s assessment of beauty dismisses even the vanity of Lilith, not desiring the desiring of her own beauty but only desiring calling a thing beautiful which no one else finds beautiful. The leftist’s revision of “beauty” is, in fact, simply self-serving. No man desires a woman who insists that ugliness must be called beautiful, just as no woman respects a man who insists the same. A family is beautiful, a mother and a father lovingly raising their children is beautiful, but the leftist has now given himself (or herself or themselves or ze/zim/zerself) full license to call it ugly and to call a butch feminist lesbian who looks like a discarded prototype for a Batman villain, or a morbidly obese woman thrashing about on a stage in a sequined leotard about to burst at the seams, “beautiful.”
Of course, some brands have refused to toe the woke-imaging line. Brooks Brothers and J. Crew, for example, have always featured in their ad campaigns men with strong jaws and women with delicate features. No nonsense about men in skirts or women with Gestapo officers’ haircuts, only men in rugby shirts sipping beer together around a bonfire and heterosexual couples taking their children for a walk through the woods or a ride on the family-owned sailboat. Sure, both Brooks Brothers and J. Crew have toyed with Pride Month, but neither has featured “pregnant” men in advertising or asked failed soccer players to be brand spokespersons on the strength of lesbianism alone. Brands like Brooks Brothers and J. Crew haven’t always performed well financially, but they have become “classics,” weathering the tests of time and not deviating from what they — and their customers — know to be beautiful.
Victoria’s Secret ditching its woke, anti-beauty agenda is a step in the right direction and shows, at the very least, that the hearts and minds of Americans aren’t so dulled to beauty yet as to be incapable of recognizing it, or its diabolical inversion. But it also reveals the power the everyday American holds in each boardroom and CEO’s office: as much as woke corporations may deride and despise the general public, they still need that public’s money, and if push comes to shove they will drop their anti-transcendental agendas to make a buck.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.