Songs for the Struggling Artist


I Also Know Victoria’s Secret
September 6, 2022, 11:58 pm
Filed under: feminism | Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s a song by a young woman, that has emerged via Tik Tok, that is extremely popular, called “Victoria’s Secret.” In it, she (she goes by Jax) reveals that the secret of Victoria is that she was made up by a dude. It’s a fun pop tune about body empowerment, with Victoria’s Secret at the center. Here are some of the lyrics:

God, I wish somebody would’ve told me
When I was younger that all bodies aren’t the same
Photoshop, itty bitty models on magazine covers
Told me I was overweight

I stopped eating, what a bummer
Can’t have carbs in a hot girl summer
If I could go back and tell myself
When I was younger, I’d say, psst

I know Victoria’s secret
And girl, you wouldn’t believe
She’s an old man who lives in Ohio
Making money off of girls like me
Cashing in on body issues
Selling skin and bones with big boobs
I know Victoria’s secret
She was made up by a dude

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It’s a super catchy song and I recommend the video on her Tik Tok which is a flash mob video in front of a Victoria’s Secret.

I’ve had the song in my head pretty much since I heard it.

And every time it comes around again, I think, we should have stopped this a long time ago. What a terrible power this dumb store has had on the psyches of girls. I don’t think I realized before because Victoria’s Secret is just another store to me. I remember when it showed up at the mall. We mostly just made fun of it. We bought our bras and underwear at places like Kmart and department stores. Victoria’s Secret was flimsy and fit badly and had cheesy angel marketing, like Playboy but with wings instead of bunny ears. I maybe went in there once? We thought it was mostly men who went in there to buy cheesy lingerie for their wives and girlfriends. And I feel like there was some evidence that that was true in those early days. I think it may have even been the impetus of the founding of the store. But something happened as time went by. I really don’t know what it was that happened because I was not paying attention.

Victoria’s Secret somehow turned from being a cheesy underwear store at the mall to a foundational place for girls. If I’m reading the song right, children are growing up trying to model themselves on the marketing of Victoria’s Secret. It’s become some sort of twisted guide-star for girls looking toward womanhood. And I thought it was just a dumb store.

I have always known Victoria’s Secret was made up by a dude. It is not news to me but it seems to be powerful news to the young girls of the moment.

But I get it, I suppose. We don’t like to think about the objectification and sexualization that girls are drawn to, interested in and exploited by. We like to think of girls as innocent creatures who have no interest in sex or its trappings, who will remain untouched by the culture until they are old enough. But it’s not true. If it’s not the culture teaching them how to pose and present themselves, it’s their own interest and curiosity that will lead them to places like Victoria’s Secret long before we’d like for them to notice such things.

I didn’t grow up with the spectre of Victoria’s Secret’s unattainable ideals but when I was little, I found some copies of Playboy magazine and spent some quiet mornings examining them, trying to understand the sexy grown-up world. I was discovered, so my exposure was pretty limited but I did see enough to build a belief system that this is what being a grown-up sexy woman should be. Luckily, I didn’t buy into it too much – but things like Playboy at least had the advantage of being somewhat hidden. It wasn’t at the mall and it wasn’t a part of my every day exposure.

There has been an extreme objectification movement in the culture since around about the time Victoria’s Secret first opened in the mall. It feels like it gets worse and worse every year – what with the Instagram filters and the Tik Tok beauty trends and now everyone has to look camera ready all the time. Things like nudie magazines seem quite quaint in comparison.

All this to say, I’m sorry I didn’t catch what damage Victoria’s Secret was doing when it first came out. I would have gone to the mall and held our Take Back the Night rallies there instead. We could have made a lot of noise, twirled sports bras around our heads or something. Instead, it’s this next generation, after decades of Victoria’s Secret marinating in the culture, that finally begins to shift things. Apparently, the Victoria’s Secret corporate office has reached out to Jax to have her help them make the brand more inclusive; Jax has told them where they can stick it and asked her fans if they have anything to say to the corporate office, since they’re listening. Girls and young women are speaking their truth to power. That seems like progress somehow. Pointless to talk to those powers now, perhaps, now that so much damage has been done but still, maybe the needle is moving.


I thought Victoria’s Secret was just a crappy store where I couldn’t get a bra that fits (I send away to Poland for my bras, btw, that’s how bad the American lingerie system is) but I think we just never really know what is taking up so much space in the brains of the generations that follow us. I’m sorry Gen Z. I wish I’d known where this was going. I’d have fought harder for you earlier

I tried to find you a photo of this place from the 80s at the mall and I failed. Just imagine a much trashier place with angel wings and you’ll be close.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunesStitcherSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotifymy websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Circles of Gen X Friends

Someone in the Gen X subreddit proposed a “dating” app for making Gen X friends. I expressed my enthusiasm for it, saying it appealed to me because most of my Gen X friends have moved out of NYC. Someone replied that they still had a lot of Gen X friends in NYC and I did not respond to that person with a hearty sarcastic, “Well good for you! Aren’t you a lucky one?” Though I wanted to.

I did not say, “I guess most of your friends didn’t move to NYC to chase their theatre dreams or their art dreams or their music dreams or their poetry dreams or their film dreams or their dance dreams and I guess everything worked out for your people, huh?”

Now I don’t mean to imply that stuff didn’t work out for my friends. They moved here to follow their dreams and then they followed them to other places. They run theatres in their hometowns or their adopted cities. They have poetry programs and dance companies around the world. They make movies in their native mountains. They make paintings and sculptures of their new neighborhoods. They bring their big city dream-following perspective to young people in far flung spots. It’s working out for them.

But the fact of those folks leaving does mean that any community that formed when we all moved here has been scattered and lost. I imagine that this happens to every generation at some point. Everyone moves to NYC like they’re going to be here forever and then they leave after a handful of years. I guess that’s the norm. Contrarian that I am, I moved here like I was only going to stay a year and here I still am, over two decades later. I miss the leavers and need to find (or reconnect to) more stayers.

That’s why a Gen X “dating” app for friends sounded really good to me. That’s why (prior to the pandemic) I wanted to be invited to your party. That’s why I joined multiple book clubs. That’s why I joined a knitting/crochet group, even though I am VERY BAD at crochet. I will tell you – in every single instance of attempting to make friends in this city – I was always the lone Gen X-er. Every single time. So, sure, this random person on Reddit may still know a lot of Gen X-ers who live here but they probably travel in much different circles than I do. Maybe they’re high-powered lawyers or over-committed doctors. Maybe they belong to the Yale Club or Soho House and hang out drinking martinis with fancy people. That’s nice. Sounds like fun. I used to hang out at Dojo where you could get a whole carrot-ginger dressing-covered dinner for less than $5.  It’s harder to find Gen X-ers here, in general, and even more challenging to find some who would have felt at home on the St. Mark’s Place of yore.

It’s not like I don’t have any Gen X friends here. I still have quite a few. It’s just that I used to have a community of Gen X friends, or rather, communities. Two decades ago, I had circles of friends. I had theatre friends, music friends, circus friends, education friends, college friends, Shakespeare friends, random friends, friends from my home state. There were circles that intersected and some that never would. I have lone friends now. The communities have gone off to more hospitable climates but one lone friend usually remains. Often, I am that lone friend.

Also, the friends I still have here are New Yorkers and therefore usually impossibly busy. Most of them are also parents so they don’t have acres of time for galavanting around NYC with the childfree likes of me. It’s not that no Gen X-ers are here. It’s just that they are busy and the social nets of our communities have vanished and so we stand a vanishing chance of just happening to be in the same places together at the same time.

So maybe I don’t need a Gen X friend app. I need a Gen X circle creating app. It’s not that all the dream followers have followed their dreams elsewhere – some of us are still here – it’s that the communities that formed around those dreams have dissipated and there’s no good way for those of us whose circles have vanished to build new circles.

Frankly, I think it’s a problem that this city spits out as many artists and dream chasers as it does. It may be good for the places it spits people back into, but it is terrible for the artistic life of this city.

We lost artists from multiple generations this last year and a half. The city failed to support most of them in their darkest hours and now we’ve lost them, probably forever.

Most Gen X artists already left when they were in their 30s and now most Millennials are in their 30s (the eldest ones are turning 40 this year) and what with the abysmal way this city supported its artists recently and the inevitable waves of NYC spitting out its dream followers, I think there’s bound to be an exodus in the next decade. Maybe I’ll be in it, who knows? (Unlikely, where would I go?)

Will Gen Z artists and dream-followers even bother coming here? If they do, I hope this circle dispersal doesn’t happen to them, too. I read recently that we know a city is dying when young people stop moving there to chase their dreams. I’m not loving the prognosis for NYC that way right now. Maybe let’s get that circle app going, pronto.

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In case you’re new here, I wrote a whole series about Gen X a few years ago. It starts here and expands in many thematic directions. Or you could search the whole range of Gen X writing here.

Just a circle of Gen X childfree friends galavanting around the city like we used to. We’re going to go get a soy burger at Dojo after.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunesStitcherSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotifymy websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me make some Gen X circles?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis




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