Labor markets in everything

by on November 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

What does it take to be a Victoria’s Angel?:

She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes – “no solids”. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and “just drink normally”. Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely.

“No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,” she says.

The pointer is from Mocost on Twitter.

Consumer November 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

… And when they see the show, men will want to be with them and women will want to be like them… these naturally beautiful models…

zrzzz November 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I don’t know any straight men who put up posters of skeletal runway models. Men who are into women with the physique of a young boy would probably rather be with a young boy.

Rahul November 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Let’s ask Jerry Sandusky.

FooFighter November 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm

So it turns the entire time i thought I was into beautiful women, it turns out im a homosexual pedophile? Victorias secret is darker than I ever imagined.

FooFighter November 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm

*Apologies for the general poor grammar.

NAME REDACTED November 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I disagree that those models are beautiful.

FooFighter November 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm

With all due respect, I don’t care.

Tracy W November 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Out of curiosity, do you see a valuable difference aesthetically between her, and say a Las Vegas showgirl doing the same show each night and thus unable to do all that multi-day build up?

Tom November 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm


Miley Cyrax November 13, 2011 at 2:38 am

You like girls with big tits, pretty faces, and thin waists? You’re clearly a homosexual pedophile.

NAME REDACTED November 14, 2011 at 12:35 am

They often have rather manly jawlines, and they also often have skeletal faces.

bunker brown November 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I am straight and I like Adriana Lima. I like that she has boobs and a vag-two things young boys don’t have.

Skeletal women can also be insanely fun in bed, with respect to positions, etc., that their heavier sisters can’t.

Cliff November 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm

A Victoria’s Secret model is not skeletal.

JWatts November 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Did you actually look at the pictures or read the article for that matter?

She is not a scare crow. She is on a serious training regimen with lots of exercise, not a starvation diet.

TGGP November 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm

It’s true that “lad mags” which cater exclusively to men are going to feature more womanly women than fashion modeling, but Adriana Lima is still hot.

stedebonnet November 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm

If she had mentioned reconstructive surgery, Id buy your sarcasm. Adrianna Lima and most of the Victoria secret models are naturally attractive. And what they are doing to themselves (even if probably unhealthy), isn’t necessarily unnatural. She works out, drinks a ton of water, and eats protein. That sounds like pretty much every other health conscious person I know.

I agree that she is less beautiful by self-inflicted emaciation. But she is still naturally ascetically pleasing.

Michele November 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I love that you said ascetically instead of aesthetically.

celestus November 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Sounds healthier than playing football. Which I will happily watch tomorrow.

MGH November 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

With those magnificent austerity capabilities she really should have been recruited to advise

Gj November 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Please summarize for non FT-suscribers ;)

R.Mutt November 13, 2011 at 4:31 am

You can always access FT articles via google.

R.Mutt November 13, 2011 at 4:33 am
Tracy W November 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I wonder what difference does all this effort make on the margin? And is any gain from looking sexy, or is it from appealing specifically to fashion editors? I’m not male, but most men strike me as more easily pleased than would warrant such effort.

zrzzz November 12, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Fashion is not about the model, it’s about the clothes. It’s no coincidence that they choose formless, skeletal models. Designers want people to notice the clothes. The women are just serving as animated coat hangers.

Sandeep November 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm

There is a core of truth in what you say, but you are grossly oversimplifying. There is no way animated coat hangers would make millions. Secondly I could be wrong on this, but I think Victoria’s secret models, though thin, are not as skinny and formless as one sees on, say european fashion shows. However it also doesn’t stand to reason that they are chosen based on male tastes, since if so these models would keep varying from year to year.

I am quite interested in what the deal is, on this. A wikipedia article links to some studies saying men prefer women of average build and that women overestimate male preference for thinness etc. Is this universally accepted? If so what exactly are the parameters that cause fashion models to be as thin as they are? Is it, as some people say, due to a (n allegedly) large proportion of gays in fashion industry?

Tracy W November 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

If that’s the case, then what’s the marginal benefit of an animated formless coathanger hiring a nutritionist?
I can understand this approach of squeezing out the last millisecond of performance for Olympic athletes as the difference between gold and silver is so vital. But what’s the marginal gain here?

Miley Cyrax November 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Cue female and white knight sanctimonious outrage over the “impossible” and oppressive beauty standards imposed on girls by society.

NAME REDACTED November 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Um, I just don’t think the models are pretty. They look like younger versions of skeletor. Its creepy; you can see all the bones in their face and elsewhere.

TallDave November 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Marketing studies suggest that is a minority opinion.

The reasons why are interesting though — it seems to be a modern phenomenon. I suspect there is a part of our brains that responds to caloric intake by telling us curvier women are more attractive, because they will represent a better breeding risk in time of food scarcity. So because we find ourselves in a situation where food is ridiculously plentiful (from an historical/anthropological perspective) our poor brains, in this anomalous situation for which they are poorly adapted, are telling most of us to breed with the skinniest women that still look reasonably healthy.

TallDave November 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm

*responds to decreased caloric intake, sorry

When is Tyler putting this excellent blog on Disqus?

MD November 12, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Have you ever seen the Victoria’s Secret fashion show? It’s not haute-couture–the model’s generally aren’t just rails. (Nor are they “plus-sized”.)

Cliff November 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Are we looking at the same pictures?? I don’t see any bones…

JWatts November 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm


Evan Harper November 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Looks like there’s a healthy dose of pseudoscience in that regimen, too — there is no need for anybody who isn’t constantly sweating heavily or working at high altitude to be drinking a gallon of water a day!

FooFighter November 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Curbs the appetite.

Evan Harper November 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Nah, the latest studies show that it’s not an effective appetite suppressant, although that may be what they’re trying to use it for.

Rahul November 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Nothing concentrates the mind as an imperative need to pee.

Petar November 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I assume that the general idea of the water drinking regimen is to retain as little water in the body as possible on the show day. (Surprised noone commented she was following essentially a body-buidling competition preparation regimen). Drinking a lot of water is supposed to prime the organism for quick water removal, hence the strong effect of the 12 hours without drinking water. Presumably she won’t be using diuretics, though.

Chris November 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm

All high end workout stuff is pseudoscience insofar as there are no clinical trials of the crazy stuff high end workout people do. This is unlikely to change in the near future.

cristina reads your blog November 15, 2011 at 9:59 am

gallon of water a day makes you pee. Stop drinking the gallon, you’re still going to pee out a gallon the next day until your body adjusts. This is pretty well documented in science-science.

Rahul November 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

What do the advertising studies show? Do women buy more when presented with waif thin models?

Sandeep November 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm

My question too (as I have commented above). I have googled a lot on this, but actual numbers seem so hard to find.

Miley Cyrax November 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Victoria’s Secret models tend to be more facially attractive and markedly more amply bosom’d than your typical runway fashion model.

Rahul November 12, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Maybe parsimony of the frame accentuates ampleness of the bosom?

stedebonnet November 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Although this is an interesting question, as a general point, its irrelevant for fashion shows. Because these events aren’t typically designed for mass consumption or to advertise. They are showcases (to fashion professionals) of a designer’s newest lines. There are hundreds of fashion shows per year, how many are frequented or watched by the average consumer? I can bet the VS fashion show is pretty much the only one that is watched by a large group of people.

Rahul November 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Are the angels Victoria uses on the ramp different from the ones that end up in the print catalogs and TV ads?

bluto November 12, 2011 at 8:34 pm

No, their show is basically a video catalog. It’s mostly done for the TV program, and probably the only one that has a decent amount of straight male interest.

stedebonnet November 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Do women watch the fashion show to decide about their next purchases? And are women the only people the fashion show is directed at? I’m sure there are plenty of men out there who have bought their significant others lingerie (or maybe I’m in the minority there). So it probably also matters how men react to the advertising.

The show is also directed at fashion writers, other designers, etc. which probably influence purchases as much as the show.

NAME REDACTED November 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm

“The show is also directed at fashion writers, other designers, etc.”

So, mostly gay men?

bluto November 12, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Store buyers are also there, that’s ultimately the goal.

stedebonnet November 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm

So VS sells their products to other stores? I wasn’t sure how contracts worked for designers employed by a company that has its own (large) chain of stores.

I know that Brooks Brothers buys suits from Southwick, but likely uses worse material. I also recall that Faded Glory (the Walmart brand) purchased CK patterns, but used poorer quality materials and only single stitched seams in constructing the garment. Its funny how little product differentiation occurs in clothing cuts. Sure, designers have their own “styles,” but those styles are used by pretty much every store.

stedebonnet November 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm


My main point is this: The primary purpose of a fashion show isn’t to advertise. If the sole purpose was to sway consumers, it wouldn’t be a “fashion-show.” There are more efficient ways to sell products than this type of venue (like a 20 second clip on TV).

bluto November 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm

VS’s fashion show is probably only done to be put on TV, better to get a 60 minute clip (and 60 second clips on the late news, too).

Careless November 13, 2011 at 11:47 am

Yes, their fashion show gets solid television ratings, the equal to a somewhat popular show.

stedebonnet November 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

The VS fashion show has existed outside of TV. They only started showing the event on network TV in 01.

Out of curiosity, do you think that the selection criteria for models changed after the event went public?

TallDave November 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

And that’s a breeze compared to what bodybuilders do to themselves.

People always underestimate the work that goes into that sort of thing.

Chris November 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Exactly. What’s the big deal.

Tracy W November 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm

The thing that puzzles me about bodybuilding is that when they’re competing they look thoroughly unattractive (many bodybuilders look quite attractive when dressed up for something like attending a wedding). I figure that the oil and the poses are there to highlight the perfection of the muscles, as that is what the judges will be judging. But who are the VS models appealing to? It looks to me like heterosexual men, and most heterosexual men don’t strike me as being that picky.

FXKLM November 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm

The skinniness of models isn’t necessarily about looking attractive; it’s about looking glamorous. The skinny, glamorous image does appeal to women, especially the type of woman who buys expensive, fashionable clothes. Skinniness also tends to make clothes look more attractive, which is really more important in modeling than making the model herself look attractive.

will November 13, 2011 at 4:23 am

Bone structure is extra detail that accentuates form. As opposed to a formless blob of an arm, etc.

Claudia Sahm November 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I have to admit my first reaction to the post was a grumpy thought bubble at the OP and a reminder that I really should do sit ups… But then I read the interview. Lima makes clear the sacrifices…even with a lot of natural talent…she has had to make. She’s a success story…articulate, hardworking…in her profession of modeling. Now it’s not a profession I ever wanted to join and I still think Victoria Secret stores and brand are bizarre…but I do respect her.

burger flipper November 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm

nothing compared to what wrestlers and UFC fighters go through

8 November 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm

The gay male dominated fashion industry is populated by fashion models who have the bodies of 12-year old boys. Victoria’s Secrets sells to straight men, who are concerned with TnA. There was a mini-scandal back in the 90s or so, when VS was accused of sending men catalogues with better deals than those sent to women. On that score, it’s also one of the only “ladies fashion” catalogues that mails to men……

Is Ms. Lima making too much effort? The lardosity of the West says no.

Rahul November 13, 2011 at 1:19 am

TnA? What’s that?

Careless November 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

tits and ass

stedebonnet November 13, 2011 at 12:56 am

VS was also started by a man, because he felt uncomfortable purchasing his wife lingerie. The company has changed hands, but its entire business model (at least initially) was designed with men in mind. The type of stores, the sales staff, the sizing, etc.

fawful November 13, 2011 at 2:09 am

I have to laugh at the people calling Victoria’s Secret models “skeletal”. Lingerie models are never the scrawny waifish high-fashion type. Lingerie/glamor models tend to be more statuesque, tall and lean/muscular but with large breasts and round hips.

Yes, they are far more beautiful than most women can ever aspire to, but that is very generally true of everyone depicted in media. Almost no one is as cool, eloquent, funny, dangerous, well-dressed or attractive as the people we like to watch on TV and movies.

CMC November 13, 2011 at 3:42 am

Totally agree. I also agree with others who commented earlier that wafer thin catwalk models are unattractive, but this is not the case with Victoria’s Secret models, and lingerie models in general. A prime example of a statuesque, tall and lean/muscular but with large breasts and round hips here: .

I suspect most straight males would find this figure type attractive. She doesn’t look like the girl who lives next to my house, or most houses, but definitely not skeletal either.

Andrew' November 13, 2011 at 6:03 am

Since I can’t be a Victoria’s Angel, are there any openings for a Victoria’s Devil?

Matt November 13, 2011 at 6:15 am

Apparently it takes an almost masculine hip waist-to-hip ratio to be a Victoria’s Angel, if that pic of AL is any judge…

With all the hubub about whether Victoria’s Secret models are attractive or not, it’s sufficient to say that they are attractive, but a) they are women in their mid to late 20s, trying to emulate the slenderness and smallness of late teen girls through dieting and b) are selected also for brand name recognition, memorable faces and personal drive and energy and the ability and willingness to fly around all over the world, rather than purely attractiveness.

They’re obviously not that much more attractive than average women, even of their height, in a way that suggests extremely high selection on looks, particularly even average women of their height who are about 7-10 years younger.

Cliff November 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The theater of the absurd continues…

Peter November 13, 2011 at 9:04 am

I 100% guarantee you that every single Victoria’s Secret model does something else. Hint: it involves a razor :(

Careless November 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

at this point I think I’d be creeped out being in a barber shop with you.

rob November 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm

cocaine. peter’s talking about cocaine.

stedebonnet November 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Cocaine? Or:
1. Being well-groomed?
2. Suffering crazy self-esteem issues?
3. Trimming photographs of themselves to frame?
4. Opening Boxes?
5. Scraping stickers their children at put in places they shouldn’t (could you believe how many were Mothers)?

Just a few uses that came to my naive thought process. I was about to ask…how could models (who are mostly low paid) afford cocaine? Then it hit me. They obviously don’t need to pay for it.

Rahul November 13, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Is cocaine use restricted to the upper classes? I didn’t know it was that expensive.

Careless November 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm

it’s fairly cheap now. It used to be very expensive.

Careless November 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm

For people who haven’t seen him around before: Peter has a pubic hair fetish

NAME REDACTED November 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

There’s nothing wrong with that. I used to view Guns N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” as a theme song.

steve November 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

What does it take to be a Victoria’s Secret Model. You have to be really, really, hot.

axa November 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

and we are in a Hansonian hell. How many of the previous comments are just about signaling loyalty to a romantic partner or rampant display of emotional insecurity? This is a PERSONAL topic, we’re not talking about “economy” or any other distant and abstract topic.

First, we need to know how many of the commenters are married or in stable relationship. These people have a really good motive to express their dislike with “those skeletal girls”, cause their romantic partner may not be that hot. If you like the model, how can you “really love” your real world woman? Then, how many of the commenters are overweight? For emotional insecure guys is an easy solution to tag the models as “ugly skeletal women”. They reject the girl cause in the real world they have been rejected many times by beautiful women. So, they protect their fragile self-steem against a new rejection saying they dislike the VS models.

I had to do crazy stuff in college to get my engineering degree, and now every once in a while I have to do crazy to stuff to advance in my career. If I were observed, the observer would comment “this guy uses sleep deprivation in order to get the code (PERL) working, weird!”. So, I understand why models have to do hard work in order to succeed in that competitive environment. Adriana Lima is HOT! Now, please try to be honest before posting some hate comments.

ps. an apology to all the non-haters =)

cristina reads your blog November 15, 2011 at 9:55 am


cristina reads your blog November 15, 2011 at 9:53 am

The responses to this are completely off base.
Those models are cutting – they’re dehydrating for a very short controlled amout of time to either lose some mass, gain muscle definition, or both. This isn’t some crazy diet, bodybuilders, wrestlers, and basically any sport that has weight classes does this. Notice that they’re still eating. Protein shakes (“The concoctions include powdered egg”) are food.

They’re purposefully cutting carbs carbohydrate bloat (cabs = water retention), while keeping up regular (or possibly sligthly reduced) levels of calories. You drink a gallon a say to encourage your body to urinate a lot, then when you stop drinking the day before the event, you keep on peeing and don’t replenish.

This is really no big deal if you’re smart about it, and hundreds of male high schoolers do this and much much worse for wrestling meets.

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