Victoria’s Secret is being praised for signing model Barbara Palvin as the first “plus-size” angel. The only problem? Palvin is far from plus size.
The 25-year-old Hungarian born model made headlines earlier this week when the lingerie brand announced she was the latest to receive the infamous VS wings.
“I don’t know where to begin but I’ll try,” Palvin wrote in an Instagram post revealing the news. “I never thought it would happen and it has exceeded all my expectations. I’m very excited to announce that I’m officially a @victoriassecret ANGEL ! Thank you for believing in me.”
Palvin’s good news was overshadowed after a pro-skinny Facebook group dubbed called “Superficial Doll” dubbed her the lone “plus size” model on the brand’s notoriously ultra-thin roster.
Amongst photos and videos of famous faces like Kylie Jenner and the Hadid sisters, the group shared photos of the model writing, “Barbara Palvin is FINALLY the first plus size Victoria’s Secret Angel. She DESERVES it.”
The post was shared more than 148,000 times, but at 5’9” with a 24-inch waist, Palvin is far from plus size.
“If she’s plus size then I’m truck size,” one female follower joked.
Others took the post as a far more sinister sign of the warped perception and value of thinness amongst our society that would warrant Palvin’s 121 pounds to be considered plus size.
“Stop calling her plus sized,” Facebook user Renee Wagner said of the misleading post. “Victoria’s Secret never called her a plus sized model. People just assume she is because they’re praising her for having more curves than the typical Angels.”
“No wonder girls and women suffer from such bad body insecurities! She is a size 10 at best (U.S. 6) and that’s nowhere near plus size,” wrote Sophie Dumaine White. “Victoria’s Secret needs to have a word with their advertisement because it’s no wonder there’s vulnerable people (not just women) out there starving themselves to get what they see as a ‘perfect figure’ when in reality it’s very unhealthy! Shame on you!!”
Palvin, who has been working as a model since she was a teen, first modelled for the brand in 2012. When the brunette beauty was dropped by Victoria’s Secret in the years that followed, rumours spread throughout the modelling world it was due to her weight.
Palvin has also made headlines after being fat shamed for her spread in the 2016 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
For her part, Palvin has been open about her struggles to embrace her changing body. In 2018, the model told Grazia magazine, “I’m constantly at war with my body -staying in shape is a daily challenge... It’s hard for me to respect the rigorous criteria governing a model’s figure.”
The backlash towards Superficial Dolls, although warranted, reveals a greater issue at large: the more than 121,000 followers who support the group and its diffusion of pro-skinny imagery. This group straddles the fine line between fashion appreciation and thinspiration/pro-anorexia content. The group represents a stain on the representation of women and beauty in society that unfortunately, has a large following to prey upon.
At press time, neither Palvin or Victoria’s Secret have issued a comment.