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LIVING MY GAP YEAR

A Curiosity Satisfied: the Angel Edition

Zuzu Tadeushuk

My Brief (and Bemusing) Encounter with Victoria's Secret

I’m generally a serious person, and not always the most responsive recipient of jokes— many a punchline has left me wondering. But there was one genuine knee-slapper I happened upon the other day—or rather that happened upon ME— whose knee-slapperly-ness was so striking even I couldn't miss it: and that was a request for me to try out for a certain illustrious runway show by none other than the certainly illustrious Victoria’s Secret! Now, for those of you who don't know, the annual VS Fashion Show is a huge event, possibly the biggest of the fashion calendar from a model’s perspective, and I hear walking in the show can "make" a girl’s career. So trying out for it sounds all fine and dandy, but there's just one hitch: I’m not what you’d call generously endowed when it comes to the bosom department.

That I found myself confronted with the vague possibility of walking the most publicized catwalk of the year in nothing but a pushup and underwear- and a pair of “angel” wings, perhaps- is poignantly ironic (unless they're debuting a new line for preteens?) It is so ironic, in fact, that I almost didn’t go, nearly waved it off as an April fool’s joke arrived six months early… This course of action seemed especially tempting to me because the Victoria’s secret persona is so contradictory to my own character that I would have been happy for a reason to avoid the casting, and the fact that they weren’t likely to hire me no matter what I did (short of plastic surgery) seemed like a pretty good reason. But I resisted this inherent urge to flee, and I did go to the casting— if only to be able to tell you about it after...

So. The two most important things to know before attending a VS casting? First of all: the walk. The Victoria’s secret walk is no ordinary walk: it is a far cry from the boyish, fierce, and sometimes even sullen march of the high fashion shows I’ve experienced. Rather, the Victoria’s Secret walk is posey, prancey, playful, and, of course, sexy. The Victoria’s Secret walk involves flirting and waving and kiss-blowing and hip-swinging. The Victoria’s secret walk is the farthest from a Zuzu sort of walk you can possibly get (except for perhaps a sumo wrestler’s walk)! And so it required some practice. I watched videos on youtube and got tips from my agents (tips that involved them having a great time demonstrating the strut with me following gawkily behind)!

The second- and best- part of the VS persona is the smiling. Unlike any other runway I know, the VS fashion show not only allows smiling on the catwalk, but requires it! It makes for a refreshing variation when you’ve just spent a month sporting the Ready-to-Wear scowl.

When the anticipated Monday finally arrived of the grand Victoria’s Secret casting, I stepped into the VS headquarters to find it lined with large black-and-white lingerie posters, billowy gauze curtains of the sort you see in perfume commercials, and models waiting to be conducted into the inner sanctum where their angel/no-angel fates would be determined. But when my turn came, I found the meeting to be, after my highly-hyped preparation, somewhat flat (hah… speaking of flat)! What I mean is, it wasn’t quite as intimidating as I expected it to be, and it wasn't all as challenging either. I walked into that small, plain reception chamber (dauntingly referred to as The Room) half expecting to be confronted by a vast panel of VS royalty stroking their chins as they silently observed and appraised me, but instead found only three people within: three important people, to be sure, but three nonetheless. Once inside, the casting was quick and followed standard casting procedure (only this one was carried out entirely in lingerie). One at a time, each model strutted up and down the length of The Room, posed for some digitals, and left feeling relieved (believe me, I was not the only girl nervous to be there! I actually found that I was less nervous than my peers, as I felt pretty certain I had negative percent chance of booking the thing, while they still had excruciating room for hope).

Though the actual meeting may have lasted less than three minutes, and though I have since been proven correct in assuming they wouldn’t hire me, I am glad I went because the whole extravaganza reminded me that personality is a malleable thing and limitations are liquid— that it is possible for me to embody once again something I may not feel compatible with (in this case blowing kisses at relative strangers) and come out having expanded my knowledge of myself on some small front, in some small way. When I finished the casting, I went and took a cookie- naturally- from the plate of them in the lobby that not a single other model had touched (um, they cause stomach bloating, didn’t you know?) and boarded a bus for sunset suburbia, notebook already in hand!

With Noel and Melissa at VS