The power of body positivity propels 'Victoria Secret' from TikTok hit to Billboard charts

·5 min read

Singer-Songwriter Jax struck a chord with her latest song “Victoria’s Secret” as she called out the underwear company while sending a body positive message, landing her on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for the first time.

The song blames the billion-dollar lingerie company for promoting unattainable beauty standards and profiting from body image issues of young girls the company contributed to creating.

Jax first posted the song on TikTok June 7, sharing that she wrote it for the child she babysits after the 12-year-old was body shamed by a friend while shopping at Victoria’s Secret.

“I wrote a song for you because when I was your age, I had a lot of eating problems and I wish somebody would have said this to me,” Jax tells her before playing the song.

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

The 26-year-old's song debuted at No. 83 during the July 29 - Aug, 4 tracking week and hit No. 66 during its second week on the chart. As the message spread beyond TikTok it got the attention of Victoria’s Secret and PINK CEO Amy Hauk.

“I want to thank Jax for addressing important issues in her lyrics. We make no excuses for the past. And we’re committed to regaining your trust,” Hauk said in a statement on Instagram. “We are committed to building a community where everyone feels seen and respected. And if we mess up or can do better, we want to know.”

The song also discreetly calls out Les Wexner, the founder of Victoria’s Secret’s former parent company L Brand, referring to him as Victoria whose secret is that “she’s an old man who lives in Ohio/making money off of girls like me.”

Victoria's Secret previously faced criticism for its lack of diversity among their models after the company's former chief marketing officer Ed Razek told Vogue in 2018 he wasn't interested in casting transgender or plus-size models for its annual fashion show.

The backlash spurred the company to rebrand itself, ending its annual show and replacing its signature "Angels" with a diverse group of women as its new representatives, including the brand's first openly transgender model, Valentina Sampaio, and plus-sized model, Ali Tate-Cutler.

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The roots of 'Victoria's Secret'

Jax originally wrote “Victoria’s Secret” as way to share her personal experience with body image in the hopes of preventing the girl she babysits from going through the same thing.

“I honestly didn’t write this song to take down a brand or start a movement,” Jax told USA TODAY in a statement. “I’m just a songwriter that told my truth about how my horrible body image messed me up as a kid and I still deal with it today.”

TikTok users flooded Jax’s original video with comments praising the song, asking for a full version and thanking the songwriter for addressing the topic, including parents of young girls.

Jae Howard Price, a mother of triplets, was among the users who commented on Jax's video, thanking the singer and sharing that two of her 15-year-old daughters have been struggling with eating disorders due to the pressure of social media – a common experience for many.

"They both really loved the song," Price told USA TODAY. "They really are looking for others who understand what they are going through. It's hard (because) not many people (openly) talk about it."

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Social media's influence

When we create the image of ourselves that we want to share online, we're more likely to craft that persona to fit a certain standard, said Christine Whelan, a clinical professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 17: JAX visits SiriusXM at SiriusXM Studio on August 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775857488 ORIG FILE ID: 1415427513
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 17: JAX visits SiriusXM at SiriusXM Studio on August 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775857488 ORIG FILE ID: 1415427513

"Social media has definitely upped the ante ... to enhance ourselves to fit what we think is the cultural ideal," she said.

Victoria’s Secret was one of the companies that set the standard in both women's fashion and body image, establishing unrealistic and unattainable beauty ideas for adolescents and women all over the world, said Aparna Thomas, a professor of politics, gender, sexuality and women’s studies at Cornell College.

Thomas also credits some of the popularity of Jax’s song to the growing awareness of toxic beauty standards and societal pressure among younger generations who use social media to amplify their tastes until they're picked up by the mainstream.

Those factors combined to give Jax, who's been pursuing her break in the music industry for years, her first Billboard Hot 100 title. The songwriter signed with Atlantic Records in 2021 and began producing her own music, including "Like my Father," which hit No. 33 on the Adult Airplay chart earlier this year.

“The minute I started reading the lyrics it was very clear why it would strike a chord in so many young adults, young women in particular,” Thomas said.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Victoria's Secret song: Jax's lyrics deliver body-positive message