Bella Hadid Opened Up About The Impact The Victoria's Secret Shows Had On Her Body Image And Why It Took Her Over A Year To Accept A Meeting With Them Again

·3 min read

Warning: This post contains a brief mention of eating disorders.

Bella Hadid is opening up about her time with Victoria's Secret.

Bella on a red carpet in a see-through mesh off-the-shoulder dress
Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images for MTV

For context, Bella walked in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show from 2016 to 2018. Bella was named as one of the models who experienced inappropriate comments from Ed Razek, the former president and chief marketing officer of Victoria's Secret's parent company: L Brands. Razek was further accused of sexual harassment and bullying by numerous models and employees of VS.

Bella walking in the Victoria Secret Fashion show and bra and panty set with multicolored feathered wings

Razek has denied the allegations, but it's worth noting that these weren't the only problems Victoria's Secret faced: There was the lack of diversity — especially of plus sizes and trans models — and the reported ties between Jeffrey Epstein and L Brands founder, Leslie Wexner.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Bella herself has been somewhat critical of her time with VS in the past. Referring to her work with Savage X Fenty, she said, "For me, that was the first time on a runway that I felt really sexy. Because when I first did Fenty, I was doing other lingerie shows and I never felt powerful on a runway, like, in my underwear" — and this was after she'd already modeled three times in the Victoria's Secret show.

Bella poses at the end of the runway for Victoria's Secret
Noam Galai / Getty Images

When Bella was asked by Marie Claire about whether she had to unlearn "the toxic views about femininity or sexiness that the shows instilled," she replied, "Absolutely. I look at my body now as a temple. Before, it kind of got to the point where my body wasn't owned by me."

  Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for Victoria's Secret
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

"My life for so many years revolved around only working and...how I was going to lose that weight for one of those shows. Now, I just am who I am. And I don't need to change for anybody else — even when I see things online about people talking about my body or the way it fluctuates or this or that," she continued, attributing the change in her self-image to therapy, "self realizations," and "not putting my worth in anyone else's hand except for my own."

Bella wearing lace bras and panties and a short satin jacket on the Victoria's Secret runway

It's worth noting that Bella hasn't always been so candid about her weight in relation to the Victoria's Secret shows — she previously said that her weight loss before her VS debut was "accidental" and that she'd work out for three hours every day. In general, there are numerous stories of Victoria's Secret Angels starving themselves before shows and having eating disorders.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Despite all this, Bella will be rejoining Victoria's Secret as part of their new "Collective" — citing an increase in female board members and the creation of contracts with clauses that say, in the words of Bella, "We don't have to do anything, basically, that we don't want to do."

  Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

That being said, she was hesitant about even having a meeting with them, saying, "It took me almost a year and a half to take the meeting with them. Even having that conversation was very complicated for me because of the way that I had felt in the past."

<div><p>"I feel empowered in lingerie, instead of feeling like my body is some sort of money maker."</p></div><span> Valery Hache / AFP via Getty Images</span>

"I feel empowered in lingerie, instead of feeling like my body is some sort of money maker."

Valery Hache / AFP via Getty Images

However, Bella is aware that the changes won't be enough for many people to go back to the brand: "I think people are going to have things to say regardless. But I know firsthand how Victoria's Secret used to make me feel, and now, going onto set every day, there is just an energy that's switched."

Bella on the red carpet at Cannes
Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

You can read the full interview here.

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