How To Be A Victoria's Secret AngelS

Not that you can be one. You can't. In the words of one writer, "There is no democracy in angel land."

Every year, VS casts 30 models to walk in the bizarre, kitschy fantasia that is their annual "fashion show." But, says one agent to the New York Times, 10 times that many are sent to us by the agencies to be considered." These hopesfuls parade before a panel of judges in "a generic audition outfit consisting of a satin finish bra, a pair of lace bikini panties and champagne-colored platform heels."

Says the Limited brand's chief marketing officer (they also own VS), "What people don't realize is that they're rarer by far than superstar athletes...The numbers of people who can do this are probably under 100 in the world."

What exactly they're "doing" is having certain proportions and fitting a highly-specific ideal. And, of course, being — or at least, looking — fit enough to heft giant wings or shlep a diamond-encrusted push-up. In a sense, the athlete comment is less ludicrous (okay, marginally) than it first appears: there's training involved here.

Angela Lindvall, another occasional angel, at a certain point compared her particular line of work with that of a boxer. "You have to make weight," she said. Ms. Lindvall herself once shed 20 postpregnancy pounds to make angel weight by jumping rope and subsisting on nothing but spinach, chard and kale. The fitness horizon for a model preparing to audition for the Victoria's Secret fashion show is perhaps 12 weeks, said Justin Gelband, a personal fitness trainer known in the business as the Model Whisperer. "We've been killing ourselves for this show," Mr. Gelband explained before the casting call, referring to clients like Ms. Linchuk and Ms. Shayk and Anne Vialitsina, a model whose career has risen and fallen over tiny weight gains but whose physique that day was so starkly fit that it elicited a collective gasp.

Years ago, a ladymag (I'm thinking Allure) ran a piece on some angel bootcamp the models attend: it involved taking a "fat-burning pill" and a multi-mile run before breakfast. Plus any number of squats and lunges. As the Times points out, the effort is somewhat ironic when one considers that the whole Victoria's Secret m.o. is to make the customer think she, too, can be angelically perfect with the purchase of a miraculous bra. But it works: profits are up and models "dream" of making the final cut — even if, apparently, sometimes the weight of the wings literally brings them to tears.

Angels In Stripper Heels [NY Times]