This week, we interviewed Victoria’s mother, Teresa. We discussed with her how body-image expectations have shifted over the years and how they’ve impacted her own life from youth to adulthood.
I understand you grew up in an Italian Catholic family in Queens. How did it affect your feelings about body image?
So when we were growing up, it was such a conservative, almost inhibited environment. You didn't talk about anything sexual. And I don't mean that in a negative way, but we didn't talk about anything that involved bodies. Everything was kind of hush-hush.
Plus, when we grew up, there was no discussion of premarital sex; if you weren’t doing anything, there was no reason to talk about it.
In terms of how we dressed, “leave more up to the imagination” was the quote in our household.
Since you were taught to hide more of your body growing up, did you feel any pressure to be thin or a certain body type?
Growing up, I was very athletic, so I was fortunate enough to not even think about it. Not so much today though. Now it’s a struggle every day.
When did you start thinking more about your body and size as an adult?
I would say a couple of years after my second child, I started to be more concerned about how I looked in a bathing suit and lingerie. That was also about the time I got divorced and, therefore, I guess that I wanted to feel more attractive for potentially dating.
After having kids, I’d also gone up in bra size and couldn’t fit into any of the bras at Victoria’s Secret. Instead, I had to go into the department stores and get “big-lady bras.” It was so discouraging and it just made me feel bad. I started to really work out more and watch what I was eating. I did triathlons and started swimming again.
Living near Manhattan during the height of the supermodel era, did you feel any pressure to be model-thin?
I would say I admired the women that were in Vogue and walking through Manhattan. However, it wasn't something that really mattered to me. I would rather feel and be healthier and fit.
What made you change your mindset?
As I got older and started putting things into perspective, I realized that it wasn’t real. I also realized what it takes to look like that and, after doing that for so many years, it’s not a lifestyle that I choose to have anymore. I want a full lifestyle that involves eating, drinking, and socializing. All of that is so much more important to me now instead of how I look.
How do you feel about today’s movement toward body positivity?
It feels polar opposite to me from where I came from. When I see women of today feeling so natural and comfortable with their bodies, it’s so different and it took me a while to understand. Sometimes, because of how I was brought up, I think it’s a little extreme, but for the most part, I think it’s a better approach.
How did you feel when your daughter wanted to start a lingerie brand?
She was really timid growing up and gradually that changed. So, when she started the lingerie business, initially, I was like, wow, this is great! The ideas were perfect. Everything was perfect. It was exciting. Traveling to California to look for a factory and all of that. However, when it came to marketing and advertising, I was taken aback. It was so different from the traditional advertising of women that I was used to and it was a huge shock factor for me. But, it was then that I really understood her mission and how things were changing for today’s world. I began to understand things further.
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