The Sonia Show

Writer. Podcaster. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.

You don’t want to know Victoria’s Secret


Yeah, so, I was putting a bag away in my closet when a Victoria’s Secret gift card fell out.

I have no idea where it came from. I don’t remember getting a Victoria’s Secret gift card. I used to shop there all the time. It was my go-to place for bras. However, the last time I went in there, all the bras were bedazzled with the word “sexy” on them in faux-diamonds. “Hey, this bra is sexy, even a blind man can tell you that.” I wish I was joking.

Still, I went online to see how much was on the gift card. While I was trolling the site I stumbled upon the FAQ page. In the middle of “What’s your return policy?” and “How can I check the status of my order?” I uncovered a few interesting nuggets.

How can I become a Victoria’s Secret model?

Stay in school and just say no to drugs? Just kidding. Try heroin and/or an eating disorder. I think it’s adorable that this is a frequently asked question. “Hmmm, I want to be a Victoria’s Secret model. I will go to their website and apply.” How cute!

The “real” answer is: “We select models from both the Ford and Elite Modeling agencies in New York City. Unfortunately, we do not have information to release regarding specific criteria they must meet. We suggest that you contact a modeling agency if you want to pursue a modeling career.

But that naive question didn’t prepare me for what I saw next …

Do Victoria’s Secret bras really contain formaldehyde?

Wait, what?!?

As millions of women know, Victoria’s Secret bras are safe. You may have seen media reports or online postings that claim Victoria’s Secret bras contain formaldehyde. Because of our commitment to our customers’ safety and satisfaction, we want you to have the facts. We hope that with the complete truth, we continue to earn your confidence in our products every day. Victoria’s Secret does not add formaldehyde to its bras, and multiple, independent tests confirm that Victoria’s Secret bras are formaldehyde-free or contain only traces which are significantly lower than allowed by the most stringent textile guidelines in the world. Dermatologists and various authorities all confirm that even those individuals who are allergic to formaldehyde would not have a reaction at this low level, despite public claims by a Cleveland law firm.

I’m sorry you lost me at formaldehyde.

Why would there be formaldehyde in the bras?

Is that Victoria’s Secret?

“Dead body by Victoria: The formaldehyde makes the bras extra sexy.”

By the way, there was only $1.70 on the gift card. I think I will pass on a bra that smells like death.


Author: The Sonia Show

I'm a writer/podcaster/mother/goober in San Francisco who likes to drink beer, shop, laugh and make other people laugh, watch old movies, feed my unhealthy obsession with pop culture, kick breast cancer's ass, go on adventures with my mighty, mighty good man David and my awesome autistic son, Calvin, wear orange and root for the San Francisco Giants, participate in general jackass-ery, talk about TV, eavesdrop on strangers' conversations, make nerdy “Star Wars” and “Simpsons” references, and post personal things about myself on the web for all to read, which makes me some sort of literary exhibitionist.

38 thoughts on “You don’t want to know Victoria’s Secret

  1. I stopped purchasing bras there long ago. It seems they want women without boobs to look as though they have ginormous ta-taas (P.S. Guys HATE this). Those of us with actual boobs, however, can’t fit into any of their bras anyway. I’m OK with this. Men talk to my chest all the time so I don’t need a bedazzled brazier to tell me I’m sexy.

  2. Hmm, really.. I think I’ll need a Victoria Secret’s bra then, if it makes women without boobs look as if they have “ginormous ta-taas”. No matter what the guys think, lol. But wait? Maybe I’m lucky that men never talk to my chest, sigh?

    Seriously, I don’t get why there’s formaldehyde in the bras at all.. Though it doe not surprise me. A test showed that some very common jeans-brands in Sweden have high levels of some kind of non-spellable toxic. And then I mean very high levels, up to 10 times more than the recommended level.

    • i love how you say “recommended level”, as if they recommend a specific level of toxins in jeans 🙂 i know what you mean, but i thought it was cute 🙂

      • Yeah, I know. I lacked a word or two there and realized myself it would sound funny but what the heck… 😛 My English isn’t the best and they did indeed say something about “recommended” levels, lol 😉 😛

  3. VS is what Frederick’s of Hollywood used to be. I’m now in love with – they have all combinations of sizes minus the trashy vibe.

    If you’re really concerned with formaldehyde, you should check out Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. They show either formaldehyde or formalin (formaldehyde solution) being in over 30 skin care products, mostly nail treatments but also hair gel and eyelash glue.

    Know what’s in the products you use!

    • Whoa! I just checked out that website. Apparently lice removal systems are less toxic than baby shampoo! How messed up is that????

  4. Their beauty products/ fragrances aren’t bad but the lingerie is usually low quality. I mean, if i paid 12$ for the bra, I wouldn’t be surprised, but their crap is expeeeeeensive. It frays, the underwires pop out… not good. And that formaldehyde thing… weiiiird.

  5. Creepy! ………and funny. Thanks for posting!

  6. Wait… what? I love that store lol

  7. Formaldehyde is often used to treat fabrics as a flame retardant. and, ironically, to keep clothes ‘wrinkle free’. You’d be surprised at where you can find formaldehyde – mattresses, tvs, computers, wrapping paper. It used to be prevalent in children’s clothes and may still be in some – watch for ‘flame retardant’ and ‘wrinkle free’ labels, and that usually means that there’s formaldehyde. Check out the book “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” to learn more about the weird toxins in everyday items – it’s an enlightening read!

  8. I love how people get all worked up when they hear the word formaldehyde when they have no idea what the implications are. It’s also in vegetables. Not the chemicals used to wash or fertilize the vegetables, the vegetables themselves. It’s a naturally-ocurring substance.

    • whoaa…nope, it’s present as a result of human interference–atmospheric reactivity with smog, for instance. it’s also incredibly toxic.

    • Different type of formaldehyde, dude. And different quantities, too. Just like there are different types and quantities of iron in pills and cholesterol going thru our bodies.

      But it might be time to get ms little ta-tas to start getting her padded bras elsewhere.

  9. I laughed out loud to this. I like Victoria’s secret, but still. The picture you posted, with the caption “Dead body by Victoria” ? Hilarious.
    Good post.

  10. Wow. That is just one of those articles that you just give the *blank stare* at and then realize, well…guess we’ll die of something! No wonder we have a zillion cases of cancer today! Good article, I look forward to hearing more responses on this one!

  11. I’ve been saying forever that the only people who can fit into a Vicky’s Secret bra or panties are fourth grade girls——and they shouldn’t be shopping there. It’s a good thing I hate wearing a bra……..

  12. I used to love shopping at Victoria’s Secret. I’m not a busty lady, and I loved their push-up bras.

    But then their bras got: 1) ridiculously expensive; 2) bedazzled.

    Also, every bra has underwire. As a breast cancer survivor who has had a few surgeries, I don’t think I’ll be returning to underwire ever again.

  13. Now I know which bra to chose for the afterlife (which even as a man is a tough issue). Thanks for the entertaining post!

  14. I have to agree, completely entertaining post + comments, had a few chuckles.

  15. Formaldehyde!!! Not just for creating decaffeinated coffee anymore!!!!!

  16. This is hysterical. And creepy. Any bra recalls planned? A whole new reason for bra burning for those of us who remember the day (or read about it).

    Any other chemically-dipped DD’s we should know about?

  17. There was a scandal about formaldehyde in clothes here in NZ. A TV program “discovered” that it was about 500 times higher than permitted in our version of Wal-Mart (The Warehouse).

    Unfortunately, they used the “free” standard (i.e. what comes out when you wash) to measure “bound” (i.e. the amount that’s never going to detach) so the whole thing was bogus.

    As mentioned above, it’s pretty common in new clothes, and (apparently) perfectly safe.

  18. I laughed and was slightly grossed out at the same time. Good post!

  19. So I actually work at Victoria’s Secret, and you should probably get some facts straight before you start bashing the store/brand. I think I have seen one bedazzled bra; it does not say sexy. Actually, it just has a pattern and is purple, no words, sorry. So if you went online and saw these bras, I have no idea where you found them since we do not make any bra that has “sexy” bedazzled across the front.

    We also carry bras with no wires in three of our many different types of bras, including a push up without wires (dream angel wireless push-up). The other two are the body by victoria wireless and the vs cotton wireless. We also have a PINK brand wireless bra. I will admit that yes we do carry lingerie items, but more than half of the store is devoted to everyday bras and comfortable sleepwear and PINK, a casual line created for college/high school aged customers consisting mostly of sweat pants and other loungewear along with a wide variety of patterned, bright undies.

    Our body by victoria line is a line of bras made especially for everyday wear and comes in a demi, full coverage, unlined, and wireless syle. It is made with a very thin cotton memory foam and comes in simple colors (black, white, nude, the occasional flowered or polka dot pattern). We also have the cotton bras and biofit bras and dream angels bras that are designed for comfort and everyday wear. We cater to fit every woman’s need in under garments. So yes, we do carry lingerie and items a woman would want to wear to look sexy because there is a demand for those items. Many women like lingerie, it isn’t for you to decide what other women want to wear, if you do not want to buy it, then don’t, but obviously we are going to sell it for those women who do want to purchase it.

    However we are devoted to fitting every woman’s need and making her feel comfortable in our store. We go up to size 40DD in store and much higher online and our cotton panties come in thong, v-string, bikini, brief, high-leg brief, hiphugger, and many other styles that suit every woman looking for everyday underwear. The underwear run in sizes from xs-xl (xs being size 0-2 in jeans and xl being 12-14 in jeans). So to say that our products only fit 4th graders is a bit of a stretch.

    We pride ourselves on fitting every woman with the perfect bra for them and making every woman feel comfortable with their body.

    I would say that you need to overlook the common misconception that Victoria’s Secret is trashy lingerie and if you actually went in I think you would see that we carry many different selections for every person out there. I could go on forever correcting everyone’s stereotypes of the store, but I will leave it at that. Just get your facts straight before you post these kind of things.

  20. Joelle, if you bothered to read the entire post, you would see that I said I USED to shop their all the time, as in years ago. And I’m sorry, but almost all the bras were bedazzled, and almost all the bras had underwires.

    Also, when I did go to Victoria’s Secret, I went with my sister, who is a double-D and they NEVER had her size.

    As for the facts, I was just pointing out something was is on YOUR COMPANY’s FAQ page.

    I don’t have a problem with Victoria’s Secret. I love your scented lotions. My mother buys them for me every year for Christmas. I also use the bra inserts to keep my rack even while I’m transitioning after my mastectomy. And I’m sure the loungewear is comfy and cute.

    I understand why you are defending your employer. I would do the same. However, I am not portraying Victoria’s Secret as trashy lingerie. Some of my commenters may be, but I am not. I suggest you get your facts straight before commenting.

    • I happen to know that Victoria’s Secret bedazzles words onto their products, because I have a pair of undies from there that say “Flirt” across the front with rhinestones. Oh, too much information? Yeah, sorry about that.

      I’ve also been to VS with a well-endowed friend, and the salesclerk make her feel like a circus freak when she asked where she could find items in her size. She went outside and cried.

      P.S. Lighten up, Joelle!

      • Kate, i was referring to the bras being bedazzled, as I believe Sonia was in her original post. We do have some panties with words on them. I believe there are some that say “love” for valentines day, however the majority of our panties are definitely not. Also, I cannot defend every sales clerk that works at every Victoria’s Secret. I’m sorry that happened to your friend, I can tell you it would never happen to her at the store I work in and the sales clerk that treated her that way was not following company procedures or guidelines at all.

        Sonia, I realize how trivial some of the FAQ questions seem, I actually hadn’t read the ones on the website until I read this post. I agree with the fact that the model question seems a bit strange. And yes, I felt the need to defend the company, mostly to the comments following your post, but also to just inform you that we now do carry many bras without underwire and we do not bedazzle many bras at all. I’m not sure when it was when you went in last, but I have worked there only a few years, so possibly I do not know about former bedazzled bras. The same goes for the DD size. I know that we definitely carry it now and have for a while, but we may not have when you went in last depending on when that was. I did not mean to start a huge argument, or to insult, just to defend and give my information because I know I would find the information helpful if I were you.

        • I found this page by some people on FB talking about formaldehyde in most bras, the VS picture was posted from Sonia’s page by a friend. Joelle, you may be great candidate for uncovering the truth about how many are getting sick from all these chemicals instead of getting off subject on the little points (trashy, rhinestones, and poor quality). I always went for the VS cotton bras, but the straps loosen up, after time underwire starts sticking out and the rubber letters on the sides irritate. There are chemicals in the padding. I got ill from chemicals as well as some friends, all wore this brand. It is not the only brand with chemicals, most have them. When you look at everything combined, household detergents, floor cleaners and shampoos & beauty products, these chemicals accumulate in the body so do we need to be aware. I went organic on shampoo (Dermorganic is great) and in foods for my Nutribullet. Now friends are searching for bras and clothing without all these chemicals but have not suggested one brand as of yet on FB. Any suggestions, please reply. A friend had some luck with bamboo fabric bras but someone else said there are also chems in the dyes~ PS… I am returning the $49 bra from VS that is loaded with chemical and makes you sweat, bad combination. Also, the panties used to be better quality, the cotton ones with the doggy, now they are thinner and flimsy and cut in. Made in America, hemp, 100% cotton, anyone know of this rare combo?

  21. I was in there a few years ago when I saw the bedazzled bras. I stand by my original statement. I know what I saw.

    Thank you for reading and for commenting. Good luck to you!

  22. Hey Pammy Girl, guess what! Just because us girls with perky boobs (yes we do have “actual boobs”) like to celebrate our boobs doesn’t mean that we want to have “gi-nourmous tatas.” Sometimes we just want a little extra lift to complement the cute clothes we also tend to fit easily into. I’m sure you don’t put down women who wear spanx, now do you? What right do they have to use Spanx? They must need to be validated by hiding a little cellulite. At the end of the day, it’s all shapewear. I’ve gotten plenty of compliments on the stunning symmetry of my breasts (which are medium), and certainly never had complaints about my bras. But I also don’t get their “extreme” bras, to be fair. NO ONE has a perfect body, not even the models. I’m not being told I’m sexy by the bra. I’m celebrating my femininity and perfecting my grooming and style.

    So I suggest you get over your hangup about “not being able to fit into” certain bras and stop taking it out on those of us with smaller and medium sizes that are easy to fit. I am sorry that your breasts do not fit into most bras but there is nothing wrong with being larger than average (or smaller than average). So don’t hate. It’s not a contest. There are advantages to all body types. Men stare at your chest and you don’t need embellished bras? Good for you. Men stare at my ass constantly and I don’t need butt-boosting underwear. But who are you to judge someone who does?

  23. I knew their bras smelled funny!

  24. I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your content.
    The article has really peaked my interest.
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  25. Just googled “chemical odour from bras” and came across this conversation. I bought 6 bras recently, washed them and our whole apartment smelled like something toxic. Washed them again: no improvement. Kept them outside overnight: still smell. This is no laughing matter. It is nuts that a manufacturer would allow women to put whatever it is (formaldehyde?!) on their breasts!

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