As glamorous as it is to be a beauty editor, I already know that my life is nothing like a Victoria's Secret model's—I work in an office, I don't have to be super-fit for work, and I'm not jet-setting to get my picture taken in bikinis for a major brand. But now in my10th year covering the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, I got to thinking: What would it really be like to live like an Angel?
From following the VS models on social media, it's clear that leading up to the show, they train like athletes for a big game. They have to eat better, ramp up their workouts to two-a-days, cut out all alcohol, give their skin a little extra TLC, and sit in a hair and makeup chair for longer than they'd probably like. If I was going to live like a Victoria's Secret model, I was going to have to really work at it.
I chose to model my life as an Angel after Lily Aldridge's — she's one of my favorites to follow on Instagram and is the closest to me height-wise. I didn't get my wings or wear the $2 million Fantasy Bra (I wish!), but I did work out with her trainer, ate the meals she ate, got the same spray tan and facial as her, and was made up by some of the top beauty experts who were backstage at the show. Here's what happened during my week as Lily Aldridge.
I kicked off my week as a wannabe Angel on a Friday, doing twice-daily workouts of Ballet Beautiful, an intense ballet-inspired program created by Mary Helen Bowers, the former ballerina who trained Natalie Portman for Black Swan. Ballet Beautiful is a mix of classical ballet and targeted exercises and stretches that sculpt your body. It might sound like a relaxing exercise experience, but I can assure you it's quite hard. Even before doing zillions of reps to work my thighs, butt, and arms for an hour, I had to climb five flights of stairs to get to Mary Helen's studio.
Since I'm not an actual Victoria's Secret model and have a day job, I only went to Ballet Beautiful five days a week for the evening group class, and then I worked out another 45 minutes during each day at Cosmopolitan.com (or in my apartment in the morning) using the online custom workout I accessed at BalletBeautiful.com, which costs $40 a month.
Leotards and leg warmers, BALLET BEAUTIFUL
When I trained with her in person, Mary Helen worked with me for an hour and 45 minutes. I about died. Turns out you can't slack off when you're in front of the master. My butt muscles were sore, I could feel my abs every time I had to cough (I was fighting a cold), and my arms felt like limp, heavy noodles. That's when you know you're getting a real workout.
Diet & Lifestyle
While I was attempting to whip myself into shape, I was also mimicking (to the best of my ability) Lily's diet. She told me in an interview that she cooks for herself a lot. She eats eggs, avocado, and bacon for breakfast, healthy salads for lunch, and roast chicken and grilled vegetables for dinner. I also dug around on her Instagram for more diet details: She orders from Sakara Life, an organic, plant-based, gluten-free food delivery service; downs green juice and coconut water from Pressed Juicery; and drinks lemon water. She was having a pizza party after the show taping, so that was going to be part of my meal plan too.
Sakara Life was nice enough to hook me up with three days of meals, which included breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a Beauty Water that smelled and tasted like roses, a Night Water that was dark green and somehow tasted like water (mind-blowing), as well as Detox Tea. The meals were tasty AF, and I was sad when they ended. However, the meal plans run about $99 a day (they have packaged deals that make the price cheaper), so I'd actually have to be a supermodel in order to afford them.
For the rest of the week, because I don't cook a lot, I ordered eggs from the office cafeteria for breakfast, got a kale salad with protein from Fresh & Co. for lunch, and ordered takeout (i.e. grilled chicken and vegetables) from super-healthy places like Lyfe Kitchen for dinner. My cousin also made me a few healthy dinners at her apartment, which was nice (thanks, Char!).
I was also drinking a ton of water. I'd try to drink a liter or more or water a day (I felt like I was about drowning myself) — and a coconut water (another one of Lily'sfaves from Pressed Juicery) if I wanted something tasty (theirs has a sweet taste, which I loved).
As far as drinking any alcohol that week, I didn't. I'm not a big drinker as it is; I'll have a glass a wine with dinner or a gin and tonic when I go out, but I cut that out the week I lived like Lily. If I did go out with friends, I'd order soda water with lime so people didn't ask why I wasn't drinking.
The Day of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Taping
The fashion show taping happened during my week living like Lily. I went backstage during hair and makeup as part of my day job — not as a runway model, sadly.
I went back to Cosmo and worked out in the lobby (as you do), and then went home and got ready for the live taping of the show that night.
After the show was the after-party (naturally), but I didn't stay out late because I had a holiday hair shoot for work the next day with one of Lily's hairstylists, Harry Josh.
I did another in-office workout in the afternoon. At this point, my coworkers were used to seeing me work out in the lobby by myself.
Later that day, I had my second private session with Mary Helen Bowers. I promise you, the second time around wasn't any easier than the first.
Thursday was prep day for my big runway moment Friday, which was like the other days, but with a facial and spray tan tacked on.
Mzia Shiman is the aesthetician responsible for giving ALL 47 OF THE MODELS their facials. She did each one of the treatments by herself over the course of three days and I deem her a rock star because of it.
After I hopped up on the facial table with a terry cloth robe wrapped around me, Mzia cleansed and hydrated my face. Then, with this little airbrush-looking gun, she started infusing pure oxygen straight into my skin. The oxygen creates a plumping effect, so I asked her to make my lips appear fuller, to plump my cheekbones more, and lift my brows.
My skin felt like a newborn baby's; my lips were plump, my cheekbones were even higher, and my eyes were wide open.
Now, onto my spray tan. Kristyn Pradas, the woman who gives all of the models their gorgeous glow, arrived shortly after I got back to the office.
I've met Kristyn before, so standing nearly naked in front of her wasn't going to be as awkward as the first time I met her. I tucked my platinum hair into a shower cap, stepped on these feet-shaped stickers so the bottoms of my feet didn't turn orange, and Krystin got to work.
In order to get a good, creaseless tan, you have to hold certain positions for a while so the formula dries properly and you're not left with an uneven mess. By the time she was done, my arms felt like they weighed a million pounds. But they looked toned, as did my abs and thighs. P.S. If you're ever in New York or live here and need a good spray tan, she makes house calls for $150. Tell her I sent you!
Post-spray tan, there wasn't really much that I could do because I looked like a bronze statue and smelled like spray tan, so I went to my cousin's for dinner, went to VS to get my outfit for Friday's shoot, then went home and passed out.
The Day of My Victoria's Secret Shoot
The shoot started at 10:30 a.m. Sarah Potempa, the lead hairstylist at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and makeup artist Gina Daddona, who worked alongside lead makeup artist Dick Page, both arrived with kits that contained everything they needed to transform me into a VS Angel. Sarah clipped in a few 20-inch strands of platinum blonde human hair wefts from Laced Extensions. "We added extensions to the girls' hair mainly for fullness rather than length," she told me. Before I knew it, I had the thickest hair I've ever had. First step to looking like a bombshell: big hair.
Backstage at the show, makeup artist Dick Page told me that the makeup this year was fresh and natural with a pop of color on the cheeks. Gina applied a bright red cheek color from Kryolan on my cheeks, then applied foundation, applied a sable-colored shadow on my lids for a bit of color, popped on some lashes, subtly lined my eyes, and swiped on mascara and a nude lip.
At this point, I was one green juice in, and had been in the hair and makeup chair for about three hours. Looking like a Victoria's Secret model doesn't just happen. Sure, these girls are genetically blessed and stunning, but it doesn't matter who you are, hair and makeup takes a W H I L E.
Finally it was time to get dressed. It was time to put it all together and really transform.
Sarah unclipped my hair from the pin curls and I WAS READY. I remember looking in the mirror and saying, "Holy shit, I actually kind of look believable!"
My hair and makeup have literally never looked more beautiful, and even though I felt sort of self-conscious in my outfit, which left my butt cheeks totally exposed, I felt liked I looked so good that it didn't matter. This is what the Angels must feel like, I thought.
Then it was time for my
runway hallway walk. I was most excited for this. I've practiced a runway walk before (you're lying if you say you haven't), so I felt confident in mine — plus, Karlie Kloss personally taught a few editors at Cosmo once how to walk like a VS model, so I learned from a legit Angel.
Bra, VICTORIA'S SECRET, $258; Panty, VICTORIA'S SECRET, $128; Jacket, NASTY GAL, $258; Necklace, Leopard Lace Up Thigh High Boots Faux Suede, A.M.I. CLUBWEAR, $23; DANNIJO, $145; Rings, AWOKE VINTAGE and ELECTRIC PICKS
Doing this project was so much fun and I learned a lot about what it takes to be a Victoria's Secret Angel. It's hard work trying to be in your best shape and look your most beautiful, even if you're as genetically blessed as these models are.
But the thing that stayed with me the most after this experience was the fact that I had been making excuses for why I couldn't work out. I would tell myself that I was busy and didn't have time, but over the course of this week, I made time. I pushed myself to work out twice a day, which meant that I could do it at least once a day in real life if I really wanted to. And I do want to. I saw such a change in my body — my arms, thighs, and stomach looked more toned after just a week, and my butt was more lifted.
I also loved the way I felt, eating so healthy. I don't eat too unhealthy usually, but I could just see how watching what you put into your body can really make a difference. Modeling might seem superficial, and my goal was to look good on the runway, but what I ultimately found was that I was taking care of my body and my health — and that made me feel better than the glam and the flashing lights.
But! Immediately after my runway walk was over, you best believe I had a slice of pizza (and a glass of Champagne).
All workout gear was supplied by Victoria's Secret and Ballet Beautiful.
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