“Mom, you would like this,” my youngest daughter says as she shows me a viral TikTok video playing on her phone. I’m so captivated by the video, I watch it three more times. It’s sweet, it’s brilliant, and I can’t get enough. I am a 51-year-old mom of three and I’m legit obsessed.
In the video, a 26-year-old American singer-songwriter, known professionally as Jax (real name: Jackie Miskanic), is with Chelsea, the teen girl she babysits. We learn that Chelsea went to Victoria’s Secret with some friends yesterday to shop for a bikini, but when Jax picked her up from the mall, Chelsea was crying because she was body-shamed by a friend.
Because of what happened, and because of her own struggles with body image and eating issues, Jax wrote Chelsea a song. The song is called “Victoria’s Secret”, and it contains lyrics like these:
“I know Victoria’s secret, and girl, you wouldn’t believe / She’s an old man who lives in Ohio, making money off of girls like me.”
The song has become a body-positivity anthem, and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.
The rise in teen eating disorders is a mental health crisis.
Mental health challenges, eating disorders, and suicide rates had already been climbing at alarming rates before Covid. The pandemic made those rates worse. So much so, that the U.S. Surgeon General issued a rare public advisory in December 2021 urging for “a swift and coordinated response” to address the youth mental health crisis.
What might explain or at least contribute to the alarming rates is that teens have spent unprecedented amounts of time on social media during the pandemic, increasing opportunities for body comparison and believing their own bodies are less-than-desirable. Forming a negative body image can harm a teen’s self-esteem and, in more extreme cases, even damage their mental and physical health.
Teens are engaging in dangerous and potentially life-threatening behaviors, including restrictive eating, excessive exercise, and/or binging and purging, and we’ve seen numbers double for both children and adults entering inpatient treatment for eating disorders since before the pandemic.
Professionally, I support many parents whose children battle eating disorders and the pressure they feel to have the “ideal” body across the gender spectrum. I also understand personally, as I know all too well the hell of having a child with a life-threatening eating disorder and how it can affect the whole family.
Why is the “Victoria’s Secret” song by Jax so popular?
The heartwarming, heartbreaking, and inspiring comments people write on Jax’s various social media platforms might explain why her song has earned a place on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Teens, tweens, young adults, and middle-aged mothers voice struggles, pain, and experiences with body image and mental health. They write thank you’s and appreciation for Jax’s vulnerability and honesty. They burst with hope and liberation. They make it incredibly clear that one song can make a difference in so many lives. This proves that the benefits of music reach far and wide.
Women share story after story about how the song makes them feel freer, valued, and released from shame and judgment. One reports, “It’s extraordinary how much [this song] helps me. I’ve been struggling with body image for just over two years… Thank you so much. Ik [I know] it sounds fake but this song actually changed my life!”
Another woman shares, “This song changed my entire perspective on my body. I haven’t worn a bathing suit and gone swimming in over 2 years because I gained weight and felt I didn’t deserve to wear one. Today was the most beautiful day and I bought a new bathing suit and spent the afternoon swimming. It was amazing. Thank you x a million.”
It’s not only female fans voicing their appreciation. Jax garners gratitude across the gender spectrum. One comments, “As a guy who suffers from body dysmorphia, this is a whole anthem and I thank you.” Another says, “I’m a 16 year old guy and I honestly have some insecurities about my body but after hearing this… I listened to it on loop lol, [it] makes me feel a lot better about myself! Thank you Jax, you’re a role model for everyone.”
Some adults wish they had this song when they were younger, lamenting, “I needed this song SO HARD in middle school and High School,” and “Wish this song came out in my dark times.”
Younger fans, even as young as elementary school students, are grateful, too. Jax shares young fan videos on TikTok with words of encouragement: “Emily, you sing my song better than I do! I can’t wait to be front row at your concert one day.”
Body positivity and acceptance includes people of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and genders.
Jax’s flash mob video features people of various shapes, sizes, genders, and physical impairments — including a professional dancer in a wheelchair — performing her song outside of a Victoria’s Secret store, inspiring people with disabilities to post comments of appreciation, too. One woman writes, “As a 29 year old who is disabled & was never confident in her own skin, this song means everything!”
Jax’s official lyric video runs alongside an image of her as it’s being photoshopped. The video clearly demonstrates that today’s beauty standards feature manipulated bodies pushed to unrecognizable and unrealistic standards. By the end of the video, all the photoshopped edits are erased, and we’re shown an image that’s real.
Finally, even the songwriter has been supported emotionally by her own song, as evidenced by Jax’s tweet on September 5th, 2022: “I have not counted a single calorie since I released Victoria’s Secret and that’s something my therapist was never able to pull off. Thank you guys for giving me the healthiest 8 weeks I’ve had since I was 13.”
What You Can Do to Continue the Conversation
Amy Hauk, CEO of Victoria’s Secret and PINK, responded to Jax’s song by posting this message to the Victoria’s Secret Instagram account: “I can wholeheartedly say that we are all committed to building a community where everyone feels seen and respected. And if we mess up or can do better, we want to know. We truly value your voice and are working to find new ways to listen and bring you into the conversation.”
If you, your teen, or someone else in your family or support circle is struggling with body image and eating challenges, it’s time to bring them into the conversation, too. Put this song in your “tool kit” and use it on repeat when you or they need a boost in strength. Use the song like this fan does: “As someone who has been struggling with anorexia for a few years, this song is so important! Whenever I feel like I’m not fitting the ‘ideal’ I’m going to play this. I was 12 when I first got admitted into hospital for my ed. Thank you Jax, I love this song.”
Here are more ideas for using Jax’s song to spark conversation.
Use it as a launching pad to talk about your own experience with body image and/or disordered eating.
Share the videos with your family and friends.
Share it on social media.
Share it with your children and use it to open a conversation. Be curious about their experiences.
Share it with your school’s health teacher.
Buy the song, stream it, and request it on the radio to support the artist and push the song up the Billboard chart so more people know about it.
Share this article.
Jax has given us an anthem for body acceptance and empowerment to help slow and reverse this rising trend of ED hell. Join the movement. We need you to listen in, turn it up, and make change, for ourselves and our children, now.
About the Author
Vanessa Elias is a mental health activist, certified parent coach, speaker, and writer featured on NPR, PBS, and in the WSJ. She is the founder of Thrive with a Guide, LLC and serves as a group facilitator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Block Party USA is her passion project. Vanessa helps parents achieve healthier family relationships and lasting, meaningful connections.