In 1977, the first Victoria’s Secret store opened in Palo Alto, CA. Ever since Victoria’s Secret has been defining societal beauty standards. For decades, women have witnessed ads and fashion shows that display a “fantasy” for what beautiful women should look like. Recently, a New York Times report came out, exposing two of the most powerful men behind the Victoria’s Secret operation: Ed Razek, who was the president and chief marketing officer, and Leslie Wexner, who is the founder and chief executive at Limited Brands, a parent company of Victoria’s Secret. After over 30 interviews with models, employees and executives, it is apparent that these two men created a culture within the Victora’s Secret corporation that fosters sexual harassment and misogyny.
Ed Razek was almost entirely in charge of picking the Angels who would model in the famous VS Fashion shows. However, the report shows that in the past Razek has tried to kiss the models, asked them to sit on his lap, and have touched some of these women inappropriately. One of the biggest things that the NY Times article focused on was what happened when these women reported the incidents. Casey Crowe Taylor, a former public relations employee from Victoria’s Secret stated that, “This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing. And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn’t just ignored. They were punished.” After reporting advances that Mr. Razek was making on her, model Andi Musie, said that Victoria’s Secret stopped hiring her for its fashion shows.
These reports of sexual harassment aren’t the only reason that the Victoria’s Secret Corporation has been in the media lately. For years, the corporation has been promoting only one type of beauty, while exluding plus size and transgender models. Slowly but surely, society’s norms for beauty have been changing to include a wider variety of women of all shapes, sizes, races and genders. However, Victoria’s Secret doesn’t seem to be getting the memo. Razek even went as far as to say, “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special.” Razek along with the rest of the Victoria’s Secret corporation has been presenting society with a false image of what makes women beautiful through their ads and fashion shows and for the first time in two decades, the fashion show has been cancelled this year.
This new NY Times report along with their unrealistic portrayal of feminine beauty has placed the Victoria’s Secret corporation and executives Leslie Wexner and Ed Razek in the firing line of the media. As times change, and social norms of beauty evolve, it seems like the time has come for Victoria’s Secret to change with them and create a safe and inclusive corporation that celebrates and respects women and their bodies regardless of their size, shape, color or imperfections.