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Victoria’s Secret First Model with Down Syndrome: What This Means For The Future of Inclusion

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Coastal Carolina chapter.

TW: eating disorders, body-image issues

Victoria’s Secret is no stranger to controversy. Their stereotypical lookalike models have enraged the public for many reasons. In years past, there has been little to no diversity in their models. They were all typically white, super slim, fit, etcetera. While many women can be naturally built like this, many of the models said otherwise. Former Victoria’s Secret angel, Adriana Lima, said that she would go on a liquid diet nine days prior to the show, consuming only protein shakes. Even worse, she cuts out ALL liquids (including water) 12 hours before the big show. 

While this diet sounds inhumane and terrible, it is not Lima’s fault. These past models don’t just “work hard”, they starve themselves and push their bodies to limits they are simply not able to go. Although, it is not Lima’s fault. Many of these models feel pressure coming on from their agencies and higher-ups at Victoria’s Secret. In contrast, all of this changed in 2019. In this year, Victoria’s Secret welcomed their first plus-size model, Ali Tate-Cutler. While most people would not consider her to actually be plus-sized, it was still a move in the right direction for the company.

Despite the first plus size model of Victoria’s Secret being a good thing, it was still not enough for the public. Other lingerie/underwear companies included much more diversity than Victoria’s Secret had ever introduced. Companies like Arie featured disabled models, models with certain health conditions, and more models of different sizes. While Victoria’s Secret was beginning to include different body types, they never included any other type of diversity…until now.

On February 14th, 2022, model Sofía Jirau, took to Instagram to announce her collaboration with the lingerie company saying, “One day I dreamed it, I worked on it and today it is a dream come true. I can finally tell you my big secret… I am the first Victoria’s Secret model with Down syndrome,” (translated from Spanish). She continued the post talking about how there are “no limits”; her beautiful statement was accommodated by a photo of the stunning model in the brand’s new Love Cloud Collection. 

In past years, little girls with down syndrome could never even picture themself in a position like Jirau, which is so upsetting. Why was this ever so? Why can’t little girl’s be models just like the other girls? Well, now they can. Because of this representation, little girl’s can now picture themselves doing anything and everything they can dream of. Something that they could not control no longer holds them back. It is an exciting time to live in now; as time goes on there truly seems to be “no limits” to women’s dreams.

Caroline Surface

Coastal Carolina '25

Caroline is a junior Interactive Journalism Communication major at Coastal Carolina University. She is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and has two cats and one dog. She was on the yearbook team all throughout high school, which is where she found her passion of telling stories through writing.