Victoria’s Secret Runway Discrimination

On Nov 8, 2018, Vogue released an article that contained an interview with Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of the parent brand of Victoria’s Secret, and Monica Mitro, Victoria’s Secret’s executive vice president of public relations. In the interview, Mitro and Razek were asked a wide range of questions pertaining to past runway shows and upcoming ones, specifically how they have evolved over the years. 

Interviewer Nicole Phelps had the opportunity to sit down with these Victoria’s Secret experts who provided some shocking answers to questions pertaining to why they don’t use plus-size or trans women in their shows. The following is an excerpt from the Vogue article:

Phelps: There’s a young generation turned on by the multiple sizes of women in that show, and there are all sorts of different upstart brands that are putting trans women in their advertisements, women who are size 40 in their advertisements. Does VS feel the need to address the way the market is shifting in any way? 

Razek: I think we address the way the market is shifting on a constant basis. If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have. We invented the plus-size model show in what was our sister division, Lane Bryant. Lane Bryant still sells plus-size lingerie, but it sells a specific range, just like every specialty retailer in the world sells a range of clothing. As do we. We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world. We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t. 

Razek’s response as to why his famously influential brand doesn’t include plus-size models is apparently because the viewers aren’t interested. In 2000 they did a plus-size show, and numbers weren’t adequate enough to continue on. If we overlook the argument of how viewings and watch revenue shouldn’t determine whether certain populations get representation in the media, it still brings forth the fact that it was 18 years ago! Things like people’s views, interests, values, etc. change dramatically over the span of almost two decades. It is beyond insensitive to say “no one” is interested in watching gorgeous women of many diverse sizes be represented in a Victoria’s Secret runway show. 

Razek’s comment about the lack of transgender women in the shows is horrifying still:

Razek: 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. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader. 

Not only is Razek’s use of the term “transsexuals” outdated and inaccurate, but he is claiming that a trans woman isn’t part of the show’s “fantasy.” That is disgustingly shameful to say. He is invalidating trans women everywhere and it’s unacceptable and revolting. 

The Victoria’s Secret franchise has a global influence on pop culture. Young girls watch these fashion shows and look up to the women on their screens. How hard is it to have curvy women and trans women represented in these shows? Not everyone who watches these shows feels empowered by the models and their confidence because not all of us can relate to them. It will change young girls’ lives when there is finally full representation on the runway. Until then, Victoria’s Secret is going to lose a lot of customers.