Victoria’s Secret Comes Out: Still Transphobic & Fatphobic in 2018

As standards and expectations in the modeling industry change, redefine and break the norms, it seems that Victoria’s Secret is a company that is not quite on board. The 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show took place on November 8th in New York City at Pier 94. The show is set to broadcast and stream online December 2nd. There has been a lot of controversy around Victoria’s Secret for a while now, but this most recent show has stirred up a lot of issues, specifically regarding fatphobia and transphobia. This article will have everything you need to know about the show and the controversies that are surrounding the company.    

The 2017 Show vs the 2018 Show

The 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was one of their most diverse shows to date, with 50 percent of their models being of different ethnicities. We also saw pregnant women walking in past shows. However, this year, that was not the case. It feels and looks as though they have taken steps backwards. This year we did see the first ever Filipino model, Kelsey Merritt, to walk the show, and Winnie Harlow, who’s a Canadian model with a skin condition called vitiligo. The diversity in the race and background of models definitely does not lack as much as their diversity in size. However, every year there seems to be less and less interest in watching the show and buying lingerie, and this is no coincidence when considering the fact that more people want to see inclusivity and diversity.





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The Statement from Ed Razek​

On the day of the 2018 fashion show, Vogue released an interview with Ed Razek, Victoria’s Secret chief marketing officer. When asked if he would ever include transgender or plus-size models in the show, he responded with “I don’t think we should. Our show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special.” This specific statement is what has caused an uprise in anger and disappointment in the company from audiences. The problem with this idea of only a certain body type, gender, and/or color being a fantasy suggests that every other body is not a fantasy or something to fantasize about. This is extremely damaging to the progress of accepting all of the other wide ranges of body types & shapes that are out there, being even more damaging to developing youth and younger generations. The article spoke a lot about how “progress gets made, and part of what’s happened in our show is that the girls have just continued to get more physically fit. We don’t tell them to; they compete with one another and they work hard, they work in pairs, they work in threes. Many of them work out at the same gyms; they have complex routines. They shouldn’t have to apologize for that.” To say that they are not forced or told to continue becoming as fit as possible is sad, and there’s no reason as to why these models wouldn’t feel pressured to be absolutely perfect. If it’s not Ed Razek telling them, it’s the insane standards that come with being an Angel in the show that are.



The Rest of the Vogue Interview

The article came off in a very self-righteous way. Razek said “we’re nobody’s third love. We’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning.” To understand in context, ThirdLove is another competing brand, that has received investment from a former CEO of Victoria’s Secret, which is known for being more diverse in shape of models and size of items. Razek made it pretty clear that he doesn't feel the need to be addressing the change in the lingerie market and that they are not worried about their competitors, especially Rihanna's new lingerie company Savage X Fenty. The rest of the article includes more details about the specifics of the show process, models, designs, company and industry.



The Backlash

By November 10th, Model Alliance issued out an apology on Instagram expressing their shock and disappointment with what was said by Ed Razek in the interview. They acknowledged that "such comments create a hostile work environment for people who do not conform to Victoria's Secret's mold – one that enforces an idea of female beauty that is predominantly white, cisgender, young and thin." The apology further challenged Victoria’s Secret to be the leaders they claim to be and join the RESPECT Program, which is meant to help protect female models in the workplace with safer environments and protections against sexual harassment. Victoria’s Secret itself also issued out an apology post on Twitter made by Ed Razek, but it was only directed towards transgender models; nothing about plus-sized models was acknowledged. Even this apology only really talked about the transphobic comments and not the fatphobia.


After the Vogue interview was released, many plus-sized models and others took to Instagram and expressed their anger with the statements. Bree Kish, who is a plus-sized model, posted photos of her in lingerie and captioned the photo “I can’t be apart of the fantasy? I beg to differ. Thank u, next.” All the comments and feedback on her post were all positive and supportive. Ashley Graham, who is another famously known plus-sized model shared a drawing of her in angel wings and lingerie to her Instagram story, expressing the need to see more realistic models and body types in this show. Body positivity and mental health advocate Lexie Manion made a post to Instagram of herself with drawn-on angel wings and expressed all her issues with Victoria’s Secret. She specifically used the hashtag #everywomanisanangel, and there are plenty of others doing the same as her.




Victoria’s Secret executive Ed Razek doesn’t want trans women or plus size women in the VS Fashion show. “No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy” is just one of many atrocious quotes from his recent Vogue interview. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m disgusted by the fatphobia and transphobia. And I’m exhausted by the backpedaling and excuses that followed. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Quite frankly, people who speak and think like that shouldn’t have to be won over. I don’t want VS clothing or lingerie in my size. Plus size women and those in the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans women: do you want your size and/or to see your body represented by a company that thrives off exclusion and shame? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We all know that VS is very successful and could very well continue on that path of success. A boycott could do nothing. But at the end of the day, the consumer truly makes or breaks a company. So, tell @victoriassecret that you’re tired of this. Let them know that you’re an angel whether they want you to be or not. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ve always been concerned about how VS negatively impacts young, impressionable minds. Seeing only one body type celebrated and succeed can create all sorts of issues, one being body image. To anyone out there struggling with body image or self worth, know that you’re never alone in this. You’re beautiful and worthy no matter what, and I encourage you to talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. You deserve to feel better. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The other issue here is the lack of representation among VS’s models and in their advertising. But really? At this point, do you even want VS to continue trying to redeem themselves? After saying no one wants VS plus sizes because they failed at a plus size TV special nearly two decades ago? After admitting they have not given trans women jobs in the past because they’re trans? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Honestly, they don’t deserve us angels. I’ll #makemyownwings and fly away from the bs. Thank you for inspiring me @thebirdspapaya #everywomanisanangel

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Other Lingerie Brands

Though the market for lingerie has greatly declined over the years, there are several brands that are body positive and size inclusive. As someone who does not fit into the normal white, thin stereotype for their models, it’s important to support the brands that show more diversity and offer a more inclusive size range like Aerie and Savage x Fenty. What I love about Savage X Fenty is that not only does the brand use a variety of models in terms of size and color, but the majority, if not all of their designs, are for both the standard size line and the curvy size line. Now that’s diversity. Aerie markets that none of their photos are edited, photoshopped or retouched, all while using diverse, natural models of many shapes, heights and colors. Along with ThirdLove, all of these brands work towards being much more inclusive in all aspects.




This is what #AerieREAL is all about.

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Though boycotting Victoria’s Secret may not do much to stop this issue, you can choose to support other lingerie companies that do accommodate everyone. Whether transgender people and plus-size models can be in a lingerie show is definitely not something to debate. It should be a no-brainer and it’s important to keep advocating for these kinds of stigmas to end. Body positivity is so important, and understanding that there is definitely more than one body type is just as important. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable, empowered, confident, and sexy in their lingerie, and Victoria’s Secret should not be stopping people from doing so.