It's the end of August, which means models and their agents are anxiously waiting to see who's made the cut for the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Every year at about this time, the interior of your average modeling agency looks a lot like the opening scene of The Devil Wears Prada: "Gird your loins!" shouts an agent across a sea of furrowed brows and bowed heads. For most models, it's a turning point in their career. But for some, namely those plus-size models who are routinely left out year-after-year, it's another missed opportunity.
Apart from the general excitement that comes with seeing some of our favorite models strut their stuff on the most-watched catwalk in the world, we've been pleasantly surprised to see how much racial diversity seems to be coming to this year's runway. In an Instagram post on his personal account, agent Darren Jay at The Society Management revealed four women of color who've made the cut so far: Amilna Estevao, Estelle Chen, Mayowa Nicholas, and Alecia Morais. In other posts found under the #vsfashionshow hashtag, a list of allegedly confirmed names included even more: Grace Bol, Aiden Curris (a rookie), Leomie Anderson, Leila Nda, Maria Borges, Dilone, Gizele Oliveira, Daniela Braga, Alanna Arrington, Cindy Bruna (a VS Fashion Show veteran, at this point), among many others.
For decades, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show has been criticized for its homogenous lineup of tall, thin, white and Latin women (whose genes seem virtually unattainable and don't represent what 67% of America looks like). Things got so bad, in fact, that several media outlets praised last year's broadcast for including a "record number" of Asian models, which was four out of more than 50 women who walked the show — a whopping 8%. At the same time, the show was applauded for its past-due embracement of natural hair for its models of color, as well as its reduction of cultural appropriation (ahem).
But let's get back to what really matters. Where — and we ask this with an ounce of mercy — is the body diversity? Where's Ashley Graham, or Candice Huffine, or any of these incredible women? Apparently the selection process for the show is very strict, and the casting heads — the team that includes John David Pfeiffer and Victoria's Secret's senior creative/chief marketing officer Ed Razek — seem to reach out to agencies with specific girls in mind. Essentially, they want who they want. And if you're curvy, odds are — at least for now — well, nonexistent.
Granted, the full list has yet to be released, and years past have kept major faces like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid a secret until the last minute, so we're really hoping to see some of the aforementioned models walk in Shanghai this year. It'd be a missed opportunity to see such a powerful, inclusive message come to life in front of millions of viewers.
Until then, we'll just keep watching this.