Victoria’s Secret may pride themselves on being “culturally diverse” for featuring models from different backgrounds and of different ethnicities, but, the brand’s recently-revealed views on featuring plus-sized and transgender models prove they’ve still got a ways to go.
Following the backlash, the brand released a statement from chief marketing officer of L Brands Ed Razek on Twitter.
“My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model in our show. We've had transgender models come to castings...And like many others, they didn't make it. It was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
Ahead of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, Razek and the executive vice president of public relations at VS, Monica Mitro, explained why neither has appeared in the show in an interview with Vogue. "I don’t think we can be all things to all customers. It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store,” Razek said.
He went on to defend the brand’s decision to exclude curvier models, citing that “no one had any interest” in watching a show featuring them in the past and “still don’t.” Later, he specifically explained why transgender models are also a no-go for VS. "’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,” he said.
Razek’s comments, specifically the anti-trans ones, drew heavy criticism from many on social media.
Hey @VictoriasSecret!— Ophelia Brown (@opheliajcbrown) November 10, 2018
Not including plus-sized or trans models in your fashions shows is super uncool!
I’m both trans and plus-sized and I work a bikini as well as any one of your models can.
Don’t be on the wrong side of history! We deserve runway representation! pic.twitter.com/k0YGoNmpoC
Hey @VictoriasSecret you need plus size models, trans models, and plus size trans models. If you’re marketing to actual women and not the disgusting “fantasy” of a woman that men want to see then make your material relatable. Honestly this is basic shit. Shame on you— ?️?Alex Zinn?️? (@AlexZinn3) November 10, 2018
While transgender visibility on the catwalk is somewhat improving – 45 transgender models and four non-binary models walked major and semi-major runways this past season – comments like Razek’s keep any major progress from being made. So hopefully this incident will inspire VS to make a real change and adjust their scope on what being diverse truly means.