Is Victoria's Secret's Representation of Diversity Enough in 2017?
Victoria’s Secret, a company that can be considered to be the leader of the lingerie industry, has had their fair share of controversy in 2017. With their immense influence on not only the fashion world, but consumers in general, it is clear that Victoria’s Secret holds power in the marketplace.
Earlier this year, the brand released their annual “What is Sexy” List, which gave fans the opportunity to define sexy movers and shakers in different categories such as sexiest actress, breakout star, and DJ. The list had barely been released when intense backlash for its lack of diversity started. The list of 24 categories consisted of only three women of color: Priyanka Chopra, Jamie Chung, and Vanessa Hudgens. The rest of the winners have a few things in common: they're young, white, skinny, rich, and women (except for the one dude that made the list, James Corden). Obviously fans had something to say. For a company that is supported by women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, shouldn't their list and brand reflect that?
Flash forward to November, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show had its second major opportunity to get representation right. Fingers were crossed and eyes were glaring to see if Victoria's Secret would establish their brand as one of diversity that values inclusion. To reaffirm what they truly define as sexy.
Luckily, everyone's prayers to the representation-in-beauty Gods worked because the 2017 show can be considered to be the most inclusive one yet, casting more Chinese models than ever before. While the brand is known for their models sporting bouncy bombshell waves, this year, many of the models rocked their natural hair. The brand first allowed a model to wear her hair naturally in 2015, and has continued to do so since. The lead stylist of the fashion show told popsugar.com, “If girls have got great curly hair, we're not blowing them out… we are just enhancing what they’ve already got.”
While this is a huge step for the brand, and for the fashion industry in general, the show still recieved backlash for its absence of plus size models. While some may claim that this is just the standard of the fashion industry, influencers and plus size models have expressed their retaliation to the skinny standard on social media.
The one and only Ashley Graham, who has built a brand as an outspoken and influential plus size model, body positivity advocate, and judge on America's Next Top Model, expressed her thoughts on Instagram. She posted a photo on November 19th from the Addition Elle show sporting only lingerie and a set of wings.
She captioned the photo, “Got my wings!... my #AdditionElle wings!” throwing shade to the lineup of models in the Victoria’s Secret show. Many fans were upset to find out that she was not chosen to participate in the show and many hope to see her walk for Victoria’s Secret in the future.
While the 2017 Victoria’s Secret fashion show challenged many standards of the industry, there is no doubt that the company has a long way to go. With the progress that has been made this year, and the influence of social media, 2018 is sure to be an interesting year for the brand.