Is Victoria’s Secret Really Jumping On The Body- And Gender-Inclusive Wagon?

Let’s break this down!


“Victoria’s Secret Hires First Plus Size Model”, read V Magazine’s latest news article on the lingerie giant. Shortly after VS’s former marketing executive Ed Razek had to step down over his controversial Vogue interview, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, had promised to revise the brand’s rather dated take on the perfect woman. #loveyourself is a collaboration with UK lingerie darling, Bluebella, which features four models in sexy black bodysuits. Amongst them, 22-year-old “plus-size” beauty Ali Tate Cutler. After hiring Brazilian transgender model Valentina Sampaio, this campaign is apparently the second milestone in this era of change, or as Catler called it “(VS making) a great step in the right direction for bodies”.

To say that I was confused about this announcement is really an understatement. I strongly believe that as I scrolled through the article, there must’ve been a prominent “WTF?” written all over my forehead. This whole thing made me wonder: how can a brand that’s so well-known for excluding women who wear everything above a C-cup, turn over a new leaf this quickly? After all, it’s been a bare five minutes since Razek went out of his way to explain why he doesn’t think that trans and plus-size models should be included in the Victoria’s Secret fashion extravaganza that usually happens every year (or not anymore?).

So, let’s talk about this whole inclusive campaign thing. Yes, the lingerie itself looks cute and I’m sure your BF would appreciate seeing you rocking see-through black bras, but can this really be considered a genuine change for VS? I don’t think so, and before you shrug me off as an eternal pessimist, let me explain.

According to a recent study, the average woman in the US is between a size 14 and 16. In most recent years, the fashion world is classing size 14 and above as “plus-size”, meaning every average American woman has to shop in the plus-size section. Do you want to tell me that’s normal? And in this case, do you truly believe that advertising a size 14 woman as “plus-size” doesn’t do any harm to women’s psyche?

Continuing our ever-growing list of what’s wrong about this ad: their actual choice of model. Even though Catler is classed as a “plus-size” model herself and seems to be all about body positivity on her IG, the model has actually gained a reputation of fat-shaming fellow women. See, comments such as “being obese is simply bad for the environment, and in this day and age, we cannot afford that lack of empathy anymore” is not exactly what you would expect from a plus-size model who’s all about good vibes and self-love. And let us get this straight, Catler was hired by Bluebella which means that after years of backlash, criticism and controversy, Victoria’s Secret still has not a single plus-size model in their lines.

If you ask me, the poster looks like VS just went over all the boxes that brands are expected to tick nowadays.

“Oh, you want us to be body positive? Great, here’s a woman who wears UK size 14 in our ad. Backlash over homophobic comments? We’ll just include a transgender model. And while we’re at it, let’s make an ethnically diverse cast out of this. Et voila, the ad’s done!”

Come on, guys! It takes a bit more than replacing a marketing executive and coming up with a few collaborations to make me buy your overpriced panties again. While brands such as American Eagle’s Aerie, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty and Chromat have made it part of their brand identity to be as diverse and inclusive as possible, Victoria’s Secret’s take just seems forced and, in a way, wrong. Or maybe that’s just me being the eternal pessimist that I am - you be the judge of that.


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