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Trans And Plus‑Size Women Have No Place In The ‘Fantasy’ Victoria’s Secret Is Selling

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Nov 12, 2018

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Okay Victoria’s Secret is officially cancelled.

In an interview with Vogue, the 70-year-old chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, said that he didn’t think trans women should walk the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, because it’s “a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special.”

The rest of the interview is equally telling, of a brand that markets itself as making women feel sexy, while systematically narrowing the definition of what and who is sexy. Razek responds to questions about upping diversity and the inclusion of plus-size and trans models by saying this: “I’m always asking myself: If we do that, what is the reason we did it? Why did we include that person? And did we include them to shut up a reporter? Did we include them because it was the right thing to do or because it was the politically correct thing to do?”

Including trans women isn’t a choice between doing what’s right and being politically correct; trans models work as hard as anyone else, and should be judged on their talent alone. To say that they don’t fit in with the ‘fantasy’ that Victoria’s Secret is trying to sell is flat-out transphobia — and the internet is not having it.

Of course, Victoria’s Secret issued a quick apology, for any of Razek’s remark that “came across as insensitive.” The statement read, “We’ve had transgender models come to castings … And  like many others, they didn’t make it … But it was never about gender.”

That’s a hard sell, when their chief marketing officer is very clear that casting choices were about the ideal ‘fantasy’ — which is defined by the exclusion of certain women. 

The fashion industry is changing its game — and honestly, it can’t afford not to. It’s 2018, and if companies aren’t representing a realistic range of women in their marketing, the pushback on social media alone would be enough to seriously damage their reputation (and sales). But while other brands are embracing cultural conversations around inclusivity, it seems like Victoria’s Secret is actively erasing women from their runway.

It really feels like the last nail on the coffin for VS, whose market share and comparable sales have been plummeting for a while. Models like Tess Holiday are now calling for a boycott of the brand, but the angels have honestly never been real enough for anyone. 

For people whose fantasies aren’t centered around skinny, white, cis women, there’s Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show to look to:

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Written By Nadia Nooreyezdan

Nadia Nooreyezdan is The Swaddle’s culture editor. Since graduating from Columbia Journalism School, she spends her time thinking about aliens, cyborgs, and social justice sci-fi. She’s also working on a memoir about her family’s journey from Iran to India.

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