Victoria’s Secret models on the runway during the 2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Photo: Getty Images
Stop trying to make Victoria’s Secret a role model for women everywhere — it’s never going to happen.
A Change.org petition is calling on the lingerie company to make Carmen Carrera, a transgender reality star and model, a VS Angel. It has received nearly 50,000 signatures, with the page pleading with the brand to enlist her because having “a transgender model walk would show that trans women are to be taken seriously and that Angels are selected because of their character and talent.”
“I want to do this for the 50,000 people who signed the petition on Change.org. I want to do this for, of course, me and my career. I’m a show girl at heart. If I’m going to do fashion shows, this is the one to do,” she told Time.com in reaction to the nomination. “And I want to do it for my family. I want them to be proud of me. I want them to be like, that’s our kid, we raised that girl right there. And my community, for sure.”
Carmen Carrera in a black and white dress at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Getty Images
If Victoria’s Secret listens, great. Carrera is beautiful and would work a pair of wings. But the real question is why do so many people hold Victoria’s Secret to this standard? Why is it supposed to the be the beacon of body positivity hope? Carrera certainly isn’t the first to be put up for the job in hopes of changing the look of models. Victoria’s Secret, a Limited company, has been on the receiving end of multiple campaigns to change its casting towards a more progressive and inclusive group of individuals. Ashley Graham has been nominated for the job to represent a curvier demographic and Rebel Wilson publicly criticized the brand onstage at the MTV Movie Awards. “Sometimes girls will look at Victoria’s Secret models and think they have to model themselves after that, but I really don’t think that’s the best,” she said. “Even though they’re called models, they’re not the best people to model themselves after.”
Wilson’s statement is obvious. The Angels are chosen for their holy positions based on the fact that they’re human anomalies (or inhuman cupids?). They have more abdominal muscles than most, longer limbs than a large percentage of the population, and blindingly obvious beauty that is rarely found in nature. But these are just a handful of girls who get paid millions to exercise excessively, constantly restrict their caloric intake to an almost sad degree, and spend hours with glam squads getting full hair and makeup done before they see the light of day.
These women shouldn’t be setting examples of what the ideal body type or lifestyle is — but they’ve also never made themselves out to be. The heroine title has been adopted by society. Sure, Victoria’s Secret is a massive brand with a lot of eyeballs on it, but it’s a corporation. It doesn’t have a responsibility to make people happy, it has bras and underwear to sell and sexy women seem to do it best.
Why is Victoria’s Secret the only company that gets called out for not including women of all shapes and sizes? No one else in the fashion industry is adopting reflective casting practices, yet it’s called out as a whole while Victoria’s Secret gets individually attacked. But instead of asking Victoria’s Secret to be a beacon of hope, why not just look to the brands that are already employing the women petitions and campaigns call on Victoria’s Secret to hire. Lane Bryant, Sophie Theallet, Torrid, and others are just some of the companies doing so.
Here’s some free advice: rather than shaming Victoria’s Secret, accept it for what it is. Let those women be Barbies and find your real Angels elsewhere.