Content warning: This story mentions sexual harassment and abuse.
In the past few years, Victoria’s Secret has come under fire several times for some pretty solid reasons—most notably for its complete lack of inclusivity, as well as transphobic and fatphobic comments made by Ed Razek, one of the brand’s top executives, back in 2018. Then, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was cancelled in 2019 after more than 100 models made allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. In August, The New York Times reported that John Mehas, the CEO of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, had a close relationship with child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, and the pair reportedly “leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls.”
Now, a new report from the Times, published on February 1st, details the “entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment” at the lingerie brand, as expressed by more than 30 current and former executives, employees, contractors, and models, as well as court documents.
According to the report, Razek repeatedly subjected models to sexual harassment, with one former VS model, Andi Muise, sharing that Razek harassed her for months, and when she rebuffed his repeated advances, she was not asked to return to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
He also reportedly sat in on fittings and commented on models’ appearances, making inappropriate comments about their bodies and touching them without their consent. For example, the report states that Razek once told model Bella Hadid she had “perfect titties.”
Victoria’s Secret defined femininity for millions of women. But inside the company, 2 powerful men presided over an entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment, a New York Times investigation found. https://t.co/f5OdzLT6rs— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 1, 2020
Furthermore, Razek reportedly harassed non-model employees of the company, who shared with the Times that their complaints to human resources were ignored. Razek’s son also worked at the company and was reportedly moved to fellow L Brands company Bath and Body Works after similar complaints were filed by a female colleague.
Problems inside Victoria’s Secret came into focus last year when the deep ties of the company’s chief executive, Leslie Wexner, to Jeffrey Epstein became public. Epstein lured some young women by posing as a recruiter for Victoria’s Secret models. https://t.co/f5OdzLT6rs pic.twitter.com/0j5Cg8edxT— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 1, 2020
The report details a slew of other alarming accusations, in which employees faced retaliation if they spoke up about the way they were being treated. Our thoughts are with every single person that experienced this behavior at the hands of L Brands execs, and we commend them for coming forward to share their stories.
We hope this culture of misogyny comes to an end at Victoria’s Secret—and every other company—soon.