I was thrilled to have my wings on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway in the past, but equally disappointed to hear Ed Razek’s insulting comments about trans and plus sized models today.
It hasn’t even been the first time I’ve been disappointed by the brand, there have been more than one instance of cultural appropriation, with the Native American headdress worn by a white, blonde model being the one of the cringiest.
I had hoped they’d learned and grown since then, but although they have made some progressive moves along the way this latest controversy is too much for me to ignore.
Ed Razek, in an interview a few days ago with Vogue, was quoted saying:
”It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader. They don’t talk about each other. I accept that. I actually respect it. Cool. But we’re nobody’s third love. (Note: ThirdLove is a competitor that has received investment from a former CEO of Victoria’s Secret stores.) We’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning.”
The article in question is here: https://www.vogue.com/article/victorias-secret-ed-razek-monica-mitro-interview
He has apparently apologized for the remarks since, saying he hopes that a trans model eventually does get hired to walk down the runway. However, isn’t he the guy in charge of who gets into the show?
Many in and outside of the industry aren’t buying the apology, and I have to say it does come across as just PR damage control whereas the comments to Vogue sounded like a pretty clear statement that he doesn’t want to hire trans or plus size models because that is not his fantasy. Perhaps he assumes they aren’t anyone else’s either if they aren’t his, but isn’t the goal of the show to sell underwear to women of all shapes and sizes in the end? Did he not consider he already has trans and plus size customers, that they are in fact a part of his market?
Or at least, they were…
To many, the apology isn’t enough especially in a time when our current White House administration is seeking to erase trans and intersex people from existence, declaring only the genitals we were born with can determine our gender.
What they don’t get is that there are as many people born intersex as there are red haired and green eyed people. A larger percentage may seem to have a clear sex at birth but don’t identify with it at all. Even the science doesn’t support transphobia. Trans gender and intersex people DO exist and they did not choose their gender in the way you would choose a hair cut or even a nose job. It’s who they ARE. And they already face some of the worst and humiliating discrimination and hate crimes our society has to offer. Most especially if you’re a black trans woman.
If after learning this, you are looking for a new under things source, Teen Vogue has stepped up with a list here.
Now I know I’m not a high profile, big name designer with a team and a runway show during fashion week, and so I don’t know who would really care whether or not I work with VS again. They might not even have anymore need of my services. The experience that I had in 2014 and 2015 was a positive one, they paid what I asked without hassle like anyone else, and the individuals I was in contact with were easy to work with. I also don’t begrudge the individual models or the many different artists, like me, that they hire to create wearable art for the show. We definitely don’t fit the demographic that the models do and are a diverse bunch ourselves.
However, if I were asked again today to provide wings for the show, my answer would have to be no as long as Razek is still a gatekeeper for the angel’s runway.
One of the reasons I prefer fairies to angels is that fairies are not perfect and have never needed to be. Just like most of us.