With models like Grace Bol, Duckie Thot and Ashley Graham strutting down runways—and our timelines—almost every day, it’s comforting to see more diverse representation in the world of mainstream beauty and fashion. Recent comments from Victoria’s Secret Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, however, prove that we haven’t made quite as much progress as we’d hoped. Razek came under fire for anti-trans and anti-plus statements he gave in an interview with Vogue.com after the taping of the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on November 8th.
When asked about public demand for a more inclusive selection of models, Razek had this to say: “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.” He goes on to dismiss the idea of adding plus-size or curve models to the runway special: “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” Well, it seems Razek was sadly misinformed—or just willfully obtuse. Social media is being swept by indignant fans calling bs on his claims, and leading the charge in criticism against him is the trans and plus community.
Trans model and activist Jari Jones penned a fiery piece for Essence.com criticizing Razek for his words. Jones is both trans and plus-size, and is very vocal on her social platforms about ending the erasure of people like herself from public and professional spaces. The model pens, “This my friends is what we call transphobia and fatphobia at its finest. Razek is not only ignorantly disconnected from the idea that trans and plus-size models are amongst the women that are fantasized about—but he is also blinded to the monetary gain companies have made by being inclusive to this community of people.” Jones predicts that the lingerie manufacturer will soon fall from grace if they don’t get with the times and update their historically Eurocentric, cis-gendered, and straight-size ideal of beauty.
According to Forbes.com, that fall from grace is already happening with Victoria’s Secret sales on the decline. Add to that a slew of newly pissed off consumers, and Razek will be kicking himself for his ignorance. The brand Chief Marketing Officer did issue an apology after being read for filth all across the internet, but many find his retraction disingenuous, or simply too little, too late. The fact is, as Jones points out, the inclusion of trans and plus models should not be an afterthought, but a proactive and enthusiastic celebration of a culture that’s trending towards diversity more and more every day. Frankly, we don’t have time for Vicky’s Secret not to be on board when there are plenty of other brands who’ve already gotten the memo. Jones points to brands like Phluid and Universal Standard, both of which she’s worked for in lingerie and bathing suit campaigns. Let us not forget the infamous Savage X Fenty runway show earlier this year, in which models of all colors and body types strutted their stuff—including a very pregnant Slick Woods, who gave birth just hours after walking the runway!
Jari Jones is fed up, and her sentiment is being echoed by (former) Victoria’s Secret fans all over Twitter and Instagram. Jones argues that it’s time to “cut off the wings,” and reconsider patronizing a brand that so flagrantly dismisses entire populations of human beings. There’s no wrong way to be a woman, and no wrong way to have a body. Trans and plus people should not only be the fantasy, but the reality of what is considered beautiful in today’s age. The runway special, set to air on Sunday, December 2nd, is usually immensely popular among brand fans, but thanks to Razek’s ignorant comments, it just may be #CANCELLED.
What do you think about Razek’s trans and fatphobic comments? Do you accept his apology, or should he keep that same energy? Drop a comment down below.