Recently, Victoria’s Secret Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek was dragged all over the internet for insensitive comments many are calling trans and fat-phobic. In an interview with Vogue.com, Razek dismissed transgender and plus-size models, claiming that they fall outside of the “fantasy” idea Vicky’s Secret has cultivated through the years. Indignant fans expressed their disappointment in Razek’s statements all over Instagram, and among his biggest critics was trans model and activist, Jari Jones.
In an essay for Essence.com, Jones condemned Razek’s comments and the brand’s overall exclusion of different body types in its annual fashion show. She urged fans to “cut the wings,” and instead reserve their support for more inclusive brands, like Savage X Fenty. A vocal activist in the trans community, Jones didn’t stop there. On Saturday, she put her money where her mouth was, and strutted her stuff in “The Real Catwalk NYC,” an annual pop-up runway show in Times Square designed to highlight different body types, sizes, and genders. This year’s Real Catwalk was the biggest one yet, with over 200 people modeling in the flashmob-style event. Jones opened the show and was followed down the runway by a diverse collection of trans, plus, and differently-abled models.
Saturday’s show marked the third installation of The Real Catwalk. Founded by former America’s Next Top Model contestant, KhrystyAna Kazakova, the show made its debut back in December 2017, and also popped up in London this past August. A body positive activist and no stranger to shaking things up—she competed on ANTM at 32 years of age—it’s no coincidence that KhrystyAna scheduled this year’s Real Catwalk for the night before the airing of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. In a big “F you” to the lingerie brand, Real Catwalk participants celebrated their own idea of fantasy, one that encompasses all bodies without apology or exception. She partnered with brands like Swimsuits For All, Roamans, Woman Within, and King Size.
Contrary to Razek’s statements, people are most definitely here for inclusion in the fashion world. He claimed there was no demand to see a new version of beauty on the runway, saying, “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 he might want to reevaluate that opinion.
While The Real Catwalk had its largest turnout yet, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show dropped to its lowest ratings in history. While it’s always wonderful to see more black models getting shine in the show, like Leomie Anderson and Duckie Thot, it’s no longer enough to just throw a few black girls up on stage. People want the full breadth of human representation, and if Vicky’s Secret doesn’t get on board soon, they’ll get left behind.
What do you think of The Real Catwalk runway show? Would you dare to strut your stuff in the middle of Times Square? Leave a comment below.