Victoria’s secret, a company heralded by many, creators of one of the most highly anticipated shows of the year, has vocalised a transphobic sentiment.
Ed Razek, chief marketing officer for the company, in a statement earlier this week said the show shouldn’t include “transsexuals” or plus size women because it was supposed to be a “fantasy”.
The most worrying thing about this intolerant statement are the masses of people across social media platforms extending their support of what he said, claiming that this is Victoria’s Secrets “brand” and that we shouldn’t question that.
We are currently living in a world where Donald Trump is trying to revoke civil rights protections for transgender people (claiming gender is defined at birth) and strip them of their gender identity, threatening to subject people to DNA tests to match a persons gender with the sex they were assigned at birth. In 2018 alone, over 35 transgender community members have been unlawfully murdered. The idea that transgender women are not women in the eyes of Victoria’s secret, and those in support of them, is an idea that perpetuates the dehumanisation of these members of society, leading to violent attacks, exclusion, and murder.
There is nothing separating the mind set of Ed Razek and those who attack members of the trans community physically, the only difference is in how they act upon their transphobia. While Victoria’s secret isn’t running a campaign against the transgender community, or physically attacking them, the dialogue they are part of incites the type of hatred that leads to these attacks.
The wide support of his comments mimics the commentary that surrounded POC being taken seriously and cast as models in the fashion industry. People were quick to say that they shouldn’t “have to include” a person of colour, and that models were cast based on talent and aesthetic.
By not casting models from different areas of society, you are creating a void in visibility, and you are being complicit with the inequality POC, members of the LGBT+ community and other marginalised groups face.
However, the lack of surprise I feel about this statement is echoed by many, when looking back at Victoria’s Secrets 2010 show. In 2010, there was a segment of the show called “wild thing”, in which 6 black models walked the runway wearing tribal body paint, animal prints and surrounded by men wearing wrap skirts, who were also donned with black paint meant to mimic that of traditional tribal marking.