On December 2, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show aired on ABC. Although in recent years the broadcast has attracted criticism for its lack of body diversity on the runway, it faced additional scrutiny because of comments made by the brand’s executives ahead of the 2018 taping. Even before that, though, hashtags like #ImNoAngel, #WeAreAlltheFantasy, #WeAreAllAngels, and #BeautyBeyondSize have emerged to challenge the narrow beauty and body ideals promoted by the show’s casting. And this year Ashley Graham, Marquita Pring, Danielle Brooks, Nicolette Mason, and other voices in the body-positive conversation have chimed in, sharing photos of themselves in lingerie on social media to demonstrate that people of all sizes are sexy.
Graham posted pictures of several curve models who have walked in Addition Elle’s lingerie fashion show, including Tabria Majors, Precious Lee, and Sabina Karlsson. (Pring showed her gratitude to her on Instagram, writing: “Thanks for reminding me how much I love walking down the runway in my underwear.”)
Danielle Brooks, an ambassador for Lane Bryant’s Cacique, shared the brand’s most recent lingerie campaign, released ahead of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Mason, who cofounded Premme with Gabi Gregg, teased an upcoming lingerie set: “Not your angel…. We made this set since VS won’t.”
Since Victoria’s Secret’s televised fashion show first aired, it has featured a lineup of slim, sample-size models that, though racially diverse, doesn’t represent a range of body types. In November, Vogue published an interview with Ed Razek, CMO of L Brands (which owns Victoria’s Secret), and Monica Mitro, EVP of public relations at Victoria’s Secret, in which they defend its approach to casting. “If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have…. We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world,” Razek said. Victoria’s Secret has since issued an apology for his comments regarding transgender models, but did not walk back the remarks on size inclusivity.
After the Vogue interview, ThirdLove took out a full-page ad in The New York Times, writing an open letter to Victoria’s Secret, responding not only to Razek’s comments about curvy and trans models, but also to his apparent jab at the brand. (“We’re nobody’s third love. We’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning,” he told Vogue.)
U.K.-based Simply Be also staged a size-inclusive lingerie show—complete with wings.
In a statement to Glamour on the day of the taping, Mitro emphasized other forms of diversity in the show: “The women in this year’s show are from all over the world. They represent many stages of a modeling career, and each has her own story to tell. Scrutinizing women’s bodies of any size related to the Victoria’s Secret brand is unfortunate because it puts judgment on women of any body type. Victoria’s Secret believes the body positivity dialogue should be positive. It should not be done by putting other women down, including the 60 women that are excited to be in our Fashion Show. These women represent so many important aspects of diversity that should be celebrated beyond solely focusing on their bodies.”
With these posts, body-positive models and influencer argue that women of all sizes are worthy of being considered the “fantasy”—whether that means walking down the runway or simply feeling good in their lingerie. It’s not the first time they use social media to call out Victoria’s Secret and its annual show: Last year Graham posted a photo from the Addition Elle runway, photoshopped to a pair of angel wings referencing the Victoria’s Secret Angels. “Got my wings…my Addition Elle Wings!” she wrote.