The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is set to make its debut in the romantic city of Paris next month. Five hundred million viewers are projected to tune in from over 150 countries to watch 54 elite supermodels take the coveted runway with towering wings and sizzling lingerie. But as usual, we're expecting there to be a considerable lack of diversity showcased alongside the styles.
Victoria's Secret has been notoriously slow when it comes to embracing women of different shapes, sizes, and, ethnicities. In its 21-year history, the show has never featured a model above a size six (the average woman is a size 16). Last year, Maria Borges became the first model to walk with an Afro. Only two women of color made the latest crop of 10 Victoria's Secret Angels. There's yet to be an Angel of Asian descent — and even though the brand chose Jasmine Tookes to model the infamous fantasy bra, she is only the second woman of color to ever do so.
These stats cause concern in and of themselves, but also because of the illustriousness of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Just a glimpse at the audition tapes proves how hard these women work for a shot at gracing this prestigious runway.
The elitism –– combined with the idealization of thinness and lack of diversity –– sets a very poor precedent for women like Nadia Aboulhosn, a size-8 model, who believes there's a chance VS will become more accepting in the future.
"I think they have a brand image for themselves," she told Mic in an interview. "That's just what they've done for years. I can't expect everyone to turn a new leaf as quickly as I'd like them to. I love VS, I wear them all the time. I really think with time, they will. Maybe that's me thinking positive or maybe that's because I never give up on trying to break down doors."
Aboulhosn has made quite a name for herself, modeling for campaigns like H&M, Addition Elle, and Khloe Kardashian's Good American. Earlier this year, she became the second "plus-size" model to ever appear on the cover of Women's Running. Not to mention that, according to Cosmopolitan, she has more Instagram followers than several models who regularly appear on the prestigious VS Fashion Show. So what is it going to take for her, or women like her, to make it to that runway?
"I think it's just going to have to be pushing down doors and really being persistent," she says. "The more we show and demand that women of all sizes and ethnicities are beautiful, then they'll come around."
While Aboulhosn holds on to a glimmer of hope, seeing plus-size women strut their stuff for Victoria's Secret doesn't seem like a reality in the near future. A brand that has such a powerful, long-lasting impact on young women seems to continuously fail at representing their body type, shape, and ethnicity among other things. But as much as that still disappoints, at least we're talking about it –– and that is definitely a step in the right direction.