I haven’t been on here the past several days, what with trying to earn a living and fighting an achy cold since Thursday. But I’m back to share some lingering stuff related to my last post about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more importantly comments by Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, expressing that the show has no place for “transsexuals” (his term) or plus-size models on the catwalk (“because the show is a fantasy,” he reasoned).
Well, any hope that Victoria’s Secret and ABC would generate great ratings for the 2018 edition of the fashion show turned out to be a bigger fantasy. Last Sunday’s (December 2) airing of the event registered an all-time low viewership number. And that’s coming off previous all-time lows for viewership in both 2017 and 2016, the last two years the event aired on CBS.
A lot of reasons could be cited for the drop in ratings for VS’ fashion show. For one, there’s the fact that it aired opposite the ratings behemoth that is Sunday night NFL football (always an eyeball grabber no matter what ails that league). Or it could be the change in networks, with the fashion show airing on ABC after a decade and a half on CBS. (“Ethel, why are we watching a rerun of NCIS? I thought they’d be airing that fashion show that makes me horny.”)
Or it could be very well that it’s a boring show, which is what the Washington Post‘s fashion critic called it in a next-day review: Homogeneous-looking models, being painted as “show ponies,” wearing “underwear that was not particularly sexy, sophisticated, or cool” but trying to look glamorous with a pair of angel wings added to it. And all for the sake of a lingerie company run by old men who think this is the only type of ideal feminine image. In the era of #MeToo and women standing up to be something other than a sexual object for men to ogle over, that attitude is lethal for any fashion brand such as VS that’s stuck with a conservative mindset when catering to women.
But the most obvious and immediate damage to the show and Victoria’s Secret was their above alluded shunning of trans and plus-size models. Regarding the former of the two, there are those who are taking a stand. For example, Hannah McKnight, whose WordPress blog I follow and who makes no bones about her support of companies who are transgender friendly (e.g. Sephora, Target), voiced her disappointment in Victoria’s Secret, where she has shopped and has been treated very well. After Ed Rezek’s comments from that Vogue interview were made public, and after Rezek voiced his apologies, Hannah sent a comment to Victoria’s Secret on their website voicing her displeasure in the company. Needless to say, Hannah’s not going to be shopping at Victoria’s Secret in the foreseeable future, at least not until VS wins back the trust of the trans community. All she got in response from VS was a stock auto-reply. As the saying goes, silence speaks volumes.
But standing up for something speaks volumes as well. When Ed Rezek said what he said, not only did that reflect badly on Victoria’s Secret, it gave the impression that those in the trans community are not welcome into the fashion world. Thankfully, those who are trans and who are in the fashion world won’t stand for such anti-trans misogyny. SBS News in Australia has a must-read write-up about Australian trans fashion models and makeup artists who want to not only give their fellow trans talent opportunities but to make them feel welcome in the industry. One of those is Victoria Anthony, a DJ and performer (and, full disclosure, someone I happen to follow on social media), who is exploring the possibility of opening the first modeling agency in Australia dedicated to representing trans talent.
And it’s not just trans people standing up for trans talent, but also the cis-gender community as well. One such person is the musician Halsey, who identifies as part of the LGBT+ community and was one of the performers at this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Yeah, she was in the belly of the proverbial beast. To be fair to Halsey and anyone else who performed in the show, it was produced before Ed Rezek’s disappointing comments appeared in Vogue. But that doesn’t mean that, as a cis-gender person, she didn’t feel the sting and disappointment of those comments, nor was she immune to the criticism she faced even performing in that event. After the VS fashion show had its ABC broadcast last Sunday, Halsey took to Twitter thusly:
Simply put, Halsey is disappointed in Victoria’s Secret and their leadership’s viewpoints. And she has our community’s back. Good for her, and well said by her as well. We need allies of any way, shape, or form standing beside us in any way, shape, or form. And we need to stand up for inclusion against organizations such as Victoria’s Secret and business leaders such as Ed Rezek who express the belief that those in the trans community can’t sell the “fantasy.” Oh, yes, we can. Whether we’re strutting down the catwalk, applying makeup to the models backstage, or designing their outfits, we can put so much passion into our work as well as inspire those who want to follow in our footsteps. Don’t ask about what kind of junk we have in our trunks, just let us have the chance to do our work with pride.