This Trans Model Is Rallying For Victoria Secret To Evolve Its Limited Perspective Of What Beauty Is

Big box lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is no stranger to controversies related to cultural insensitivity. In recent years the brand has been lambasted by critics and feminist groups alike for their Influence on sociocultural body image norms, child labor, and appropriation of culture. More recently, the manufacturer gained criticism after the company’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company L Brands made anti-trans comments in a recent interview with Vogue magazine about the direction of the company’s branding and use of models.

In a recent interview, Razek emphatically rejected the idea that VS would have a trans model walk down its runway or appear in its catalogs.

Speaking to Vogue about the brand’s opinion about including trans and plus-size models in its lineup, Razek told the magazine “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.” The marketing executives comments quickly provoked a mass of social media pushback, with some of the lines’ own models even calling for a boycott and support for a more evolved and diverse show in the near future.

Razek has since apologized for his words but celebrity figureheads and customers of the brand have proved that they are still not pleased.

Trans Filipina model Geena Rocero has also spoken out against Razek by proving that trans models can certainly sell “fantasy.”

In a piece published on Elle.com, the Manila-born activist explained why she started to post #TransIsBeautiful photos on her Instagram in response to the transphobic Victoria’s Secret stance and how she is not letting naysayers bring her down. She admitted that it has “always been such an aspiration to be a part of that dream” [of walking the Victoria’s Secret fashion show runway] because it is televised globally and can mean a lot for a model’s career,” she explained before going onto highlight that the brand launched the career of big-name models like Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima. “All of these supermodels walked the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. I wanted to be just like them — especially the models of color… VS has started including different races in their casting, but it’s not enough. They need to do more.”

Rocero’s assertion that trans women are sexy and just as capable of selling the “fantasy” of lingerie comes at a truly crucial time.

This isn’t her first foray into activism, however. In 2014, Rocero gave a TED Talk where she came out as transgender and launched Gender Proud, an advocacy group that “aims to uplift transgender communities around the globe.”

Not only is she a trans rights advocate but she is also a proud Filipina immigrant and is outspoken about how those identities need to be represented.

“For me, two big intersections — being a proud, transgender woman of color and an immigrant, and being a proud Filipina — all of these things I bring into the work that I do because it provides me a sense of pride and healing. For so long, it was dictated to me that all those identities — trans, immigrant, Filipina — were not represented. I wanted to do my part in making an impact.”

In the Elle piece, she writes about how she had to come to terms with the colonized mentality that whiteness is more beautiful than brown skin.

Ultimately, however, she came to be proud of all of her identities.

“Growing up in the Philippines, I bought all those ideas that stem from a colonized mentality — that your proximity to whiteness makes you beautiful. I myself would buy skin whitening soap and cream. It’s blatantly advertised on billboards and commercials: You want to be white? You’ll be sexier and happier if you’re white. But the moment I became more in touch with that, I realized the power I carry with me in all the spaces I inhabit is because of those identities, not despite those identities.”

Rocero’s criticism of Victoria’s Secret boils down to this: If you don’t become more inclusive (that means including both trans and plus-size models in your future fashions hows), you are going to get left behind.

“Inclusivity in a brand ethos is both the now and the future. You can’t escape that fact. The train is moving so fast. You’re going to get left behind,” she concluded.

And she’s not wrong.

If the backlash Victoria’s Secret has faced in the past few days has proven anything, it’s that anti-trans and fatphobic comments do not belong here anymore. The world is moving along in the right direction, even if that’s still difficult to see in today’s political climate. If Victoria’s Secret wants to sell “fantasy,” then they need to include diverse women who represent what America and the world really look like today.

Fans of Rocero took to Twitter to express their support of her calling out Victoria’s Secret.

As fans have pointed out, she can most definitely sell fantasy with her, well, model body and gorgeous looks. It’s not like she’s lacking in work, either.

Others took to pointing out that Rocero is, well, hotter than anyone VS has featured.

Seriously, why is she not a VS Angel yet? Perhaps now, with these controversial comments, she simply won’t want to be. Though if Victoria’s Secret really wants to correct their horrible mistake, they’ll hire her ASAP.

In the meantime, we’ll be following the model, producer, and activist on Instagram for more #TransIsBeautiful photos.


Read: The Trailer for Life-Size 2 Just Dropped and It’s Full of Latina Magic

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