Pop star Halsey openly called out Victoria’s Secret on Instagram just weeks after she performed at the lingerie giant’s famed fashion show. Halsey spoke out in the response to offensive comments made by the company’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek in an interview with Vogue magazine.
The interviewer questioned whether Victoria’s Secret would include plus-size and transgender models in their shows, to which Razek responded, “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? 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. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us.”
The comments sparked immediate outrage, and Razek released a hasty apology on Twitter, writing “To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings … And like many others, they didn’t make it … But it was never about gender.”
Halsey posted a thoughtful response to Instagram. The singer, who is openly bisexual, said she was originally excited to perform at the show, writing “I have adored the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show since I was young. Performing this year alongside other amazing artists, and hardworking models/friends was supposed to be the best night of my year.”
She continued, “However, after I filmed the performance, some comments were made regarding the show that I simply cannot ignore. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity. Especially not one motivated by stereotype.” She then references GLSEN, an organization that champions LGBTQ youth, to which she made a “sizable donation”.
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Halsey ended the post by saying, “If you are a trans person reading this, and these comments have made you feel alienated or invalidated please know that you have allies. We stand in solidarity, and complete and total acceptance is the only ‘fantasy’ that I support.” Halsey wasn’t alone in her condemnation of the remarks. Competing lingerie company ThirdLove took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling out Razek and the company:
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New York Times Sunday, full page letter from @heidi to @victoriassecret – Dear Victoria’s Secret, I was appalled when I saw the demeaning comments about women your Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue last week. As hard as it is to believe, he said the following: “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? 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.” I’ve read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I’m even angrier. How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company — let alone one that claims to be for women — make such shocking, derogatory statements? You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women. But at ThirdLove, we think beyond, as you said, a “42-minute entertainment special.” Your show may be a “fantasy” but we live in reality. Our reality is that women wear bras in real life as they go to work, breastfeed their children, play sports, care for ailing parents, and serve their country. Haven’t we moved beyond outdated ideas of femininity and gender roles? It’s time to stop telling women what makes them sexy — let us decide. We’re done with pretending certain sizes don’t exist or aren’t important enough to serve. And please stop insisting that inclusivity is a trend. I founded ThirdLove five years ago because it was time to create a better option. ThirdLove is the antithesis of Victoria’s Secret. We believe the future is building a brand for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This shouldn’t be seen as groundbreaking, it should be the norm. Let’s listen to women. Let’s respect their intelligence. Let’s exceed their expectations. Let women define themselves. As you said Ed, “We’re nobody’s ThirdLove, we’re their first love.” We are flattered for the mention, but let me be clear: we may not have been a woman’s first love but we will be her last. To all women everywhere, we see you, and we hear you. Your reality is enough. To each, her own. -Heidi @heidi
Victoria’s Secret is part of an older, decaying idea of what “sexy” should be, an idea designed and marketed to men despite what women buyers want and need. Like the malls they inhabit, VS is a symbol of times past, and needs to catch up to inclusivity and openness or go extinct.
(via People, image: BRIDGET BENNETT/AFP/Getty Images)
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