Victoria’s Secret features plus-size, transwoman models for campaign with UK brand Bluebella

Rappler.com
Victoria’s Secret features plus-size, transwoman models for campaign with UK brand Bluebella
The brand is trying to keep up with the times with efforts to be more inclusive

MANILA, Philippines – Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie company that has long been criticized for its lack of body diversity in its campaigns, has featured a plus-size woman and a transwoman in a new campaign – though it took a collaboration with another brand for it to happen.

The brand’s collaboration with UK-based lingerie brand Bluebella features plus-size model Ali Tate-Cutler, and transgender model May Simón Lifschitz. It also features Kenyan model Olivia Sang, who has spoken out agains colorism in the fashion industry, and biracial model Laura Rakhmann-Kidd.

Sharing a photo from the campaign on Instagram, Ali wrote “I believe I’m the first size 14 on [Victoria’s Secret]?”

“Regardless I’m pretty stoked to work with a brand I idolized when I was a teen. Great step in the right direction for bodies,” she said.

Victoria’s Secret posted more photos from the campaign on their own Instagram page, simply saying in the caption of one group shot: “The bold and the beautiful.”

Bluebella called the campaign the “LoveYourself” campaign, geared towards inclusion and body diversity. On its Instagram page, the brand highlighted the models’ stories.

Sharing a photo of May, the brand said that she started transitioning when she was 16 years old.

View this post on Instagram

#LoveYourself. May says 'I feel the most sensual when I'm alone, when I'm not performing, and when I catch myself not being in control.' May began the process of transitioning when she was 16 and is one of the four gorgeous women featured in our LoveYourself campaign, all about self-love. She describes her body as 'Brave'. We also interviewed her, in collaboration with @StyleLikeU, about sensuality and what it means to her and her body. Swipe up on our Insta Stories for more. (@itmaybemay) #loveyourself #stylelikeu #collaboration #collab #selflove #strength #may #campaign #inspiring #interview #amazing #women #stories #personal #transgender #model #intimate #redefining #sensuality #body #positivity #empowerment #brave #sensual

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In a video also posted by Bluebella, May spoke of how she initially sought validation from other people, and being happy to “pass” as a cisgender woman.

“There was a long period of time where I didn’t feel sensual, and I was just very much focused on being sexy and performing. For me my femininity was to be proven all the time, and to be experienced, and it was not experienced by a male partner then I felt that it was non-existent,” she said.

“It was very much because of my partner that I saw myself reflected as a person and not just a gender. He fell in love with the part of me that I disguised the most. I’m completely at peace with never being cisgender. I don’t need to try idenitfying as anything else but trans,” she added.

View this post on Instagram

Our #LoveYourself campaign is all about empowerment and self-love. With that in mind we wanted to work with models who have something to say, bringing their own voices to the discussion and making a statement on body positivity and the radical power of self-acceptance . We collaborated with mother-daughter duo @StyleLikeU – who are renowned for their intimate interview series – to help capture these stories. Meet May (@itmaybemay). Transgender model May Simón Lifschitz described how, growing up, she didn't feel comfortable with the expectations she experienced that belonged to her body. She began hormones aged 16 and made the decision to transition to the woman she is today. May says 'Love Yourself…Unconditionally. In every moment – just because.' Read more about our campaign via our Insta Stories. #loveyourself #stylelikeu #collaboration #collab #selflove #strength #duo #campaign #inspiring #interview #amazing #women #stories #personal #transgender #model #intimate #redefining #sensuality #body #positivity #empowerment

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Bluebella also turned the spotlight on Ali, introducing her as “a former professional footballer turned model and body-positive campaigner.”

In a video, Ali spoke about her journey towards body-positivity, which went hand-in-hand with her journey as a model.

“I felt totally insecure, no one is ever gonna find me pretty or cute. I would never talk about fatness. I thought if I don’t say anything about it, then maybe no one will notice. Maybe no one will know that I’m bigger than everyone else,” Ali said.

She then recalled how she began modeling after joining a search for “curvy models.”

“The more and more I started to model and to expose my body, I just started feeling less and less shame about it,” she shared.

Photos from the campaign will be put up in select Victoria’s Secret stores, where Bluebella will be stocked.

The campaign comes after a wave of criticism against Victoria’s Secret apparent lack of diversity. The brand has held an annual runway show, which historically has featured some of the worlds top models including Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima, and more recently, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid.

However, the brand received a wave of criticism after its then chief marketing officer Ed Razek infamously told Vogue in November 2018 that the brand won’t include “transsexuals” in their runway show, “because the show is a fantasy.”

Victoria’s Secret CEO Jan Singer stepped down in November 2018, and Ed also resigned in August 2019.

Since then, Victoria’s Secret has made efforts to be more diverse, featuring its first transgender model Valentina Sampaio in a catalog for its PINK line. – Rappler.com