What the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show could look like with inclusivity

On Monday night, 51 of the industry’s most sought-after models strutted down the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway, touted as the most beautiful women in the world.

But who decides what makes them the most beautiful?

With so many gorgeous, diverse working models, it’s a wonder that every model on the 2016 Victoria’s Secret catwalk fits into one, classic mold of conventional beauty.

It’s time to call out Victoria’s Secret’s inclusivity problem. There are so many types of beautiful that deserve representation on the VS runway curve, people with disabilities, transgender and gender non-conforming models have worked tirelessly to redefine common beauty standards, and those efforts deserve recognition.

Mashable interviewed six models of diverse identities, asking them how they really feel about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Here’s what they said:

Olivia Campbell

Image: olivia campbell/stormy sloane

Olivia Campbell is a plus-size model based in London. Signed under Bridge Models, Olivia has seen commercial success on and off the catwalk. She has appeared in Black Beauty and Hair magazine, and modeled for fDearCurves, Meloncup Swimwear and Belvia Shapewear. She is widely recognizable from the powerful interview she did with StyleLikeU where she proudly says “I’m not curvy, I’m fat.”

Mashable: What are your thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

Campbell: To me the VS fashion show is an iconic moment in the fashion calendar. It’s sexy, opulent and always extravagant but sadly often lacking true diversity whether that be size, ability or race! I’d like to see more of all forms of diversity on the VS runway.

Do you feel excluded by the show?

I feel more excluded by VS’ lack of larger sizes in general. I popped into a store last time I was in NY and they don’t even make bras vaguely near my UK 34HH bust,though it is extremely frustrating that there is still no size diversity in the VS Fashion Show at all. It is just completely unrepresentative of such a vast number of women.

What would it mean to see a curve model on the VSFS runway?

It would mean a huge deal to myself and I’m sure my fans would agree. To have visibility and representation is hugely important, so to see a larger model on the catwalk would be incredible. I don’t think I know a model plus-size or otherwise who wouldn’t jump at the chance to walk in the VS show!

Her message to Victoria’s Secret:

VS Throw us some curves for 2017 *pretty please*

Shaholly Ayers

Image: shaholly ayers/Pete Mui

Despite being born missing her right arm under her elbow, Shaholly Ayers has built an impressive modeling career. Featured in Nordstrom, GQ Italia, GQ Japan and even walking in the last three seasons of Mercedes-Benzs prestigious New York Fashion Week, Ayers proves over and over again that she has what it takes to be a top model. Beyond modeling, Ayers is a Brand Ambassador for the consulting firm, Global Disability Inclusion, LLC.

Mashable: How do you feel about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

Ayers: I love Victoria’s Secret from their products to their show. The VS Fashion Shows are like the Super Bowl to me, I look forward to them every year!

Do you feel excluded by the show?

I would not say that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is unique in their absence of disabled models. There is a lack of disability across the industry in general, which is why as a disabled model and Brand Ambassador for Global Disability Inclusion, I aim to help change that.

What would it mean to see a disabled model on the runway?

I think all of VS fans would be blown away! I think it would incite a lot of excitement and rejoicing by advancing the beauty standards. Now is the time to start using models with disabilities.

Would you want to do the show yourself?

I must admit that becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel has been a dream of mine for a very long time! I would love to not only walk for VS’ Fashion Show, but also model their lingerie and bikinis. Once youve become a Victoria Secret model you know have made it in the industry.

Her message to Victoria’s Secret:

I see Victoria’s Secret as a leader in many ways. They offered an alternative to the waif thin models years ago by using models with curves.They also hired Tyra Banks as their first black VS model I know that they have the courage and fortitude to break beauty boundaries once again by becoming even more inclusive. I will be right here waiting for their phone call!

Isis King

Image: isis King

Isis King is a model, designer, and one of the most recognizable trans women on television. Competing on both the eleventh and seventeenth cycles of America’s Next Top Model, King has been sharing her story on television for nearly a decade. She continued to break boundaries by becoming the first transgender person to model for American Apparel, and was recently showcased on Oxygen’s new Docu-Series Strut.

Mashable: What are your thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

King: I have always loved the V.S. Fashion Show. My original dream in high-school and design college was to get a chance to join their design team! That was before I transitioned and became a top model, beyond my wildest dream.

What would it mean to see a trans model in the show?

I think it will just show progression like seeing more women of color on the runway, and now seeing more natural hair! I just recently shaved my hair off, so for me and others it is showing that natural features can be sexy. Progression. I want to see trans women on runways not as a token, but as the amazing models with amazing walks that many of us have.

Would you want to be in the show yourself?

If ever given the chance I would bring the spirit of Tyra and Naomi with me. Seeing them on the VS show as a teen is what inspired me to unleash my now powerful signature walk.

Her message to the public:

No matter what [the show] inspires me as a designer and model, and always has. When I used to train girls to walk, I used to encourage them to study the VS show for fierce reference. It’s the fantasy show we have always loved and respected!

Joby Bach

Image: joby bach

Joby Bach is a plus size model from Montreal, Canada. Besides her success modeling on magazine covers like RNG and multiple Plus Model magazines, Bach is a proud mother to a 9-year-old son. Joby says her main goal is “to help round and big women with their self-esteem and above all else, make them proud of their curves.”

Mashable: What are your thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

Bach: I think the show is amazing. It’s a great platform for women; it’s just a pity that they don’t represent all women with their concept.

Do you feel excluded by the show?

Being excluded feels like they do not acknowledge that beauty comes in all shape and size and I think they need to change that.

What would it mean to see a curve model on the VSFS runway?

It would mean the world to me and my fans, It would be refreshing if they pick me for the show next year But they can also pick a lot more plus-models like Hunter McGrady or Brittany Blair.

Anything you’d like to say to the public?

I believe that if you focus on the positive things, you will also accept that beauty comes in all shapesand sizes. It’s not the body that matters, it’s the personality, and companies need to change their promotion to a more body positive approach.

Rain Dove

A photo posted by Rain Dove (@raindovemodel) on Jun 7, 2016 at 1:26pm PDT

Rain Dove is a model, actor, and activist breaking binary gender laws. She has appeared in a multitude of fashion magazines like Details and Elle, and was the most-booked androgynous model during New Yorks inaugural Mens Fashion Week. Last year, the model participated in a groundbreaking piece with Elle challenging the beauty standards set by the VSFS.

Mashable: What are your thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

Dove: When I see the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show I see two things. First, it claims that it shows “The Most Beautiful Women on Earth.” Yet it is not vastlydiverse in size, age, skin tone, sexuality or even hair length. I respect that Victoria’s Secret (as an indecent and private business)has the right to define “beauty” as they see fit but at the same time it concerns me that since they are so widely seen on the planet that many people see this as fact. Not opinion. That can be very damaging to people’s self esteem and worldly outlook.

The second thing I see is human culture. The show is a flamboyant sparkling dizzying array of art and expression. It should be celebrated as an accomplishment of our humanness. At the same time, it is also very exploitative and can heavily influence other people’s perceptions of what “sexy” is to an extent that they feel ugly or hold other people in their life to be ugly.

Do you feel excluded by the show?

When I see the show I don’t see me. Part of the beauty of Victoria’s Secret modeling is that they are called “Angels” for a reason. Because they’re aesthetics are supposed to be unobtainable.

But so are mine. No one could ever be me. Look exactly as I do. Be exactly as I am.

What would it mean to see an androgynous, or a gender non-conforming model on the VS runway?

It would mean that Victoria’s Secret and mainstream media has moved beyond the body as a marketable element and moved into intention being the marketable element. That’s the future of sales looking at wallets and needs instead of looking at how people should be living to enjoy these products.It would be fabulous. When a brand says “our product is great and we think it’ll be great for anyone that loves it too” that’s the ultimate marketing message.

Would you want to do the show yourself?

I would of course be interested in doing their show if it meant having the opportunity to exhibit another type of “beautiful human.”

Her message to the public:

VS’ opinion on “TheMost Beautiful Women on Earth” is not THE OPINION. It’s not my opinion. And it not necessarilythe opinion of the person or people who may one day fall in love or lustwith you. The VS ANGELS are beautiful, but so are you. We don’t need to shame them for their looks as an unrealistic standard of beauty anymore then we need to be shared for our quirks. To be existing at all is beautiful simply because of how complicated and unexplainable being alive really is.

Jillian Mercado

A photo posted by Jillian Mercado (@jilly_peppa) on Nov 21, 2016 at 10:08am PST

Jillian Mercado has made a splash in the modeling industry, Muscular Dystrophy and all. Starring in Diesel’s 2014 “rebels” campaign, Mercado was thrust into the spotlight, becoming one of the industry’s most in-demand disabled models. Recently, she was featured on Beyonc (yes, THAT Beyonc)’s website modeling her latest “Formation” merchandise. Mercado was also featured in Tommy Hilfiger’s “Runway of Dreams” Gala event.

Mashable: What are your thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

Mercado: I grew up watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show every year with my mother, so it definitely brings back great memories. It’s one-of-a-kind because it brings music and fashion together in mainstream media. I especially love when they take you backstage and you see the making of the Victoria’s Secret angel wings – so much art goes into that.

Do you feel excluded by the show?

I feel that, generally speaking, there’s a lack of diversity everywhere. Thankfully, we have agencies like IMG who want to change the game and slowly introduce designers and casting directors to including more diversity in the fashion industry. Looking at all of the models that were on the runway this year for VS, there was so much more diversity than I believe I’ve ever seen before because of the array of different skin tones and ethnicities shown. Of course, we should never stop working on diversity in the runway show and It’s something that’s going to take time and hard work, but slowly but surely we are getting there.

What would it mean to see a disabled model on the Victoria’s Secret runway?
It would be fantastic! I would absolutely love for [the brand] to one day include someone who has a disability in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which is seen by millions of people across the nation.

Would you want to do the show yourself?

Of course! I would be lying if I said that it didn’t cross my mind.

Her message to VS:

I think it’s wonderful that we have a fashion show that is seen on the cable network showing models from various parts of the world! Yes, we do need to work as an industry to include more diversity of – not only skin tones – but sizes, disabilities and gender. I do, although, have a great feeling that soon enough this won’t be an issue.

Justine LeGault

Justine LeGault is a curve model represented by Muse Models in NYC. She studied filmmaking and screenplay writing, but after life kept bringing her in front of the camera, LeGault decided to pursue modeling. She has been featured in Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel campaign, covered magazines like Clin d’Oeil, and was featured in H&M’s Spring 2016 campaign. She describes herself as a “self-acceptance warrior,” and focuses her work on self-esteem, authenticity and self-acceptance.

What are your thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

I do like a good show! I love the energy on the runway, and I’m quite the music lover so I do like watching it since they always mix both. I also like that yougetto know the girls and their differentpersonalities it brings a fun approach to fashion.

Do you feel excluded by the show?

I dont feelexcluded, I just don’t feel like the brand is talking to me. Its like if I’d watch a men’s fashion show, I’d appreciate it but know that what they sellisnt necessarilyfor me. So I don’t look into it. And thats too bad because I’m sure a lot of curvy women would love tobe invited to the partyand be able to buy/ fit theirproducts.

What would it mean to see a curve model on the Victoria’s Secret runway?

Ipersonally love curves; I think it would make the show even more beautiful!! To see different shapes, and as much (if not more!) confidence and sass. It would only make the show better if you ask me.

Would you want to do the show yourself?

To be honest, I dontknow. Because if the VS show is a celebration of femininity and a womans body and curves, then every type of women and bodies should be represented. I just wish VS would take this opportunity to celebrate every womens types of beauty.

Her message to the public:

What makes you sexy is your confidence. Its knowing your essence and stand tall in it. It was never about fitting a certain size.

These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/06/diverse-models-interview-victorias-secret-fashion-show/