The Victoria Secret Fashion show is a common victim of accusations stating it lacks diversity. This lack of diversity’s’ apparentness is seen through race, colour, body shape, ability, and gender. As much of the fashion industry embraces transgender models, Victoria Secret continues to neglect them. Transgender models have been previewed across a variety of high fashion stages, “Lea T is Riccardo Tisci’s muse, Andreja Pejić closed Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2013 show, and Carrera walked for Carmen Marc Valvo Spring 2015,” (J. Andrews 2015). The Victoria Secret Fashion Show supports a hyper-feminine image and female gender identity, ignores the male identity, and discriminates all others.
Gender Identity is referred to as one’s internal sense of being male, female, neither, both, or another gender (Milestone and Meyer, pg. 13). For the transgender community, this means the sex they were assigned at birth does not correlate with their internal sense of gender identity (H. Baba 2016). There is a pervasive pattern of discrimination and prejudice against transgendered people within society, and there exists a social climate that isolates people for not conforming to society’s gender norms (Journal of Homosexuality 2005, pg. 53). These gender norms are enforced widely through popular culture. Victoria Secret is a part of modern day popular culture; it is produced for the masses and favoured by many. Another example of a popular culture icon in our society is Carmen Carrera. Carmen has been featured in Elle magazine and walked in the prestigious Life Ball runway show, a resume that shares similar features with multiple other Victoria Secret Fashion Show models. The difference between Carmen Carrera and other Victoria Secret models is that she identifies as a transgender model. Carmen has yet to achieve her dream to walk in the Victoria Secret Fashion show and is currently fighting the gender barrier enforced by Victoria Secret, “I’m hoping that everyone’s open to giving me a biological female role and the fact that I’m trans is not an issue,” (Carmen Carrera 2015). Victoria Secret has yet to enlist a transgender model for any one of the multiple Fashion Shows or campaigns (J. Andrews 2013). Society as issued a willingness for change as Carmen has received a tremendous amount of support from the community through her 2013 petition that collected over 50,000 signatures; “I want to do this for the 50,000 people who signed the petition on Change.org” (Carmen Carrera 2013).
Over 10 million people viewed the Victoria Secret Fashion show as it aired on TV this year alone (Adams 2015). Many of those people were most likely adolescents struggling with their internal sense of gender identity. Unfortunately, the media produced by the Victoria Secret Fashion show only reinforces gendered-attitudes. Victoria Secret is effectively stating through the discriminatory process that a transgender female is not good enough for the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, “By asking Carmen to be a model, Victoria’s Secret would show the entire community that they embrace trans patrons. There are so many prejudices toward the trans community, even within the LGBT community, and many trans individuals are not seen as real people. To see a transgender model walk would show that trans women are to be taken seriously, and that Angels are selected because of their character and talent. As a brand, Victoria’s Secret should feel comfortable marketing towards all types of women,” (Regalado, 2013). The Victoria Secret Fashion Show has such an enduring impact on young women; the message it is sending is not representative of race, body shape, size and gender identity widely accepted today. Victoria’s Secret continues to trail behind in the fight for change. “I’ve been training so hard; I want to do my runway walk in my lingerie. That’s my dream, and I won’t ever stop until I make that happen. For me, that would be huge for all those people that supported me” (Carmen Carrera 2014). Victoria Secret is enforcing the stigma surrounding transgender women not equating to women born female. Rates of attempted suicide among transgender people are a staggering 32% due to gender-based discrimination and victimization. Victoria Secrets target audience is the female population; it is time Victoria Secret makes an effort to recognize that the female population is also inclusive of transgender women. This lingerie company has been given an opportunity to use their platform to accept different forms of gender identity.
Victoria Secret has every right to cast strictly female born models that lack diversity and fit a firm set of criteria. They have no legal obligation to accept a transgender model into their ranks on the whim of a petition. Many girls that exceed the standards set out by Victoria Secret are often turned away because of the intense competition in securing a spot amongst the most popular fashion show in the world. The messages the show endorses are reached by hundreds of millions of easily influenced adolescents. The negative impact of the Victoria Secret Fashion show is cast upon generations as it glorifies the hyper-feminine image. The ability that Victoria Secret has to combat the negative views towards transgender people in society should be put to use. It all starts with casting one transgender model.
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