The singer performed in their annual fashion show, but she has since spoken out about the brand’s treatment of trans people.
Victoria’s Secret isn’t generally renowned for its inclusivity.
The annual runway show is an ode to a very specific kind of body with very few exceptions. The brand prides itself on celebrating a very narrow, restricted image: no plus-size or disabled models have ever walked the Victoria’s Secret catwalk. In 2017, Victoria’s Secret crowed that it had cast a “record” number of Chinese models. That number was seven.
Even so, when the company’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek spoke to Vogue about the business’ vision of their runway shows and said that they wouldn’t cast transgender models in the show, his words were particularly shocking. “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should,” Razek told Vogue. “Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.”
Razek later apologised, clarifying that: “To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model in our show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it… But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
But the damage was already done. If you are not straight-sized and straight-orienting, Razek’s words said, this brand is not for you.
Well, Halsey isn’t here for that line of thinking. The singer was one of the performers drafted into the lineup of artists who appeared on the Victoria’s Secret runway this year, alongside Shawn Mendes, Rita Ora and The Chainsmokers, which was recorded in November before Razek’s comments were published in Vogue.
Today, as the show aired on television across the US, the singer announced that she has made a “sizable donation” to a LGBTQ charity in solidary with the community in light of Razek’s comments.
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity, especially not one motivated by stereotype,” Halsey wrote on Instagram. Despite growing up loving the Victoria’s Secret show, she felt moved to support GLSEN, a charity that supports LGBTQ+ youth, after reading Razek’s damaging words.
“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.”
Hear hear, Halsey!