Diversity Is Sexy: Meet The 23 Models Representing Inclusivity At The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2018
The iconic lingerie brand might still have a long way to go before becoming a representative of women of all shapes, sizes, and colors (and even sexual orientations), though including more and more models of differing racial backgrounds in its annual fashion show is a strong start.
In the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show's 23-year-long history, only its 2017 production spurred meaningful discussions on representation on the catwalk. Before that, the brand was mostly silent about and uninvolved in issues reshaping the global fashion industry, including hiring non-white and/or plus-size models for the event.
Advocates of fashion as a tool to spread positive messages continued to push the brand to make changes in its lineup, and just last year, a record-breaking 50 percent of its models who walked the hotly anticipated fashion show came from Asian, Hispanic, or African backgrounds. (There were still no plus-size models though, and a campaign for the show to cast its very first transgender model went without notice).
It's speculated that the significant increase was caused by the event being staged in Shanghai, the first Asian city where Victoria's Secret held its beloved fashion show in.
This year, while the show is coming home to its birthplace in New York City, it will still be highlighting models from diverse backgrounds. Many hope for racial diversity to become part and parcel of the brand's ethos and a springboard for more inclusivity intiatives to be accomplished, but for now, we celebrate one milestone at a time.
Meet the beauties modeling more than just sexiness on the runway:
We begin with our very own Kelsey Merritt, the history-making lass and Metro.Style cover girl who'll be the first Filipina model to ever walk the Victoria's Secret runway alongside the brand's most recognizable faces. Though one-half American, the 22-year-old says she has always related more to her Filipino identity.
As a daughter of South Sudanese immigrants who sought refuge in Australia, Duckie's success in the fashion industry is even more impactful. She breaks boundaries by just being who she is, and her pride in her deep, velvety, skin tone? It's made her a Fenty Beauty favorite, too.
Winnie knows that the most noticeable thing about her is her skin; she was born with vitiligo, a condition that causes skin to lose its pigment in patches. Her unique look hasn't stopped her from excelling at modeling, and this year marks her debut as a Victoria's Secret model.
Cheyenne Maya Carty
Arguably, the British beauty's choice of wearing her naturally bouncy curls is one of her best assets. It might be thought of as just a hairstyle, but when you learn of models with African heritages drastically changing the hair they were born with to conform to European standards of beauty in order to make it in fashion, it becomes way more meaningful.
Alongside her statuesque figure and charming appeal, Iesha's most famous feature is her tooth-gapped smile. It's definitely one that sets her apart from the crowd.
Melie could be the very definition of multi-cultural at Victoria's Secret. She was born in West Africa, has roots in the Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Guinea, France, and Italy, but raised in the Big Apple.
Hello, Havana! Josie's Cuban heritage from her dad's side will be on full display on the runway.
After two years, Shanina—born to parents of Lithuanian, Pakistani, and Saudi Arabian descent—will finally make her Victoria's Secret debut. Just look at those striking eyes!
She hails from China, but her resume is international. Having worked with luxury brands Burberry, Dior, and MaxMara to say the least, Victoria's Secret is simply one of the many fashion powerhouses clamoring to cast her.
They say that growing up in a multi-cultural household and living in a foreign country can make a person more well-rounded. If that's the case, Australian and Indian beauty Kelly Gale who grew up in Sweden has gotten the best slice of the holistic development cake!
Cindy was one of the first models who proved that the Victoria's Secret catwalk dreams of other women of color could come true. The Italian-Congolese bombshell is a mainstay at this fashion show, with 2018 marking her sixth year.
After being discovered in a mall at the age of 15, Zuri has since used her career to help fellow African-American women make a mark in fashion. She became the first-ever black spokesperson for Victoria's Secret PINK two years ago.
More than just promoting diversity in fashion by being a black model, she's a role model for women who wish to be more than a pretty face (and that should be all women, really!). She's given TED talks, runs her own clothing company which she founded herself, and often speaks publicly about the need to support marginalized communities, shun damaging political views, and the importance of managing one's finances.
Jourdana made waves when she acknowledged that Victoria's Secret and other fashion brands for women were influencing them negatively. In particular, she had a bone to pick with how beauty was represented and how that impacted women of color. She explained how she supported brands that young girls and women like her could look up to when they see models whose physical features they could relate to.
And she's back for a second year in a row! This Chinese model first became part of Victoria's Secret Shanghai show and did such an amazing job that it got her a callback for this year's production.
Tanzanian-born, but Canadian-raised, Herieth's rise to the top has been quick and phenomenal. She's a favorite face of brands like Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Armani, and Lacoste.
African-American Alanna Arrington is a role model for athletic girls. It's really no longer a prerequisite to be girly, dainty, and adhere to the obsolete definitions of femininty to become a model. As a former athelete who still makes healthy living a big part of her life, Alanna proves that sporty can be sexy, too.
Born and raised in Portugal, Isilda's creamy, coffee-toned skin is an asset—not a deterrent.
The porcelain-skinned lass is a Victoria's Secret veteran who showed other Asian beauties that it was possible for them to leave their mark in fashion.
The fact that Sabah has been picked up by modeling agencies in Sydney, Milan, London, Paris, and New York is enough proof that her South Sudanese and Australian cultural combo is a hit.
As the daughter of Katoucha Niane, Aiden is pretty much fashion royalty. Just like her mom, she constantly shines the spotlight on her Senegalese roots.
As the third South Sudanese stunner to walk the 2018 Victoria's Secret fashion show, she and her sisters are onto something—diversity is something worth showing off.
Nigeria represent! Moyowa is finally getting her chance to walk in the Victoria's Secret runway after being denied a visa to travel to Shanghai last year.
Photos from @winnieharlow @duckieofficial @hesui923 @kelseymerritt