VS Fashion Show 2018: A Celebration of Beauty and Diversity
The famed and heavily anticipated Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is finally back in New York City! Filled with some of the world’s most influential and iconic models, it’s the “It Girl” of fashion shows. People dream about strutting down the runway, clad in the legendary lingerie and angel wings. This year, there are a ton of new faces hitting the scene, including Winnie Harlow, the America’s Next Top Model alum who’s taken the model world by storm.
When she’s not doing campaigns for elite brands like Swarovski, she can be seen hanging with celebrities like Drake and Tommy Hilfiger. She even attended the 2018 Met Gala with the latter. To say Winnie Harlow is a force to be reckoned with is an understatement; her status as a Victoria’s Secret angel is only going to propel her further. However, her rise to fashion fame doesn’t come unscathed. In 2016, Harlow took a jab at fellow Top Model alum and Victoria’s Secret co-model, Duckie Thot, in a shady snapchat post.
““LMFAO! WHAT ARE THOOOOOSEEEEE cauliflower ass head,” she wrote, paired with a picture of South Sudan born, Duckie Thot’s, natural tresses.
Harlow was, rightfully, slammed. She later apologized for the comment, alleging she apologized to Thot on the phone, and it was meant to be a lighthearted joke, as she also has natural hair, and has dealt with similar problems.
She was not lying. The 24-year-old model, who’s face is perfectly symmetrical, was bullied as a child for having vitiligo. It’s a skin condition characterized by a loss of pigment or melanin in certain areas of the body. She’s talked extensively about being called “zebra” and “cow” by classmates and peers. She’s also supported body positive and self-esteem movements, encouraging her followers and supporters to love themselves unconditionally.
In the cut throat world of fashion, having this self-esteem is unequivocally important. It’s this self-esteem that’s allowed her to make such a statement in the fashion industry. Surprisingly, Harlow claims ANTM didn’t catapult her into stardom. Photographer Nick Knight saw her photos online and wanted to do a shoot. The rest is history. The twentysomething beauty has been on covers ranging from Glamour to Cosmopolitan and has modeled for the likes of Hilfiger and Diesel.
In an industry that’s lacked diversity for years, seeing a Black woman with vitiligo strut down the runway in angel wings is a beautiful sight. This year, the fashion show is particularly diverse, hosting an array of models of color, darker-skinned models, and models with natural hair. This racially diverse cast comes in direct contrast with the vitriolic comments Victoria’s Secret chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, made in reference to transgender and plus-size women being models in the show.
“I think we just need to keep focused on taking steps forward,” Harlow said of the controversy. “In life, we’re always gonna take steps forward, and then, sometimes, we take steps back. It’s the same thing with diversity and color and all these types of things. We have to keep on making these steps to move forward for diversity.”
And we do. Diversity and representation matter immensely. Having models that don’t conform to European beauty standards is monumental. Having Asian models, Black models, and models with vitiligo is a beautiful start. But that’s just it—the beginning. So, as Winnie Harlow becomes the first model with vitiligo to hit the Victoria’s Secret stage, let’s toast to not only the diversity that’s begun but also to all the beautiful strides to come!
Cover image via Vogue