Trans Women: Not the Victoria’s Secret Fantasy?



Victoria’s Secret CMO Ed Razek faced online scrutiny after some questionable comments about models in runway shows. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Will Brodlo

In a revealing article with Vogue, Victoria’s Secret Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek made many offensive comments, mostly directed towards transgender and curvier women. Given his elevated position, these comments reflect very poorly on the brand. He has since posted a public apology, but should we, as consumers, forget?

In discovering the market that the show caters to, Razek tells Vogue, “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.” The use of the term “transsexual,” a word not applicable to all trans folk, shows his flippancy.

Razek misguidedly thinks trans women and curvy models cannot be included in the “fantasy” that is the Victoria’s Secret show. He is denying the brand’s body-positive and transgender consumers, as well as those in support of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Since this interview has transpired, Razek has resigned from his position at Victoria’s Secret. The backlash from his statements has sparked online warfare, pitting angry consumers who refuse to support the brand against users who expressed agreement with Ed Razek’s statement.

YouTube influencer, model and trans activist Giselle Loren Lazzarato (known online as Gigi Gorgeous) released a video entitled “SHAME ON YOU Victoria’s Secret,” expressing her sadness for previously supporting the brand and how Victoria’s Secret was a huge part of her personal transition. Gigi is one of the many transgender women hurt by Razek’s statements.

Following Razek’s resignation from Victoria’s Secret, he formally released a public statement on his Twitter, stating: “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize.

To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the 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.”

Unfortunately, his apology did not include remorse towards his comments on “plus-sized” women, and he has since privated his Twitter account, showing his true feelings to all lingerie consumers.

As Victoria’s Secret has had issues with inclusivity in the past, Razek’s stubborn dismissiveness of a more diverse casting speaks volumes about the company’s ideals.

Up-and-coming brands such as Savage X Fenty by Rihanna and Third Love have been praised for their more competitive prices and diversified models.

Savage X Fenty recently had model Slick Woods walk down the runway pregnant, embracing beauty in all its shapes and forms with its much larger range of sizing, showing how the brand embraces beauty in all shapes and sizes.

In response to Vogue interviewer Nicole Phelps bringing up Slick Woods’ appearance in Savage X Fenty’s show, Razek said that if Victoria’s Secret tried to have a pregnant model, it would be considered “pandering” and seem insincere. This comment was way out of line for Razek and was extremely close-minded, denying another group of consumers from buying Victoria’s Secret products.

Expecting Victoria’s Secret to modernize in the future, the online realm is watching the brand with a closer eye.

In the brand’s most recent show, bisexual singers Halsey and Rita Ora performed and represented a possibly changing tide in the world of Victoria’s Secret. This progressive step is acknowledged but may be overshadowed by these recent offensive remarks.

With Razek’s comments, the Victoria’s Secret team had to battle major backlash and has yet to release a public statement from the brand as a whole.
In next year’s show, I would love to see trans and curvier angels. Models like Ashley Graham, who are body-positive and beautiful, deserve the same opportunities as any other model. Society is shifting away from the traditional mold of “perfection” and recognizes the importance of all types of representation.

Measurements and gender-identity hold a very different influence in our modernity, in contrast to the modeling world of the past, and it is time we see models like Graham and trans women gain their wings.

Victoria’s Secret, it’s now or never. Show the world how to change and progress, or get out.


Will Brodlo, FCRH ’22, is a journalism major from Chicago, Illinois.