The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show airs tonight. In the last month the brand has come under intense scrutiny, after the brand’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek gave a controversial interview. Asked by Nicole Phelps at Vogue.com about including plus and trans models, Razek said that “transexuals” didn’t fit into the Victoria’s Secret “fantasy.” He walked back his comments, telling ELLE.com, “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. Honestly, I really hope that a transgender model will make the show soon. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
As expected—especially in the post #MeToo-era and an ever growing body positivity movement—Razek’s initial comment (and subsequent retraction) did not go over well. So how will the show be perceived tonight?
Ahead of the taping and Razek’s interview, I chatted with Behati Prinsloo at her fitting. Set to make her return after taking two years off, we discussed everything from how it feels to be back on the runway to how VS and its show fits in the changing lingerie market.
We’re in the midst of a major body positivity movement. Where do you think Victoria’s Secret fits in to that?
I think Victoria’s Secret embodies a lot of things. There’s a lot of talk about everything but I think people need to also understand that it’s a show. It’s not saying negative or positive about any body type, it’s ‘this is who they are.’ We’re strong, we’re confident, and I think any woman is a Victoria’s Secret woman. But people also need to understand that it’s just a show. I don’t think that it says that they’re not for a certain type of body. It’s cool to talk about it and great to open up a conversation and so much good has happened. I think it’s a show. Let’s just have fun and not make it about anything and just have a great night and celebrate everyone.
Sure. It’s not okay to shame your body either.
Yeah that’s the thing. We’ve all got a body, nobody looks the same. It’s tough, it’s a hard thing to do because there’s always two sides and I’m just trying to, you know, live my best life.
This is your tenth—would’ve been twelfth—show. How does it feel to be back? Are you nervous?
I am super excited to be back. I keep saying it but it’s such a tight family and then you don’t see each other for almost three years. And then you come back and it’s so amazing. I just love everyone so much and it’s such a blessing to be still part of it. And to have my friends in it. I’m excited Candace is going to be in it too, Lilly is pregnant so we’re sad but excited or her. [Laughs]. But yeah, I’m very excited to be back.
I just saw a model put her wings on for the first time and she started crying. What was it like for you?
I think 2009 was actually the first time I got wings. And it was a huge deal, I remember I was still doing only Pink, and I got the Pink wings and it was like, the biggest thing ever. I was so excited. It’s such a moment and then I forgot when it was when I got my first VS set of wings and I cried. You’re just so overwhelmed because you’re so in it and then you finally see what you’re wearing and it’s a good moment.
Now that you’re back, when you’re about to hit that runway for the first time, what are you going to tell yourself before you hit that runway?
I’m always like ‘don’t fall, don’t be nervous, just have fun.’ Yeah, I think I’m definitely going to be probably al little bit more nervous this year. I don’t know why I already feel butterflies. I have a really long skirt or actually like a cape thing and I’m just scared at the end that I’m going to trip over it…but I won’t.
If you could go back to angel baby Behati what piece of advice would you give her?
I would just be like, ‘It’s going to be okay, girl. It’s going to be good. Don’t worry. You’re going to do ten more shows, don’t stress.’ I think just…I’ve always lived in the moment and I don’t think I would change anything if I could go back. Because I…everything that’s happened in my life…it all happens for a reason and I feel very blessed and just excited to be part of it again. So I think I’d tell my younger self to just chill out. ‘You’ll be good.’