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Victoria's Secret faces backlash for discrimination

by Courtney Deeren - Managing Editor
Wed, Feb 19th 2020 12:00 pm
Several Victoria's Secret angels pose with their now former boss. Photo Credit: @RStrijdUpdates via Twitter
Several Victoria's Secret angels pose with their now former boss. Photo Credit: @RStrijdUpdates via Twitter

A little over a year after Victoria’s Secret chief marketing officer, Ed Razek made headlines for explaining to Vogue why they would never have plus sized or transgender models, the women’s line has made news yet again. 

In the initial controversy from November 2018, Razek first said transgender people — inaccurately calling them transexuals — shouldn’t be in the annual fashion show because it’s meant to be a fantasy for viewers. 

“Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should,” he said. “Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute.” 

As far as the company’s view on plus sized models, Razek said they tried to put out a special in 2000 and people weren’t interested. He went on in the interview to say people still aren’t interested in that. Les Wexner, the CEO of the brand’s parent company agreed at a conference in Columbus, Ohio, where he said “Nobody goes to a plastic surgeon and says, ‘make me fat.’” 

Nearly a year later, in August 2019 over 100 models signed a petition to make up a contract barring sexual misconduct on the models by photographers and other executives. This would also change the process regarding reporting sexual misconduct, according to Business of Fashion. In that same year Razek resigned from the company due to public criticism. 

Now, February 2020, a New York Times article recently released details about the misogyny faced by many of the Victoria’s Secret models. The name popping up at the top of these allegations is none other than the aforementioned Razek. 

“Ed Razek, for decades one of the top executives at L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, was the subject of repeated complaints about inappropriate conduct,” the Times article reports. “He tried to kiss models. He asked them to sit on his lap. He touched one’s crotch ahead of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret fashion show.” 

Allegedly, once these allegations were made to the chain of command nothing was ever fixed and in fact, one model even faced retaliation. One model, Andi Muise, said Victoria’s Secret had stopped hiring her for its fashion shows after she rebuffed Razek’s advances. 

Wexner allegedly had ties to Jeffery Epstein, though he says he had cut ties with Epstein in 2007. As many know from the case, Epstein would pose as a Victoria’s Secret model recruiter and as a woman, identified as Jane Doe, stated during the court hearing he lured her with his gimmick and at what she thought was her audition to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel — what the models are referred to as — it felt more like a prostitution interview. 

The horrifying stories don’t stop there. A model who was repeatedly harassed by Razek via email, who — after receiving emails asking her to move in with him — turned down a dinner at Razek’s private residence in New York was not asked to walk in the fashion show for the first time in eight years. 

These allegations, though troubling, aren’t surprising in today’s culture. Many think we have made great progress as a society, and while we have made many advancements, we still have a long way to go, particularly when it comes to women’s rights. But, in a country where the president talks about “grabbing women by the p----” are we surprised toxic masculinity is still running rampant? 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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