The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show strikes a chord for many when it comes to its limiting standards of beauty. Since the show’s inception, the models who receive the opportunity to walk down its runway have generally looked the same, from their voluminous waves to their stick-thin figures. What about the women who don’t fit into that cookie-cutter box of beauty? We have all watched, hoping the day would come when women who look like us would be represented. This is why it was a major moment when Angolan-born supermodel Maria Borges became the first Black model to walk the runway with her natural hair in 2015. The following year, not one but three models of color with Afro-textured hair walked the show.
And in 2017, Victoria’s Secret cast a record-breaking seven Chinese models to walk the show. So, yes, progress has been made, and 2018’s casting made even more history.
Supermodel Duckie Thot, who has been the face of major campaigns like Fenty Beauty, was picked to walk in the show, and her reaction seriously gives me chills. “Words can’t express how much this means to me, thank you Victoria’s Secret for the opportunity of a lifetime,” she tweeted with an accompanying video of her jumping up and down with joy.
This video, which she also posted on Instagram, has since gone viral. Her over one million Instagram followers and over 100,000 Twitter followers are praising her and Victoria’s Secret for this major milestone. On a personal level, to see a self-made supermodel like Thot achieve this accomplishment truly hits home for me.
VS didn’t stop there. Supermodel and America’s Next Top Model alum Winnie Harlow was also chosen as a part of 2018’s cast. According to Elle UK, Harlow is also the first model with the skin condition vitiligo to walk the show. Her emotional caption and tear-jerking video prove just how much this moment means to her and women everywhere.
2018 was a year of many “firsts” for the brand, including casting the first Filipino model, Kelsey Merritt, to ever walk the runway. However, it’s worth shedding light on the fact that in its 22-year reign, Victoria’s Secret has yet to cast a model above a size 6. Model Nadia Aboulhosn, who has starred in campaigns for H&M, Addition Elle, Khloé Kardashian’s Good American, and more, has spoken out about this before. “I think they have a brand image for themselves,” she told Mic. “That’s just what they’ve done for years. I can’t expect everyone to turn a new leaf as quickly as I’d like them to. I love VS, I wear them all the time. I really think with time, they will. Maybe that’s me thinking positive or maybe that’s because I never give up on trying to break down doors.” We can hope that their steps toward more diversity will spark even more inclusion in the years to come, including body diversity.
We’re celebrating this beautiful moment, though, that showcases a casting of women who come from an array of ethnic backgrounds. Let’s continue this conversation in hopes that we’ll see even more representation in the future. Here are all the models of color who walked in the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.