Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2016 had three black women rock natural ‘fros
Victoria’s Secret has long been criticized for its lack of diverse models. That criticism must have finally given the powers that be a change of heart, because this year the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show had about 22 percent black models walk the runway. It also had a record-breaking four Asian models in the show. And in what may be one of the more progressive moves, three of the black models walked the show with short, curly ‘fros.
European standards of beauty still reign supreme in the fashion industry. Tall, waif, blonde hair, blue eyes. Those European standards of beauty are as American as apple pie, but they don’t hold up in 2016 (not that they ever did). Today, you can scour the internet — Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram — to see stunning women of color with shapes, hair textures, and skin complexions as diverse as the globe.
Victoria’s Secret finally made an attempt to catch up with modern times after years of criticism for its lack of diversity. This year’s runway show showcased some long overdue color, and we ain’t talking about the clothes. Of the 51 models who walked the Paris show Wednesday, at least seven appear to be black women. Blavity attributed the number of black models to 22 percent of the total, which is good for the lingerie brand considering its history.
The group of diverse black women hail from everywhere from Tanzania, to the U.K., to Houston, Texas. Jasmine Tookes was chosen to wear the luxurious $3 million bra, making her the first black woman in nine years to rock the 450 carats of gemstones. Models Heireth Paul, Jourdana Elizabeth, and Maria Borges even rocked their short curly ‘fros. Natural hair on the runway is almost unheard of. Short natural hair is such a foreign concept to fashion houses that Maria Borges sporting it last year made headline after headline.
VS stepped it up by including four Chinese models this year as well. The first model of Asian descent didn’t walk until 2009. In last year’s show of 44 women on the runway, only 13 were women of color, which is about 30 percent. Of the 12 models who hold the coveted “Angel” status, only two are women of color. It’s slow progress, but progress nonetheless.
The fashion industry’s racism and lack of diversity has always been unacceptable, but in the age of social media, it at least makes it harder for companies to ignore. One tweet can turn into a permanent hashtag about your brand being too white.
Jay Z rapped, “Put some colored girls in the MoMA” in 2011. And it hasn’t stopped being relevant yet. The MoMA represents every industry in America. More black girls. More women of color. There can never be enough.