Victoria’s Secret announced it’s official #WhatIsSexy list, and we’re rolling our eyes for several reasons.
For starters, to me, with a list title as commanding as “What is Sexy,” it gives the connotation that things not represented on the list aren’t sexy. Sure, things may be well-intentioned, but wording matters.
And beyond that, the list lacks diversity across all fronts.
The list primarily features skinny, blonde, white women. With the list toppers being white women who fit into the very cookie-cutter conventional standards of beauty, the list feels predictable and narrow-minded.
Chrissy Teigen, Priyanka Chopra, and Jamie Chung did make the cut, but that’s just about where the diversity ends.
The most glaring misstep of the list? It does not feature even one black woman or man.
This kind of omission is extremely confusing, outdated, and downright unacceptable. We live in a time where cultural appropriation still remains high, yet we’re not going to acknowledge the culture(s) from which our influences come? Seems like we are placing praise in the wrong spots.
Additionally, despite the growing attempts at incorporating natural beauty and diversity in the fashion and modeling worlds, it seems like we are always taking one step forward and two steps back.
Under-representation is still a major issue in our media today, and this list is just another example of how much work still needs to be done.
White feminists are still frequently the poster children of pro-women campaigns. I’m 100% guilty of feeding into it myself. The “white is sexy” rhetoric still dominates the content we consume. Just a few weeks ago, Nivea pulled an ad that literally read “white is purity.” I mean, cmon.
These kinds of issues are indicative of a larger problem: a lack of diversity behind the camera/computer/script/etc.
Of course, a more diverse representation of all races on screen is vital, but to get there we need more diversity in our creators as well. With a new perspective, we could see more inclusive campaigns, as well as have people to voice concerns about insensitive campaigns BEFORE they go live.
I would love to see the day that Nivea and Pepsi-like debacles never happen. I would love to see a list that includes several of the beautiful, powerful black women that are changing the world and our media lens. Let’s work on that.