The Victoria’s Secret “Fantasy”

Victoria’s Secret held their annual fashion show in New York just this past Thursday. The day of the taping, published an interview with CMO of L Brands, Ed Razek and EVP of Public Relations for VS, Monica Mitro.

In this interview, Ed Razek was asked,

I want to talk about the Instagram generation. I assume you have lots of data; do you see a shifting desire or shifting needs? Are they looking for something new from Victoria’s Secret?

And Razek answered,

… It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. 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, including the competitors that are carping at us.

This comment gained immediate attention, and sparked intense criticism of not only Razek, but the VS brand.

We know that models have had concerns about Victoria’s Secret, particularly with respect to lack of diversity and inclusion for a long time, and I think these comments really just added fuel to the fire,” said Sara Ziff, a former model and founder of the advocacy group The Model Alliance. “I think his comments were revealing.”

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Jocelyn Ratzer, a VS customer service rep, explained how she felt when she heard what Razek had said about trans and plus-size models in the show,

I was incredibly uncomfortable,” she told The Daily Beast. “I felt like I was in a compromising position to be working in a place that didn’t want somebody like me representing their brand, or somebody like my trans allies.

The Daily Beast also reported that hundreds of women were shocked, disappointed, and furious at the remark made by Razek, using the hashtag “Boycott Victoria’s Secret”. Former VS models took to social media to speak about trans rights, and the Deputy Editor for Fashionista took to Twitter saying:

Razek apologized the following night via Twitter, but the damage had already been done.

People from both outside and inside the industry have been speaking out ever since, with hundreds of trans and plus-size women posting pictures of themselves in lingerie, throwing out their VS bras and letting VS know they’ve lost yet another loyal customer.

After quitting her job at VS, Jocelyn Ratzer posted this picture and caption to Twitter:

Adding in her interview with The Daily Beast,

“I was fighting with my heart and my head thinking, ‘I really need a job right now, but is it worth it to work for a company that puts out these kinds of statements?… And for me it wasn’t.”

The justified outrage and consequential social media backlash from loyal customers of Victoria’s Secret is something writer’s for the web should take note of. The nature of today’s social media allows anyone with an account and internet access to put their opinion of your personal brand out there for the world to see.

Your public image as a writer can be destroyed by one interview, with one tweet, one comment posted to a Facebook status that upset you. It’s all there for anyone and everyone to see.

As we’ve seen this week with Victoria’s Secret, any misstep made by a person affiliated with your brand can become news in seconds, and tarnish an image that’s been built over decades.

We, as writers for the web, must learn from the mistakes made by others and the havoc they cause in their wake.

You must understand not only your audience, but you must also be constantly aware that your work has the potential to be read by anyone anywhere.

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