Why The Latest Move From Victoria’s Secret to be More Body Positive is a Fail

Victoria’s Secret could do better when it comes to body positivity.

Their latest move in using size-14 model Ali Tate Cutler to front their campaign with Bluebella has caused uproar on many fronts.

Let’s recap the back story…

It’s no secret that the company is trying to make up for past major missteps including discriminatory remarks made by former L Brands chief marketing officer Ed Razek to Vogue Magazine in 2018, where he blatantly said that Victoria’s Secret had zero interest in casting transgender and plus size models in its fashion shows.

At the time where body positivity has become mainstream and on the heels of the very diverse Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Fall 2019 fashion show, Victoria’s Secret seems to be scrambling to keep up with, not only the competition such as newcomer ThirdLove, but the industry.

To quote Nicole Phelps, the author of that 2018 Vogue interview with Razek and executive vice president of public relations at VS, Monica Mitro:

“Victoria’s Secret gets credit for being a conversation starter, but the brand is not part of the evolving discussion around size diversity now. Nineteen new faces will walk this year’s show [2018], and none of them remotely approach plus-size, or curve, to use the new parlance. In many ways, the discussion around Victoria’s Secret is not about who it’s letting in, but who it’s still keeping out.”

However, while Victoria’s Secret may have perceived using Cutler would be a positive move in the right direction of redemption, it has backfired.

First of all, we want to point out that this is not a size issue; it’s a body positivity fail.

Victoria’s Secret offers up to a size 16 in panties, sleepwear and lingerie. Their bras are available in up to size 40DDD and that’s not ALL styles.

So them using a size-14 model is actually a major move for them. We hope it pushes them to go further and use a size-16 model.

Previously, they have used size-6 model Barbra Palvin and size-12 model Lorena Duran, so Cutler is the largest model they have ever used.

While we may not consider Palvin and Duran plus size, in Victoria’s Secret’s world, they are larger than their usual size-0 model.

BUT… the major fail lies in who Bluebella chose for this campaign and to Victoria’s Secret for going ahead and using her in the campaign.

Cutler, who considers herself a body activist, said back in 2016:

“Being obese is simply bad for the environment, and in this day and age, we cannot afford that lack of empathy anymore.”

Here’s the entire comment Cutler made in response to a post by blogger Alysse Dalessandro-Santiago, where she was discussing an article from titled “11 Reasons Your ‘Concern’ for Fat People’s Health Isn’t Helping Anyone.

Fast forward three years later, Cutler is now embracing the term ‘plus size’ and in a recent Instagram post, even called herself FAT.

Confusing, much? Seems as if Cutler is doing damage control on her end.

When you become a model, you take on responsibility just as anyone in a public profession does. You become a brand.

And if you are working as a plus size model but then saying you think fat people are destroying the environment, you are essentially alienating the very people that you are promoting to, via your work. And the company looks bad as well.

If you’re calling yourself body positive and then blaming a segment of people for destroying the environment simply because of their body size, you are not truly body positive. And the brand certainly doesn’t look body positive either.

This is not just a call to Victoria’s Secret but a valuable lesson that every brand can learn from.

If you want to show more body positivity and diversity, you cannot look at size alone. You must vet the model, do your research and determine if the entire package meets those requirements.

If Bluebella had done its research and Victoria’s Secret questioned Bluebella on why they wanted to use Cutler, instead of just jumping on the opportunity because of her size, we wouldn’t even be discussing this.

Listen, while Victoria’s Secret is making an effort to include more curvier models, it’s apparent that more research is needed on their end before making any future moves that venture into plus size territory. To reference a recent survey conducted by Simply Be, which we reported last week:

81% of women think brands are just ‘ticking a box’ when they feature curvy models, failing to show a broad enough range of diversity in their advertising campaigns.

81% is a huge number and one to not ignore. And that’s just women in the UK!

With that said, there are PLENTY of plus size models out there who are within the Victoria’s Secret size range and represent a body positive brand. Here’s 13 we’d like to mention:

Fluvia Lacerda@fluvialacerda

Liris Crosse – @lirisc

Tabria Majors – @tabriamajors

Kayla-Jane Jones – @itskaylajane

Laura Lee – @misslauraleej

Jihan Amer – @jihanamer

Philomena Kwao – @philomenakwao

Ariel A. Pierre Louis – @couvertier_louis

Erica Lauren – @theericalauren

Halle Deneen – @halledeneen

Devorah Story – @devorahstory

Taylee – @curvy_model_tay_

Leslie Sidora – @lessance

So these models that are the total body positive package are out there… brands just need to seek them out.

As for Cutler, Teen Vogue reached out to her for comment, after contacting Alysse Dalessandro-Santiago about Cutler’s comment. This is what she said:

As you can see, no apology was given and this was the perfect opportunity for her to do so and save face.

Thus far, major media outlets Refinery29 and Perez Hilton have also written about Cutler and her derogatory comments about fat/plus size people.

It may be a little too late for Cutler but for Victoria’s Secret? Who knows? Size expansion, anyone?

We shall see how this unfolds.

What do you think of Victoria’s Secret and their choice to use model Ali Tate Cutler as the plus size face of the new Bluebella campaign? Follow us on social media @plusmodelmag and let us know! Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter