The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Is Back, But People Are Hesitant To Accept It's New 'Inclusive' Pledge

Can this brand recover from its controversial past?

Victoria's Secret fashion show from 2014 / Shutterstock

There’s no shortage of controversy in fashion, especially when it comes to inclusivity, diversity, and brand image. With iconic houses like Victoria’s Secret having international notoriety for women's lingerie and sexuality, its "angel" models have blurred the line between fantasy and reality.

However, the unrealistic standard ingrained in many minds from the brand's heyday in the '90s also sparked an important debate for our modern sensibilities. Should a brand built on fantasy be held to an arbitrary consumer standard? Is it a clothing brand’s responsibility to ensure size diversity or inclusive advertising? At what point does a brand suffer irredeemably from the controversies, attitudes, and investments of the people running it?


These questions have come to the forefront after Victoria’s Secret announced that its infamous fashion show is making its return.

After a six-year hiatus, Victoria’s Secret has announced the return of its infamous show, pledging it will reflect ‘everything they are’ today.

In social posts from May 15, Victoria’s Secret announced the return of their iconic fashion show. After a six-year hiatus, the brand's return to the runway promises all the best parts of the show, including famous faces and fanfare.

@victoriassecret We’ve read the comments and heard you. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is ✨ BACK ✨ and will reflect who we are today, plus everything you know and love—the glamour, runway, wings, musical entertainment, and more! Stay tuned…it only gets more iconic from here. 🪽 #VSFashionShow ♬ original sound - Victoria’s Secret

RELATED: 7 Unsexy Things Victoria's Secret Employees Won't Tell You


While fans are nostalgically hopeful for the return of musical guests like Taylor Swift and supermodel "wings," critics are equally vocal about the brand’s controversial past. The show, which was welcomed with acclaim and fanfare, began in 1995 but was canceled in 2019, seemingly in response to faltering sales and the need for a marketing rebrand.

Victoria’s Secret built a name for itself on fantasy and sex appeal, but as beauty standards changed and evolved, the lingerie powerhouse failed to adapt. Beyond simply refusing to accept modern ideals and sensibilities, the brand's parent company was exposed for what the New York Times called, a "pervasive toxic culture," including sexual harassment and misogyny.

From reinforcing harmful beauty standards to encouraging transphobia, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and fashion brand deserved criticism and backlash.

Ed Razek, the former executive of Victoria Secret’s parent company L Brands, came under fire following a 2020 New York Times investigative expose revealing testimonies from both leadership within the company and models citing sexual harassment and misogyny.

“What was most alarming to me, as someone who was always raised as an independent woman, was just how ingrained this behavior was,” Casey Crowe Taylor, a former public relations employee at Victoria’s Secret, told the outlet. “This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing. And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn’t just ignored. They were punished.”


Victoria's Secret models. S_bukley / Shutterstock

However, Razek’s infamous marketing strategies — explicitly said to be crafting “a fantasy” — seemed to only reflect his own ideals. From statements insisting the show would never include transgender models or women larger than a size 8, Razek painted the picture of his own traditionalist attraction — something he’d later prove to be irresponsible with. 

Creators like Domonique Mogdis on TikTok shared that it took years to realize the harmful consequences the show had on her womanhood through the idolization of a standard of beauty that was unattainable.

@kevsucks14 I swear somedays this app just makes me feel like we are taking 10 steps back as a society 😵‍💫 #victoriassecret #plussizefashion #inclusivesizing #inclusivefashion #victoriassecretangels ♬ original sound - Dominique Mogdis

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“Watching the newer Fashion Shows and seeing all of the different body types, all of the beautiful women — it was very empowering to see,” she added about Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Fashion Show in 2019. “It helped with the downfall of Victoria’s Secret. It proved that you can be extremely beautiful and sexy no matter the size you are. Why is that so hard for people to understand?"

So, while Victoria’s Secret is attempting to launch a new era of inclusivity, with social feeds full of diverse women and pledges for a “representative” fashion show, it all feels too little, too late for those advocating for change.


While the new Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show promises a new era of inclusivity, many are hesitant to celebrate its return in the name of 'hypocrisy.’

Especially considering their controversial past, riddled with homophobia, fatphobia, and questionable celebrity connections, many consumers are disappointed by Victoria’s Secret’s recent attempts at “inclusivity.” Its “rebrand,” including diverse plus-size models, isn't reflected in its brick-and-mortar stores, often lambasted over limited sizing and inventory.

Rihanna posing on Red Carpet. Andrea Raffin /

Real advocacy and inclusivity for clothing brands go far beyond advertising, fashion shows, and social media posts. It’s about expanding size ranges, ensuring access to quality, and setting fair prices. Brands like Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty not only prove that but are flourishing because of it.


Still, there are plenty of fans who want Victoria’s Secret to bring back “the old image” of the show and brand — the harmful, toxic, and discriminatory one. They argue that not every brand needs to be inclusive, and maybe that's true. However, consumers and sales have the final say, and Victoria's Secret's investment in a more forward-thinking vision of beauty means sales are reflecting what customers want. Customers want to see themselves in ads and on runways, and they want to walk into stores and buy off the rack.

RELATED: A Woman Says She's Hugely Disappointed In The New Victoria's Secret Runway Show — 'The Angels Were The Epitome Of What Beauty Was'

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.