There are 8 million themes to pick from, so why does Victoria’s Secret constantly use culture?

There are 8 million themes to pick from, so why does Victoria’s Secret constantly use culture?
Model Taylor Hill at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Andy Wong/AP
Model Taylor Hill at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Andy Wong/AP

At the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, you can count on a few things: svelte models in lingerie, billowy waves of highlighted hair, an unimpressive musical performance and outfits that make you think, “Wait. Hold on. Is that cultural appropriation?”

You see, at every show, there are different segments with different themes involving lingerie, extravagant outfits and wings. A few models may come out in outfits that look sporty, followed by models that look like butterflies. But one recurring theme that continuously pops up is basically “culture.”

During this year’s show, which filmed Monday in Shanghai and will air Nov. 28, there was a segment called “Nomadic Adventure” and it had outfits that looked awfully tribal and Native-inspired.

Candice Swanepoel at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Candice Swanepoel at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Alessandra Ambrosio at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Alessandra Ambrosio at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Lais Ribeiro at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Lais Ribeiro at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

This is odd for a number of reasons. One is that VS has gotten slammed for doing this very thing several times before. In 2012, Karlie Kloss was heavily criticized for wearing a large Native American-inspired headdress during the show.

Karlie Kloss at the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Karlie Kloss at the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Evan Agostini/AP

This year, model Nadine Leopold wore a similar outfit, with a headdress that again looks similar to a traditional war bonnet, which is worn in Native American tribes and symbolizes bravery.

Nadine Leopold at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Nadine Leopold at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Just last year, after a slew of uninspired Asian-inspired get-ups went down the runway (one of which had a white model wrapped in a dragon), VS was slammed again.

Elsa Hosk at the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Elsa Hosk at the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Francois Mori/AP
Adriana Lima at the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Adriana Lima at the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

VS was also called out that year for a segment called “Exotic Traveler” that basically had models in beads, jewels and vaguely appropriated prints walking down the runway.

Barbara Fialho at the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Barbara Fialho at the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

This devotion to appropriation is odd too because there are roughly (and we counted) 8 million themes you could choose from that would not hint at cultural appropriation. Like, here are a few:

Flowers

Pajamas

Movies

Sports

The ’20s

’40s pinups

The ’80s

The ’90s

Rihanna through the ages

Beyoncé through the ages

Barbra Streisand through the ages

Madonna through the ages

Cute animals

Pirates that aren’t Johnny Depp

Thanksgiving side dishes

Thanksgiving main dishes

Basically, think of a party theme, and there’s a good chance it’s a theme that could work for the VS show and not offend anyone. Although the other segments during the show appear to be unproblematic, with themes like “Porcelain Angels,” “Millennial Nation,” “Punk Angels” and “Goddesses,” it’s just baffling.

This was a show that was being championed for being the most racially diverse in its history, and yet the brand decided to try the culture card again at this show with mostly white models walking down in outfits unconnected to their own culture.

Alessandra Ambrosio at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Alessandra Ambrosio at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Andy Wong/AP
Taylor Hill at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Taylor Hill at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Between this and the continuing lack of plus, curve and transgender models, it’s a flop.