Ahead of the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show’s filming, people were psyched that this year would be its most racially diverse on record, with more models of color expected to walk than ever before.
What that signified too is that there was a very high chance that natural hair would make a big statement yet again. Since Maria Borges became the first VS model to rock natural hair at the fashion show in 2015, more and more women have done the same, like Jourdana Phillips, who Mic spoke to before she joined the record number of models who decided to follow in Borges’ footsteps and rock their natural hair at the show in Shanghai this year.
“I think it’s super important to have natural hair at the show,” Phillips told Mic before the VS show filming last week. “They see how successful Maria [Borges] has been and to join the party now is so great. We want people coming in different sizes and shapes and a diverse range of women of color. We want girls that everyone can identify with. I’m hoping there’s girls who will be like, ‘Oh that looks like me!’”
Indeed, at the show, which airs on Tuesday at 10 p.m. Eastern on CBS, there were more models with natural hair than ever before, with Phillips and Borges joined by models like Samile Bermannelli, Alecia Morais, Grace Bol, Herieth Paul, Aiden Curtiss and Amilna Estevao, who all wore their hair short and curly for the show.
“It’s such an amazing and monumental experience,” Phillips said. “Not only are you doing the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but one of the most diverse ones. It’s historic. Because of Victoria Secret’s huge influence, it will no doubt influence other brands and the images out there of women of color.”
For Phillips, getting cast for this second show felt like a huge moment, partially because just years ago, she thought about giving up modeling entirely.
“I had been in the industry a little bit. But I took a break and then I went to school, graduated a year and a half ago, and I was like, ‘OK, let’s give modeling one more shot, one more chance,” Phillips said. “My first time modeling, it wasn’t as successful as I wanted it to be, so to get this show for a second time now, I’m just really thankful. I’m really thankful to come back and feel like I’m coming stronger and this dream of mine wasn’t this pipe dream. It’s actually coming true for me.”
To be working with a brand that is embracing black women and their beauty in this way feels monumental to Phillips, too.
“I think now we’re understanding collectively as a society that there are whole, huge parts of the population that aren’t being catered to, that aren’t being marketed towards positively,” Phillips said. “The population is growing and the minorities are becoming the majority. It’s inevitable that you have to cater to them. I want to buy from brands that have me in it. More people of color have money to buy amazing things, and we should be acknowledged and be treated as equal buyers.”
“I want to buy from brands that have me in it.”
However, Phillips does recognize that although VS has made an effort to include more black women and nonwhite women in its fashion show, there is still a total lack of plus-size or even curve women on that VS runway. One day soon she hopes that will change.
“There’s so many different-sized women who are shopping for Victoria’s Secret,” Phillips said. “It’s no longer this sample size. We’re appreciating girls and valuing and seeing the beauty in girls who are all shapes and sizes. I do hope to see it, and I’m sure we’ll see whether it’s Victoria’s Secret or whatever brand who does it first.”
With many different models currently calling on Victoria’s Secret to consider this, perhaps this change will come sooner than we think.