Victoria’s Secret Accused of Cultural Appropriation, Designing ‘Racist Lingerie’

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Womenswear brand Victoria’s Secret has been accused of cultural appropriation and of designing “racist” lingerie by a lifestyle editor at Cosmopolitan magazine.

In an article, Helin Jung, executive lifestyle editor at the outlet, criticized what she called the “sexist, patriarchal, mostly white corporation” for its “brazen” perpetuation of “what is clearly cultural appropriation.”

Jung begins her critique by describing the Victoria’s Secret annual fashion show, which kicked off Wednesday in Paris.

“Models dressed in costumes fit for segments called ‘Dark Angel,’ ‘Secret Angel,’ and ‘Bright Night Angels’ stomped down the runway at the Grand Palais, showing off the sculpted results of their life’s work and ‘naturally’ enhanced hair,” Jung wrote.

After detailing the various designers, models, and entertainers showcased at the “multimillion-dollar televised panty parade,” Jung ominously warns, “But look closer and you’ll see that the golden glitter path is paved with unfortunate intentions.”

Jung’s biggest point of contention, apparently, is that while Victoria’s Secret’s appears to celebrate the world’s multicultural beauty through design and fashion, it is actually engaging in the “exploitation of these cultural references.”

“[D]on’t let yourself be hoodwinked by Victoria’s Secret’s brazen attempt to relabel what is clearly cultural appropriation by turning it into a celebration of ‘culture,'” Jung wrote. “The brand and its creative leads shamelessly cherry-picked imagery, breaking apart aesthetic references from wherever they wanted and stitching them back together again. They’re telling us it’s worldliness. It’s not; it’s a hack job.”

Jung rails against Chinese cultural appropriation, writing that “the emblems that stood out most were the ones that came from Asia — specifically China.”

But Jung also acknowledges that Nepalese  jewelry designer Arpana Rayamajhi created most of the work for the segment.

Jung firmly rejects Victoria’s Secret for its seemingly sincere attempt at appreciating the world’s cultures.

“With its positive, pre-emptive spin about globalization and multiculturalism, Victoria’s Secret seems to have anticipated my response,” Jung wrote. “The brand is leading with the notion that we’re all members of the human race, therefore everything belongs to everyone.”


UPDATE: Cosmopolitan appears to have taken down the article, as the link leads to an error message. The article is still available in an archived link here.

Social media users who noticed the article ripped the fashion website for publishing the piece, which accused Victoria Secret of mass cultural appropriation for profit.

Other social media users mocked Cosmopolitan for deleting the article.


Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.