As someone who appreciates the artistry involved in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, I know the looks are no easy feat. But when that artistry is at the expense of another culture? Probably not the best idea.
Victoria's Secret has a long, embarrassing history of cultural appropriation at its yearly shows. And at this year's runway show in Shanghai, the brand demonstrated that it really hasn't learned its lesson yet.
The 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show featured a section that ripped off tribal elements AGAIN.
This isn't Victoria's Secret's first time down this road. In 2010, their "Wild Things" segment was very culturally vague. They covered dancers and models in tattoos and animal print, with a dance routine no doubt. It also featured many more models of color than in the other segments of the show.
It's unknown what exactly this 2017 segment is titled, but it's definitely pulling from Maasai tribal necklaces. The Maasai tribe resides mostly in Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania. White models like Candice Swanepoel wore "tribal" looks, but the issues didn't stop there.
Once again, the brand has exotified their models of color in an attempt to "celebrate" various cultures.
With models of color being few and far between in the industry, it's great to see Victoria's Secret embracing them. Also great to see a move towards natural hair on the VS runway. But if the majority of your models of colors are turned into "tribal queens" just to walk on the runway... I'm not sure if that's the best idea.
Some models wore a version of the Maasai necklaces and matching robes too.
WHAT. IS. HAPPENING. HERE. Victoria's Secret either went for a "tribal" look without caring what "tribe" they were referencing, or they deliberately took these elements and stripped them of their cultural meaning. Either way, it's bad.
It's unclear if any of the models are actually part of the Maasai tribe, but it's definitely not the majority of those that walked the runway.
Victoria's Secret needs to realize that models of color and their cultures aren't interchangeable.
The models of color represent a range of nationalities, so it's off-putting to simply throw them into tribal necklaces and call it a day.
Although we'll have to wait and see HOW Victoria's Secret plans to portray the segment when the show airs on November 28th, it's currently looking a little grim. Hopefully the brand will stop repurposing exhausted themes and propping their models of color in this way.