Fighting for Diverse Lingerie Models

Victoria's Secret model Jessica White (John Parra/Getty Images)
Victoria's Secret model Jessica White (John Parra/Getty Images)

When consumers see lingerie ads, do they realize that the dearth of diversity that exists among other mainstream fashion designers and marketers rears its ugly head in the undergarment industry, too? According to Lingerie Addict blogger Cora Harrington, the conversation surrounding representation of women of color in the lingerie world has been reduced to whether women with bra sizes above a C cup can see themselves among advertisers like Victoria's Secret. Harrington says the discussion should continue to be about featuring more women of color and of different ages, as well as disabled women.

We live in a world where children as young as 5 have already internalized the message that black is ugly and white is pretty. We live in a world where fashion magazines regularly lighten the skin of women of color. We live in a world where, when asked why they didn't use more models of color, brands respond with, "Well, we couldn't find any good ones."

Even worse, we live in a world where women of color are afraid of bringing up these issues lest we be dismissed by the very industry we seek to be a part of.

In my own life, I've been told that I'm "pretty for a dark skinned girl." I've been told that I'm "too dark to date." I've been told that I'd be prettier if only I was "less black." And, though I think we can all agree that there is something seriously wrong with those kinds of statements, that messaging is constantly being reinforced by the industry at large. It's reinforced every time a lingerie company refuses to cast–or even consider–a model of color. It's reinforced every time a lingerie brand is praised and awarded for their diversity in using fuller-figured women but gets no comments at all on the fact their models that look the same in every other respect.

It's reinforced every time I get a snippy remark from someone who insists I don't know what it's like to be ignored by the lingerie industry because I happen to wear a C cup.


Read Cora Harrington's entire piece at the Lingerie Addict.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.