To say we have issues with Victoria’s Secret would be an understatement. The lingerie brand we grew up with has been repeatedly slow to do some growing up of its own in recent years, ignoring an increasingly inclusive fashion industry, and justifying their reluctant to adapt by saying certain models—including plus and trans women—just don’t fit the “fantasy” they’re trying to sell.
Obviously, that doesn’t quite jive with our credo here at The Glow Up (and don’t @ me about it, because it’s non-negotiable), but we do celebrate the wins of black women on their own terms. With that in mind, in spite of the brand’s recent shortcomings, we couldn’t help but be pleased to hear that longtime VS model Leomie Anderson is the latest to land a coveted “Angel” contract with the legacy lingerie brand.
Anderson, a Brit who has walked in four VS lingerie shows, is now the 15th “Angel” for the brand, joining fellow black Angels Jasmine Tookes and Lais Ribeiro, and following in the feathered footsteps of former Angels Tyra Banks, Selita Ebanks, and Chanel Iman.
If it doesn’t sound like there’s been a lot of blackness in the years since the first Angels were put under contract in 1996, there hasn’t. While the annual runway show has shown a refreshing uptick in ethnic diversity in recent years, of the 40 models who have received the title (including supermodels Banks, Giselle Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Helena Christensen and Karlie Kloss), only the six aforementioned models have been black. And strictly from a representational standpoint, it’s worth noting that Anderson appears to be the darkest-skinned Angel to date. (Also notable: to the best of our knowledge, there has yet to be an Asian Angel.)
And what does it mean to be an Angel, exactly? Aside from being the only models allowed to be called by the moniker and wear the iconic wings in the annual show, as Cosmopolitan explained in 2017, Angels “have obligations to fulfill with the brand, meaning they have to be on call for photo shoots, appearances, and parties for VS throughout the year.”
But the most important part is that Anderson has landed what many (many) models consider a career milestone, and is rightfully thrilled by the accomplishment. We’re therefore thrilled for her, too.