The Real Catwalk Takes Over Streets of NYC to Promote Body Positivity and Self-Love for All

BY MIA MONTALVO

This past weekend, in light of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, models walked in Times Square to celebrate their abundant diversities.

 PHOTO: Holly Grace Jamili /  Instagram

PHOTO: Holly Grace Jamili / Instagram

Established in 1995, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show originated as a platform for the famous brand to market its ever-growing line of lingerie to women. Known for its elaborate designs and dazzling angel wings, it seems as almost every famous model has graced the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show runway. From icons such as Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum to current moguls Kendall Jenner and the Hadid sisters, the show has become a major keystone in the fashion world. Despite Victoria's Secret's prominence and initiative to celebrate women, it has received a multitude of backlash for not celebrating the diversity of all women.

Victoria's Secret's brand is simple: incredibly long legs, a thin waist, and being able-bodied. For years, the multi-million dollar company has been marketing the same supermodel standard in its lingerie. In recent commentary, Victoria Secret's CEO, Jan Singer, was unapologetic about the lack of diversity in their show. The dearth of plus-sized models, transgender women, and disabled women came into question before the company's CEO stepped down. Only days before this resignation, Victoria's Secret Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek was questioned about his responses in an interview with Vogue.

If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have. We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes (in 2000). No one had any interest in it, still don’t.
— Raznek told Vogue

This past Saturday, on December 1st, individuals of all genders, colors, shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities came together to walk a runway of their own in Times Square. The event was titled, "The Real Catwalk" and fittingly took place a day before the Victoria's Secret Fashion show aired on CBS Television Network. While The Real Catwalk didn't have national attention, it was live streamed on social media and drew large crowds and many smiles upon passerbys.

The Real Catwalk marked itself as an initiative that was created to promote body positivity and reinvent the conventional standards of beauty. The show was a solid response to the lack of diversity at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, but it was not a protest. Instead, it served as a reminder that there is a place for everyone in fashion and acted as encouragement to feel confident in the body you are in.

"Celebrating one type of beauty that's very Euro-centric…it becomes difficult to exercise confidence," the organizer behind The Real Catwalk, Khrystyana Kazakova told the New York Post. "If a Victoria's Secret model wants to walk The Real Catwalk, it would be awesome." Kazakova, who is only 33, has hosted this show before in both London and New York. Many people, including Kazakova herself, explained that watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show makes them feel discouraged about their bodies. While the casting process for Victoria's Secret Angels is intense, The Real Catwalk invited anyone who wished to join -- defining its incredibly inclusive and uplifting nature.

Brands such as King Size, Swimsuits For All, Roaman's, and Woman Within donated much of the attire, and were able to market their own lingerie in a way that is less likely to be seen within the landscape of plus-size attire.

Through and through, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show will still be watched by millions. Yet, thanks to Kazakova and the growing support of real women and men who wish for their voices to be heard, The Real Catwalk unfolded in the heart of New York City. The Real Catwalk clearly served as a reminder that everyone deserves a place to feel loved and confident about who they are.

"Every one of us is on our own individual path of self-love and self-expression, and I am happy that this platform that we collectively created serves as a safe space and home for us to just be, celebrate our being," Kazakova wrote on her Instagram as a close to the show.

Lead Image Credit: Geraldine Hessler / Instagram