Bras and Undies

Thirdlove Took Out a Full-Page Ad in the NYT to Clap Back at Victoria’s Secret

Tehrene Firman

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Photo: Getty Images/Kovaciclea

This year, any shred of excitement you may have been harboring about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was almost certainly squashed by the company’s CMO Ed Razek. He made jaws drop with some truly shocking and demeaning comments in an incredibly regressive Vogue interview in which he made clear that transgender and plus-size women shouldn’t be part of the “fantasy” strutting that iconic runway. It’s a particularly frustrating stance for the brand since Victoria’s Secret does offer a range of sizes that cater to many different bodies. Alas, very few of the diverse customers the company aims to serve are represented in its brand and marketing strategies, which is apparently a very intentional move. And Heidi Zak—co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove, a bra and underwear company made for every body—isn’t having any of it.

During his interview, Razek tried to take a stab at the inclusive brand, saying “We’re nobody’s third love—we’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning.” Well, Zak had some words to share about this. “We are witnessing firsthand how women have collectively embraced brands that stand for something, that try to make the world a better place, and that focus on inclusivity instead of exclusivity,” Zak tells me. And—as evidenced by a full-page ad in the form of an open letter to Victoria’s Secret in Sunday’s New York Times—she certainly stands for so much.

“I’ve read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I’m even angrier. How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company—let alone one that claims to be for women—make such shocking, derogatory statements? You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women. But at ThirdLove, we think beyond, as you said, a ’42-minute entertainment special,'” Zak writes in the open letter. “Your show may be a ‘fantasy’ but we live in reality. Our reality is that women wear bras in real life as they go to work, breastfeed their children, play sports, care for ailing parents, and serve their country. Haven’t we moved beyond outdated ideas of femininity and gender roles? It’s time to stop telling women what makes them sexy—let us decide.”

 

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New York Times Sunday, full page letter from @heidi to @victoriassecret – Dear Victoria’s Secret, I was appalled when I saw the demeaning comments about women your Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue last week. As hard as it is to believe, he said the following: “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.” I’ve read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I’m even angrier. How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company — let alone one that claims to be for women — make such shocking, derogatory statements? You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women. But at ThirdLove, we think beyond, as you said, a “42-minute entertainment special.” Your show may be a “fantasy” but we live in reality. Our reality is that women wear bras in real life as they go to work, breastfeed their children, play sports, care for ailing parents, and serve their country. Haven’t we moved beyond outdated ideas of femininity and gender roles? It’s time to stop telling women what makes them sexy — let us decide. We’re done with pretending certain sizes don’t exist or aren’t important enough to serve. And please stop insisting that inclusivity is a trend. I founded ThirdLove five years ago because it was time to create a better option. ThirdLove is the antithesis of Victoria’s Secret. We believe the future is building a brand for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This shouldn’t be seen as groundbreaking, it should be the norm. Let’s listen to women. Let’s respect their intelligence. Let’s exceed their expectations. Let women define themselves. As you said Ed, “We’re nobody’s ThirdLove, we’re their first love.” We are flattered for the mention, but let me be clear: we may not have been a woman’s first love but we will be her last. To all women everywhere, we see you, and we hear you. Your reality is enough. To each, her own. -Heidi @heidi

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Zak goes on to say ThirdLove is the “antithesis of Victoria’s Secret” as her company believes “the future is building a brand for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation”—something she says shouldn’t be groundbreaking in 2018. Rather, “it should be the norm.” And that’s why this #girlboss doesn’t feel the need for her brand to be someone’s first love, as Razek put it. She wants it to be their last.

Check out six size-inclusive brands on our love list right now. Or, here’s everything you need to know about Rihanna’s size-inclusive lingerie line.

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