Tyra Banks, Victoria's Secret's first Black model, reacts to rebrand: 'Keep on keepin' on'

·4-min read
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09:  Model Tyra Banks walks the runway at The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at the 69th Regiment Armory November 9, 2005 in New York City.  (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
Tyra Banks walks the runway at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2005. (Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Tyra Banks is giving Victoria's Secret her stamp of approval.

On Thursday, the 47-year-old supermodel shared a throwback from her runway days to react to the lingerie company's rebrand, which was announced this week. Victoria's Secret, in a New York Times article, said it will no longer feature "Angels" and will instead feature a group of women, including Megan Rapinoe, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Valentina Sampaio, Eileen Gu, Paloma Elsesser and more.

"First is hard. First is lonely. But first is necessary. First is crucial so that a door can be opened for others to fit through," Banks wrote. "Within a 10 year span starting in 1995, I was the first Black Victoria's Secret contract model ever. The first Black Victoria’s Secret Cover model. The first Black VS model to do so many other groundbreaking things with the brand — as well as other brands. But after a first, must come a flow of more. A flow of different. A flow of unique. A flow so strong, a flow of so many that we LOSE COUNT."

She continued, "I retired from the runway 16 years ago — and I’m proud that in my lifetime, I’m witnessing a beauty revolution," she wrote. "To the new collective of badass ROLE models, I may have cracked that door open, but y’all are charging through. Keep on keepin’ on until we all LOSE COUNT of how many are breaking through behind you. #LetsLoseCount."

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Banks previously revealed that she faced discrimination while working with VS. “I lost my very first opportunity with Victoria’s Secret,” she told Yahoo Life in 2020. “The hairdresser did not know what to do with my hair. And was spraying water and putting heat and all kinds of stuff, and it was just a frizzy mess. Had no idea what to do with my hair texture. And I get on the set, and they sent me home because my hair looked bad.” She did get another chance, however. “I called my hairdresser the night before, and I said, ‘Can you do my hair?’” she explained. “I wrapped it, slept in that scarf, got in the cab the next morning. Right before I opened the Victoria’s Secret studio door, I took the scarf off and walked in...Cut to 10 years of a contract with them.”

Victoria's Secret's new ambassadors will be known as the VS Collective and their goal is to help usher in a new chapter for the company.

"These extraordinary partners, with their unique backgrounds, interests and passions will collaborate with us to create revolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content, new internal associate programs and rally support for causes vital to women," the company shared on Instagram.

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Each of the women were also featured in separate posts along with background and quotes about why they want to be a part of this project. 

Fans had mixed reactions to the news with some excited about the change and others not sure how to feel.

"I mean don't cancel the fashion show please," one commenter wrote.

"This is kinda disappointing..in order to redefine sexy,you don't need to remove the angels,the wings and the fantasy bras.The thing that everyone was asking about is to include more diversity in your shows," another person said.

"So these are your new Angels? Totally approve!" a fan added.

"Can’t wait to see the amazing ideas you bring to this project," someone continued.

Victoria's Secret also announced the creation of the VS Global Fund for Women's Cancers where they look to donate $5 million annually to individual scientists or research teams that have done work in addressing "racial and gender inequities and unlock new innovations that improve cancer outcomes for all women."

These initiatives come two years after VS ended its once high-profile Victoria's Secret Fashion Show after claims that the brand was not diverse. Earlier this year, the company was praised for its inclusive swimsuit campaign.

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There have also been countless controversies at the company over the years, including in 2014 when they faced backlash following an ad that showed several models with visible ribs and the words "The Perfect Body." Then just last year, longtime L Brands Chairman and CEO Leslie H. Wexner stepped down after his ties with Jeffrey Epstein were scrutinized.

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