by Chelsea Cabral, Staff Writer
Zuri Tibby, 21, has become the newest face of Victoria’s Secret’s trendy PINK collection, becoming the brand’s first-ever black spokesmodel in their fourteen year history.
Marking a significant step forward for the company, the Florida native joins Rachel Hilbert as the ambassador for PINK, the subsidiary brand of Victoria’s Secret targeted towards those aged 18-22.
Both women join the lineup of former PINK spokesmodels like Miranda Kerr, Behati Prinsloo, and Elsa Hosk, who have earned their wings and went on to become Victoria’s Secret Angels.
Tibby was first scouted in a West Palm Beach mall when she was only fifteen. From then on, she has modeled for the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Thom Browne, appearing in shoots for several magazines such as Teen Vogue, Elle UK, Interview, and Cosmopolitan.
She was even cast alongside Rihanna in an advertisement shoot for her line of Stance socks.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Tibby recounts her longtime dreams of becoming a Victoria’s Secret model. “It feels really amazing,” she says. “Joining such an amazing brand is such an honor. It’s really cool to see everything coming together in my career.”
While her induction as a spokesmodel for the brand highlights a path of diversity and fair representation for women of color in the fashion industry, Tibby hopes that her presence in the public eye casts her as a reliable role model for other young Black girls.
“I think it’s time for diversity,” she says, referencing the significance of representation in fashion. “A lot of young girls look at PINK and shop there and see someone and [think], ‘Oh, that looks like me,’ and ‘Oh, I have the same hair as her.’”
She continues, “It’s so important to inspire people. When young girls look at magazines and advertisements, it’s important to see girls that look like them. It’s very encouraging.”
According to The Fashion Spot’s seasonal report on diversity, 21.8 percent of models featured in Spring 2016 season’s various ad campaigns were women of color, which was a vast improvement over previous seasons.
Of all models that walked during Fall 2016’s New York Fashion Week, 31.9 percent were non-white.
Though also being a role model for women of color, Tibby stands as a strong advocate for natural beauty, alongside other vocal proponents for the same idea, like Zendaya, Gabrielle Union, and Alicia Keys.
Tibby especially supports models using natural hair both on and off the runway, and would like to see natural hair grace the runway more often.
Large fashion corporations have been slow to welcome diversity, but Victoria’s Secret has made noticeable strides including Angolan model Maria Borges, making history last year by being the first model of color to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway sporting her natural hair.
Gabriella Albernaz, a junior Political Science major was glad to hear about Victoria’s Secret’s choice to welcome Zuri Tibby to the world of its PINK collection as their main spokesmodel.
“It’s opening doors for WOC (women of color) to be able to be hired in the industry for more serious, high paying work” she says. “It’s also changing the norm for what the media displays as the ideal woman.”
Victoria’s Secret’s PINK has been around since 2002 and has since taken a long and steady road in terms of diversifying its casted models.
However, this time, change all around is apparent, since along with Zuri Tibby’s hire, PINK has also brought on other WOC, such as Filipina model Janine Tugonon and South African model Cheyenne Depree in their newest #CollegeLife campaign.
“Having WOC present for a very dominant, leading company is changing the mindset for industry workers and casting directors but also how average WOC view the company,” Albernaz theorizes.
Victoria’s Secret’s keen attempt to come around to try and battle a “white-washed” fashion industry is long overdue. They are now trying to dismantle society’s rigid standards on beauty and reveal that beauty comes in every shape, size and color.