Victoria’s Secret has been a brand of contention in recent years for its alleged toxic culture. Many who once worked with the brand spoke out against the lingerie company, including Bella Hadid, a former Angel and one of the biggest modern faces of the brand. But it’s been announced today that the model will be returning to the brand as one of its newest ambassadors—and she feels confident about its new direction.
“It has been a few years since I’ve done anything with Victoria’s Secret,” Hadid said in a new interview with Marie Claire. “What magnetized me to coming back was them coming to me and really proving to me that, behind the scenes, Victoria’s Secret has changed so drastically,” said Hadid.
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She joins nine other members—including Hailey Bieber, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Naomi Osaka—to serve as part of the brand’s new VS Collective, a group of “trailblazing” ambassadors committed to championing the brand and promoting greater diversity and inclusion. “There was a type of way that, I think, a lot of us women who used to work with Victoria’s Secret felt. And now, six of the seven [VS] board members are all female. And there’s new photoshoot protocols that we have. So a lot has changed.”
She continued, “I feel like the world really deserves a brand like Victoria’s Secret and to also feel represented by it as well.”
Hadid served as a Victoria’s Secret Angel from 2016 to 2018. She finally stepped down in 2020 and was among the several models to come forward to report sexual misconduct by Ed Razek, the now-former top executive of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands.
“It took me almost a year and a half to take the meeting with them. Even having that conversation was very complicated for me because of the way that I had felt in the past,” Hadid also said in the interview. “But they came to me with a big presentation about everything that they’ve changed, the way that they’re moving forward with not only body diversity, but diversity of women in general. … Once I sat down with them and had multiple meetings, they were able to prove to me that there are real protocols that are being put in order and put in line to make the best possible environment for us.”
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For Hadid, it was never about taking down a company, but ensuring safety for women in the spaces she was part of. She sees much promise in the brand moving forward. “I think the beauty of what Victoria’s Secret is as a collective is about the conversation,” said Hadid. “When we sit on set, we’re just grateful for how we feel supported now, instead of how we used to feel, when it was a lingerie company that used to be run by men for men. … I just look around and I feel empowered again. I feel empowered in lingerie, instead of feeling like my body is some sort of money maker.”
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US