Model brings natural hair to Victoria Secret runway

Lauren Craddock, Staff Writer

As millions tune in to watch some of the hottest supermodels walk across the runway in Victoria’s Secret’s Fashion Show on Dec. 8, Angolan supermodel Maria Borges will be setting an example as an advocate for natural beauty and confidence. Contrary to the big, bouncy blowouts that usually grace the highly anticipated lingerie show, Borges redefines what it means to be sexy, sporting her short, natural,
curly hair.

This was Borges’ third time walking in the show. This year, the 23-year-old model decided to take a leap of confidence requesting to grace the runway baring her afro and was elated to find that the idea was taken so positively.

Borges tweeted, “Are you ready for the 2015 @VictoriasSecret fashion show?! I’ll be rocking my Afro hair this year for THE show!”

Thousands commented on social media about the embracing of natural hair that Borges is bringing to light.

“I just saw this picture today and it brought tears to my eyes,” @lifebeautyelle wrote to Borges on Instagram, “Thank you so much for showing young girls that we can be anything we want, but most importantly be ourselves.”

As the first Victoria’s Secret Angel to go au natural with her hair, Borges has freed millions of girls, particularly of color, that often hide their natural curls. Black hair has been a topic of conversation for years because of the media’s standard look of straight, European-textured hair on runways and in magazines. With the absence of examples of naturally curly haired girls in modern media, many young girls lack confidence in their naturally
curly hair.

Borges being the first Angel to walk for the lingerie company with natural hair is proof in itself of the lack of diversity on the runway and in the media. Reasons as to why it took until 2015 for this moment of fashion history to take place tend to stem from the media commonly ignoring natural hair in their definition of beauty.

In 2009, Chris Rock released a documentary titled “Good Hair” that looked into the black hair industry and why black culture has put such an emphasis altering natural curls, afros and waves. The film revealed the desire to have European straight hair as a means of fitting in with privileged white culture. Just earlier this year, Dove released a video campaign encouraging others to show love for their curls in order to set an example for young girls to learn to find beauty in their natural dos.

It is only in recent years that more of the media is preaching to wholeheartedly be oneself from head to toe. This significant moment in fashion is one of multiple in which public figures of color are embracing their natural beauty. Earlier this year, actress and singer Zendaya Coleman released her own Barbie doll sporting dreadlocks — an act of standing up for herself and for a culture of black hair. Sesame Street also promoted loving natural hair by releasing a video of a curly haired muppet singing “I Love My Hair” in 2010.

Maria Borges’ embracing of her naturally short, curly hair is just one step in allowing for natural curly and wavy hair to be considered just as beautiful.

A version of this article appeared in the Dec. 7 print edition. Email Lauren Craddock at [email protected].