Victoria’s Secret China Ambassador Sparks Discussion on Changing Beauty Norms

Supporters say the choice of not-particularly-curvy actor Zhou Dongyu is a welcome departure from the lingerie label’s usual nonrepresentative models and spokeswomen.

Promotional images from Victoria’s Secret’s ad campaign featuring brand ambassador Zhou Dongyu. From @VictoriasSecret维多利亚的秘密 on Weibo

Victoria’s Secret has named actor Zhou Dongyu as its newest brand ambassador, prompting discussion in China about whether the American lingerie retailer has lost touch with its image, or whether it is simply aiming to reshape outmoded notions of feminine beauty.

On Monday, the company announced its cooperation with the 28-year-old film star, “a new and vibrant face to reinterpret the definition of sexiness.” Zhou is perhaps best-known for her roles in acclaimed director Zhang Yimou’s 2010 feature film “Under the Hawthorn Tree,” the 2016 romance film “Soul Mate,” and the wildly popular 2019 teen drama “Better Days.”

“I’m not ‘sexy’ as conventionally defined — not like this,” Zhou said in a promotional video, her hand tracing an hourglass figure in the air. “I define sexiness as being comfortable, nonconformist, and expressing (oneself) in a natural state. It should be we who define sexiness, not we who are defined.”

“What is your definition of sexiness? Victoria’s Secret invites you to break the traditional definition together, and correct the term using a variety of perspectives,” reads a description below a related hashtag on microblogging platform Weibo.

Most of the online chatter over the new partnership has been positive, with many saying they appreciate how Victoria’s Secret is attempting to expand the conventional understanding of “sexy.”

“We should see more diversity,” one Weibo user commented under a related post. “It’s not just women such as supermodels who can represent underwear. (Pop star Rihanna’s lingerie label) Savage × Fenty’s ads have also used many models with different body types and skin colors.”  Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.