Karlie Kloss hung up her Victoria’s Secret wings nearly four years ago, and she’s finally opening up about the reason why. In an interview with British Vogue, the 26-year-old model said that as she became a feminist, her ideals no longer aligned with the brand.
“The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful,” she explained. “I think that was a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist, being able to make my own choices and my own narrative, whether through the companies I choose to work with or through the image I put out to the world.”
Though Kloss cites her issues with the brand’s overall message as the reason for her departure, Victoria’s Secret executive Ed Razek said in a 2015 statement that her contract would not be renewed due to her scheduling conflicts. (A classic Hollywood excuse.)
Victoria’s Secret (and Razek in particular) has come under fire in recent years for their longtime lack of diversity and promotion of stick-thin body types. It seems that the brand is listening to criticism; earlier this year, it was announced that the famed Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will no longer be aired on television. Surely, public stances like Kloss’s are helping shape the brand’s future toward inclusivity.
Kloss told British Vogue that she eventually found the courage to speak out against the industry’s deep-seated issues. “Looking back at my late teens and early twenties, I think I was fearful that I would lose a job or lose my position if I said I didn’t want to do something,” she said. “But I did not lose out on jobs. If anything, the more I exercised the power of my voice, the more I earned respect from my peers. And I earned more respect for myself. Only now do I have the confidence to stand tall—all 6 feet 2 inches of me—and know the power of my voice.”