Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret posted a photo and video of Filipino-American model Kelsey Merritt on Instagram earlier today, making it the brand’s first official announcement that she will be joining the famed Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show this year.
The photo was a repost of what Merritt giddily shared with her followers on her Instagram account on Friday. It shows Merritt holding a bouquet, ready to burst into tears after finding out that she’ll be in this year’s fashion show.
It says on Victoria’s Secret’s post: “It’s a dream come true for @kelseymerritt! Head to our IGTV to learn more about her & more #VSFashionShow models!”
Victoria’s Secret shared a two-minute video interview with the Filipina on its Instagram TV page, where Merritt answers a series of questions.
Merritt confesses in the video that she loves binge-eating green mangoes bought from the Philippines and that she can pick stuff up with her feet, which she feels is “a very Filipino thing to do.”
She’s a Game of Thrones fan too. She says in the video: “My favorite show of all time is Game of Thrones and I know I’m not the only one who’s going to agree that it is one of the best shows out there.”
She also gave advice to aspiring models. “Dream big and dream hard and work hard. And don’t stop pushing yourself to your limits… Don’t look at others’ success, don’t worry about others, don’t compare yourself to others.”
“Just focus on yourself and you’ll go far,” she adds.
Over the weekend, a netizen sparked a debate about colorism when she said in a tweet that Merritt doesn’t look Filipino enough.
Beauty YouTuber Cine Escalona wrote on Sunday: “[A] European looking pinay walking for Vic/tori’as Secret??????? shocking. [C]all me when someone who actually looks traditionally Filipino does it.”
In a series of tweets, she added that she doesn’t mean to discredit Merritt but simply does not think it’s groundbreaking for a “white-looking woman [to] walk a predominantly white fashion show.”
Some came to Merritt’s defense, saying she actually does look Filipino. The model herself clapped back through a tweet and said in Filipino and English: “I was born in the Philippines and I grew up in Pampanga. I finished my studies in Manila before I moved to the United States last year.”
Pinanganak ako sa Pilipinas at lumaki ako sa Pampanga. Tinapos ko ang pagaaral ko sa Manila bago ako lumipat sa US last year. Mas pinoy pa dugo ko kesa sa mga “pure” na hindi pa nakatapak sa Pilinipas. I love my country and I’m proud of where I came from. ❤️
— Kelsey Merritt (@kelsmerritt) September 9, 2018
Merritt moved to the US to pursue her modeling career full time after she graduated with a communications degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 2017.
“My blood is more Pinoy than ‘pure’ [Filipinos] that have never stepped foot in the Philippines. I love my country and I’m proud of where I came from.”
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has featured some of the biggest models in the world, such as Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Miranda Kerr, Heidi Klum, and Adriana Lima.