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'We all deserve the wings': Canadian blogger's powerful post hits back at Victoria's Secret

Sarah Nicole, the woman behind the blog The Birds Papaya, has gained a massive online following for chronicling her life as a mother-of-three, starting over after a divorce and the long and winding road towards self love.

Sarah Nicole. Image via Instagram/thebirdspapaya.

Sarah Nicole, the woman behind the blog The Birds Papaya, has gained a massive online following for chronicling her life as a mother-of-three, starting over after a divorce and the long and winding road towards self love.

In 2012, the Guelph, Ont. resident began cultivating a body positive space on Instagram to chronicle her 100-pound weight loss. Now, she proudly embraces her body for all of it’s imperfections, and is encouraging the more than 125,000 people who follow her to do the same.

Earlier this week, the 33-year-old took to social media after Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer made headlines for the brand’s lack of inclusivity and diversity.

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Ed Razek, of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, recently spoke with Vogue magazine ahead of the brand’s annual televised fashion show. In the interview, the 70-year-old addressed criticism of Victoria’s Secret’s lack of diversity by saying he didn’t think hiring transsexual models would be a creative fit for the brand because “the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special.”

Like many, Nicole was frustrated with the brand’s stance and unwillingness to evolve with their consumers. Razek’s comments compelled the blogger to take action and flip the script on the idea of the Victoria’s Secret “fantasy.”

On Sunday, she shared a photo of herself with a pair of Photoshopped angel wings that has since received more than 13,000 likes.

“It’s OK VS,” she captioned the photo. “I don’t need you or your runway. I need to love my body. I need to remind others to love theirs. Your fantasy isn’t my fantasy. And my money isn’t going to be your money. All women are angels. We all deserve the wings.”

Shortly after posting, women began following Nicole’s suit and began tagging her in their own photos of themselves as angels. She said the response was a complete surprise.

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“As the hours rolled on last night more and more people started to post their own versions and I watched as women proudly stood, making their own statements,” she told Yahoo Canada. “I try not to predict social media or do things just for the likes. I create from the heart. Yesterday, it was really on my heart. The fact that it spoke to others was a blessing.”

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret received intense backlash and criticism for Razek’s comments and issued a public apology. Although the post was directed towards the brand, Nicole said there was more behind her decision to share her latest photo.

“Brands can do what they want,” she said. “I’ve been a customer of Victoria’s Secret in the past and I knew they weren’t the most body-positive brand to begin with, but it really hit me the wrong way when (Razek) said they were excluding plus size and trans models by choice. Not only did it create backlash towards the brand, but I noticed women turning on each other. I think the worst was ‘if you don’t fit their sizes, don’t hate the brand – just lose the weight.’ It was destructive in more ways than one.”

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The blogger says the controversy presented an opportunity to bring women together, and remind all women, including those who fit the Victoria’s Secret mold, that everyone regardless of their size is deserving of having wings.

“I don’t think it’s unfortunate for us as consumers to be not represented well by Victoria’s Secret,” she said. “It’s more that I’m sad that the brand has yet to experience the beauty of all bodies. The VS models are real women, with real bodies, too. We don’t need to shame them. There’s room for more beauty, and there’s room for growth and change.”

The blogger also continues to build her platform by partnering with brands that echo her beliefs, including the body positive lingerie label, Knixwear.

“They’re constantly looking for more ways to be inclusive and featuring models, like myself, with so-called ‘flaws’ and all shapes, colours and even transgender,” she explained. “I want both men and women to know that there is so much beauty in the mess. There is so much joy in the journey. That we can actually love our bodies, as it ebbs and flows with us through life and change.” 

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