Fresh from New York City, MEGA x San Mig Light welcomes our very own Victoria Secret Model, Kelsey Merritt at the Antidote, I’M Hotel’s rooftop bar.
Many celebrity friends of Kelsey arrived at the MEGA x San Mig Light homecoming party, including BJ Pascual, Ylona Garcia, and Bea Fabregas. Kelsey thanked everyone at the event, saying that she “loved the energy that everyone brought” and that she was truly excited to meet everyone.
It was a warm welcome as everyone was proud to have the first Filipina Victoria’s Secret Angel back in her home country. She recalls that her huge career step is immediately dedicated to the Philippines–the country she grew up in.
Though Kelsey’s Filipino roots have been a heated topic of debate. When she was chosen to walk the runway for VSFS, Filipinos started clamoring for ‘proper representation.’
We talked to Kelsey Merritt about the criticisms she’s been receiving since her success.
“It’s so weird because I was born and raised here. I grew up in Pampanga, and I’ve actually never been to the States until I was eighteen to work as a model. Actually, the first language I knew better was Filipino than English. So, I just grew up identifying as Filipino. And I am Filipino. It’s just unfair for people to strip that off of me, just because my dad is American.”
“A European-looking Pinay walking the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is not shocking. Call me when someone who actually looks Filipino does it,” a Twitter user says.
It is rightful responsibility to openly speak about lack of Filipino representation in the fashion industry outside the Philippines. Since, even inside the country, white superiority in the media is evident and festering. However, is the discouraging backlash really necessary to be targeted at the success of a model who is simply following her dream?
Also, does being born with Filipino features and physical attributes all it really takes to be a true ‘Filipino?’
Denying someone of her own race, solely for her looks is unfair. When Kelsey Merritt issued an announcement on her Instagram on September 7, 2018, saying she’ll be walking the VS Fashion Show 2018 runway, a lot of Filipinos proudly congratulated her in awe. But with this groundbreaking success, an army of criticisms from fellow Filipinos heavily floated around the internet.
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WE DID IT PHILIPPINES!!!!!! 🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭 What an honor it is to be the first Filipino to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2018!!! Ahhhhhh I can’t believe this!! Thank you soooo much @johndavidpfeiffer, @monica.mitro, @10magazine, and @ed_razek for making my dream come true!! ❤️❤️❤️ And to my agents at @suprememgmt @nomadmgmt @romanyoung @david_kimm @marissasurmenkow thank you for believing in me and being there for me throughout this journey!! 💕🙏🏼 But most of all thank you to all my followers you guys are my rock!!! I couldn’t have done this without you guys. Thank you for your never ending support I LOVE Y’ALL para sainyo to!!!💕🇵🇭🙏🏼 #VSFashionShow
“When I’m here [in the Philippines], I look American. When I’m there [in the States], I look Asian,” Kelsey says.
“I do not look American at all there, they see me as Asian. So, when I come back here and people tell me, ‘she looks so American.’ I’m like… you can never really please anyone. So, I just do my own thing. I think people are entitled to their own opinions. I do understand where they are coming from. Some of them have valid points but as a person from the Philippines, who loves the culture and identifies as Filipino. I was just proud that I could give this to the country and you know I wasn’t really worried about what people would say. I was just happy to do it.”
“Ten years ago, I would not have been able to book this job because I’m Filipino,” Kelsey points out.
To walk the VS Fashion Show runway has been a long-time dream for the half-Filipino, half-American international model. Now that she finally fulfilled it, she did not only make history but she also opened doors for other Asian models in the fashion industry.
Kelsey Merritt herself is an epitome that there is diverse progress in the industry of Fashion
“Compared to years before, the fashion industry is already very diverse and, you know, not just culturally but also in terms of age diversity, weight diversity, height diversity. So, there has been a lot of changes happening and it’s for the good. It might be slow but we’re definitely going to get there.”
The Philippines is lucky to have Kelsey Merritt; a model who works hard to get to where she is today. She is not only an iconic Filipina but an inspiration to many. From her words, we can say that there is no horizon to her pride, dedication, and love for the country.
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