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A 21-year-old model be­came the first Filipino to walk in the most-watched fash­ion show in the world, the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret Fash­ion Show in New York on Nov. 8.

Kelsey Mer­ritt, an AB Com­mu­ni­ca­tions grad­u­ate of Ate­neo de Manila Univer­sity, be­comes a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret model who will be watched by hun­dreds of mil­lions world­wide when the show airs on Dec. 2.

“It feels like a dream,” she told Teen Vogue in an in­ter­view pub­lished on­line. And a coun­try ob­sessed with beauty pageants could not agree more.

To­day, a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret fash­ion show is ar­guably more pop­u­lar than beauty pageants, air­ing in more than 100 coun­tries, es­pe­cially among the young the world over who as­pire to model the scanty pieces of this iconic lin­gerie brand.

Mer­ritt will join the ranks of celebri­ties Ken­dall Jen­ner and Gigi Ha­did.

In­quirer ToBeYou model

Mer­ritt, who was born in Pam­panga province and grew up in Manila, was also a model of the In­quirer ToBeYou sec­tion. She did a shoot for ToBeYou in Bo­ra­cay, when she was a model of the lo­cal Bench brand, Kashieca.

Early on, she sin­gle-mind­edly worked on be­com­ing a model. Aside from ToBeYou, she did shoots for lo­cal glossies and bill­boards, and walked the run­way shows of the Bench brands.

She told Teen Vogue be­fore the show: “Get­ting the show is a dream come true but be­ing the first Filipino woman to walk in the show means I’m mak­ing his­tory. The show is broad­cast in more than 190 coun­tries with mod­els from 20 coun­tries, and I got cho­sen to rep­re­sent my re­gion. Blessed!”

Her block mate at Ate­neo, Ni­cole Thorp, also a ToBeYou con­trib­u­tor, de­scribed Mer­ritt: “She is nice and hard­work­ing, and she could jug­gle her mod­el­ing jobs in New York and Lon­don.”

‘I’m just me’

Mer­ritt’s run­way stint is heat­ing up the in­ter­net, with some ne­ti­zens com­ment­ing that she’s not a “pure Filip­ina”—her mother is Filipino, her fa­ther Amer­i­can—and thus she should not claim her achieve­ment as an Asian victo- ry, be­cause she is “white.”

Mer­ritt, how­ever, has a sen­si­ble, straight­for­ward re­ply to that in Teen Vogue: “I would love to tell them that I am just me.”

She posted on her Twit­ter ac­count: “Pi­nan­ganak ako sa Pilip­inas at lumaki ako sa Pam­panga. Ti­na­pos ko ang pag-aaral ko sa Manila bago ako lu­mi­pat sa US last year. Mas pinoy pa dugo ko kesa sa mga ‘pure’ na hindi pa nakat­a­pak sa [Pilip­inas]. (I was born in the Philip­pines and grew up in Pam­panga. I fin­ished my stud­ies in Manila be­fore I moved to the US last year. My blood is more Filipino than those of ‘pure’ ones who’ve never stepped on Philip­pine soil). I love my coun­try and I’m proud of where I came from.”

Ap­par­ently, she has de­fend­ers, most of them stu­dents.


In a poll of ToBeYou, Ira Pa­tri­cia Pe­layo of the Univer­sity of Santo Tomas (UST) said: “But what is true Filip­ina beauty? Even though Kelsey Mer­ritt has eu­ro­cen­tric fea­tures, she still em­bod­ies strong and fierce Filipino fea­tures. The fact that she is Filipino by blood is some­thing that we should be proud of as she rep­re­sents us in the in­ter­na­tional mod­el­ing in­dus­try.”

An­other UST stu­dent, Has­min Sevilla, added: “Her for­eign looks don’t make her less Filip­ina. Aside from our blood, a great mea­sure of one’s na­tion­al­ity is the con­tent of our hearts. Her beauty and courage should make us all proud!”


WALK OF FAME Filipino model Kelsey Mer­ritt (left) joins other in­ter­na­tional mod­els on the run­way at the 2018 Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret Fash­ion Show on Nov. 8 in New York City. Mer­ritt be­came the first Filipino to join the glit­tery cat­walk ex­trav­a­ganza and most-watched fash­ion event of the year with at least 800 mil­lion view­ers an­nu­ally.

Kelsey Mer­ritt in Bo­ra­cay for an In­quirer ToBeYou shoot

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