Filipino Victoria's Secret Model

by Symantha Owsley

Kelsey Merritt may not be fully Filipino, but she has influenced many people and has taken a big part in people’s lives. She is making international headlines as the first Pinay (this is what they call female Filipinos, male Filipinos are Pinoys) to walk on the Victoria’s Secret catwalk. She tells people who want to become models to “dream big and work hard, don’t stop pushing yourself to the limits. Don’t worry about others, don’t compare yourself, and just focus on yourself.” Kelsey Merritt is making history!

Kelsey Merritt is a 22 year-old Filipino-American born in Pampanga, Philippines. She is actually half Filipino, her mother is Filipino, while her father is Caucasian. Merritt went to college at Ateneo de Manila University Manila, in the Philippines and graduated in May 26, 2017. During the four years, she juggled modeling in New York and school in the Philippines. Since she was so busy, she had to finish through online school. She then came to the United States after graduating to pursue her modeling career. She one day tweeted “ Mark my words, I’ll be a [Victoria Secret] model too someday”, then about a year later on May 14, she excitedly announced that she was going to shoot with Victoria’s Secret! She was chosen as one of the models to walk in the Victoria’s Secret show in New York on September 2018.

“We did it Philippines,” Merritt announced excitedly. “It feels like a dream,” she told Teen Vogue. "Getting the show is the dream come true but being the first Filipino woman to walk in the show means I’m making history.” The show broadcasts more than 190 countries with models from 20 countries, she was very excited to find out she was chosen to represent her region. Even though she was excited though, she admitted that she has suffered from many anxiety attacks in her journey to becoming a model for Victoria’s Secret. Merritt says that there has been a lot of pressure, but her boyfriend, Conor Dwyer, American swimmer, has been there to comfort her and she is very thankful for him.

However, some people had some issues referring to her skin color.  The issue is people saying that her skin tone does not make her look full Filipino. People were disagreeing with her saying she was the first Filipino model because she isn’t full Filipino, but this doesn’t stop her from following her dreams. She then tweeted about her strong connection to the country she calls home, "I was born in the Philippines and I grew up in Pampanga. I finished my school in Manila before I moved to the US last year. My blood is more Filipino than the 'pure' who have never set foot in the Philippines." Yes, she may not be a full Filipina, but she feels very connected to the Philippines. She proudly identifies herself as a true Filipina,no matter what shade her skin is. Merritt is thankful for the support she gets and does not let the haters get to her!