Crowds of the young model’s fans and supporters flooded comments on her Twitter expressing their heartfelt pride over her runway career results; however besides that, many attempted to spoil the fun, but with little success.
22-year-old Kelsey Merritt became the first Filipina model to be picked to participate in Victoria’s Secret’s annual runway show, but some of her compatriots, although congratulating her on the success, took the news with a bit of scepticism, claiming she was cast as “white passing” and having “Eurocentric features.”
“My only issue with Kelsey Merritt, is that you can almost see that she’s pure American,” one woman wrote on Twitter.
“It would not be that difficult for her to get cast as VS as she fits the ff [sic] standards: tall, skinny, and white,” another remarked.
“Why not hire Justine Biticon?” she added, thereby making a reference to the half-Filipina and half-Mexican model.
“As much as I’m happy for Kelsey Merritt that she got into VS, I just wish she looked more like the average Filipina,” a different user chimed in. “She’s beautiful, yeah, but when y’all say ‘first Filipina VS model’, I kinda wish she wasn’t so… white looking?”
Merritt, who was born to a Filipina mother and American father and raised on the Southeast Asian islands, immediately struck back, tweeting a message to the fans both in Filipino and English:
“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,” Kelsey wrote, telling Teen Vogue she would like to see more models of her descent on haute-couture catwalks.
Just hours before the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show kicked off on Thursday, she revealed that would be listening to barrages of criticism directed at her, since she is determined to render one simple truth that “I am just me,” despite all people having diverse points of view.