Lingerie manufacturer and global fashion brand Victoria’s Secret has just hired its first openly transgender model.
Brazilian model and actress Valentina Sampaio revealed she would be working with the brand after sharing a behind-the-scenes photo at a shoot for the brand’s new Pink line.
Sampaio is also the first transgender model to appear on the cover of Vogue.
Victoria’s Secret has faced a fair bit of controversy over the past year, after its chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, told Vogue he didn’t think the brand should feature trans models in their shows.
Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.
A few days later, however, Victoria’s Secret tweeted a brief statement from Razek in which he aimed to clarify and apologise for his comments.
My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it… But it was never about gender.
Please read this important message from Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer, L Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret). pic.twitter.com/CW8BztmOaM
— Victoria's Secret (@VictoriasSecret) November 10, 2018
Still, Razek was heavily criticised for his remarks, which also had an impact on the brand. Just last month, veteran model Karlie Kloss decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret due to the lack of inclusion in the industry.
Kloss told Vogue:
The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful.
I think that was a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist, being able to make my own choices and my own narrative, whether through the companies I choose to work with, or through the image I put out to the world.
Shortly after Razek’s comments about including trans models in their shows, Kloss and fellow model Lily Aldridge took to social media to post a message disagreeing with him. They both posted a photo with the message: ‘Trans and GNC [gender non-conforming] people are not a debate’.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8 pm to midnight and is run by trans volunteers.
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.