If you've been keeping up with latest Victoria's Secret news following last year's drama, you've no doubt spent the weekend asking, "Wait, who is Valentina Sampaio?" Almost a year after the lingerie retailer's then-Chief of Marketing Ed Razek shot down the idea of Victoria's Secret having trans models or plus-size models, it's now being reported that VS has hired its first trans model to work with the brand. (Elite Daily reached out to Victoria's Secret for comment on hiring Valentina Sampaio.) Could this be the real deal?
Let's rewind and revisit when things took a sad turn. Not long after the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, in November 2018, Vogue released an interview with Razek and Monica Mitro, the Executive VP of Public Relations at Victoria's Secret. In the piece, Mitro pats VS on the back for being inclusive: "I feel like our runways have been culturally diverse for a long time and that we’ve always celebrated our models’ backgrounds. I think we were one of the first to tell women to wear their natural hair, and that was a huge headline [two] years ago," Mitro told Vogue. "That’s one thing we’ve been really proud of about the show; it’s not just women who are hangers carrying clothing. They have personalities, and we care about who they are and what they have to say," she continued.
However, the interview quickly took on a more defensive tone when Razek said his piece on any possible expansion of inclusion:
"If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have," Razek told Vogue, elaborating further a few answers later. "It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? 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," said Razek.
Obviously, lots of people were upset with Victoria's Secret for implying that plus-size and trans models couldn't sell the brand's intended fantasy. YouTuber and trans woman Nikita Dragun even filmed her own VS video spoof to prove just how well she could sell it:
And now, after rumors have swirled over the possibility of the show being canceled altogether, it's been reported that Victoria's Secret has, in fact, hired their first transgender model.
Meet the gorgeous Valentina Sampaio:
Sampaio is a 22-year-old Brazilian model, known as the first trans model to land a Vogue cover, thanks to a Vogue Paris shoot in 2017. Victoria's Secret hasn't officially confirmed working with Sampaio, but she took to Instagram to post a behind-the-scenes photo that implied she was shooting with none other than Victoria's Secret PINK.
"Backstage click @vspink💕💕" Sampaio captioned her snapshot:
"Never stop dreaming genteee 💋💋💋," and "Life is amazing... Love more and hate less, hate is useless, just do not waste time with it!💖✨" are her two most recent captions, perhaps in response to negativity toward the brand or her decision to align herself with them.
Many trans activists have spoken out in regard to Sampaio's reported hiring, including Nikita Dragun, who admitted, "To see change like this is amazing."
Actress and trans activist Laverne Cox commented a passionate "Wow finally!" on Sampaio's Instagram, and Victoria's Secret Angel Lais Ribeiro left a string of applause emojis. While it's still unclear if there will be a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2019, hopefully we'll be able to see Sampaio — and perhaps even more inclusive casting choices — wearing some wings and strutting their stuff in the future.