It’s official: Victoria’s Secret has hired its first openly transgender model. After rumors swirled over the weekend that Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio had joined the lingerie giant’s official roster of models, Sampaio’s agent made it official by confirming the news with CNN on Monday.
Sampaio first sparked rumors that she’d been hired on Thursday when she posted an image of herself on Instagram with a handful of suggestive hashtags, including #vspink, #campaign and #diversity. On Saturday, Sampaio upped the ante with an Instagram video of herself, alongside the caption, “Never stop dreaming genteee." Her agent, Erio Zanon, revealed that Sampaio’s first gig with the company will be a campaign for its upcoming PINK line, which will reportedly be released late this month.
The move marks a step in the right direction for a company that has come under fire for its casting, and the unrealistic beauty standard that it often promotes. Just last year, Victoria’s Secret’s Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, was criticized for comments he made about the notion that his company would ever include a transgender model in the famous Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. “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,” he told Vogue at the time. “It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader.”
At the time, Halsey had just performed at the show, and criticized Razek’s comments after catching wind of them. “After I filmed the performance, some comments were made regarding the show that I simply cannot ignore,” Halsey wrote on Instagram. “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity. Especially not one motivated by stereotype. If you are a trans person reading this, and these comments have made you feel alienated or invalidated please know that you have allies. We stand in solidarity, and complete and total acceptance is the only ‘fantasy’ that I support.”