Victoria's Secret Appoints Transgender Model
Source: Wikimedia There are not many openly transgender people working in high-profile public roles but that is something that is increasingly changing around the world. For example, the swimwear model, Geena Rocero, began her career at the age of 21 having been discovered by a photographer in New York City. Originally from the Philippines, she went on to have a successful time modelling before coming out in 2015 alongside other transgender women, such as Yasmine Petty and Leyna Bloom. In the case of Valentina Sampaio, however, the model has won her first big mainstream contract despite already being out. This may mark a big change in the world of fashion modelling and in the acceptance of the transgender community by wider society. Okay, the odds were not on Sampaio's side, but she did it even when no one bet in her favour and now the 22-year-old model and actress has broken new ground for the transgender community.
Victoria's Secret: A Forward-Thinking Brand Identity?
When Victoria's Secret announced that it was going to use Sampaio in its future marketing campaigns, many in the transgender community and elsewhere understandably praised the move as a progressive one. However, the fashion brand has not always been noted for its socially progressive stances. As far back as 2008, the lingerie design studio and retailer was being criticized by some women's groups for promoting culturally normative influences, especially over younger women and teenage girls. In 2014, the firm ran a campaign that referred to the 'perfect' female body shape, something that also upset many people who said that Victoria's Secret was not embracing diversity sufficiently. Some have also said the group has engaged in 'cultural appropriation' in a number of its East Asian inspired designs. In this context, the 2018 interview that Edward Razek gave to Vogue magazine in which he said that no transgender woman would ever be hired to model for the brand received something of a backlash. As an executive vice president of public relations for Victoria's Secret, Razek's comments certainly made headlines but added to the sense that the lingerie company was rather more backward thinking than progressive. As such, the decision to hire Sampaio less than a year later is being seen by many as a big change for Victoria's Secret's brand identity. It is now the first truly global brand to have made such a big deal of using a transgender model although smaller ones have certainly done so in the past. In fact, few followers of fashion will be surprised to learn that Razek's retirement was announced soon after Sampaio's appointment was made public. Source: Pixabay
Sampaio – The New Face of Victoria's Secret
The fact is that Sampaio will join a host of models from around the world as the so-called faces of Victoria's Secret so she won't carry the brand alone. However, being an openly transgender woman, it is likely that Sampaio's modelling is likely to receive much more interest, indeed scrutiny, than the others she will work alongside. Perhaps that is the nature of any group which breaks new ground in society, whether the attention comes from supporters or not. Certainly, big names in the transgender community have welcomed the move and have given their support to Victoria's Secret's marketing executives for it. For example, Carmen Carrera, a transgender model, reality TV personality and activist said that she was happy that the brand was moving closer to embracing all types of women by announcing the appointment of their first transgender model before adding that she wished it hadn't taken them so long to do so. Others in the transgender community in the US, such as Laverne Cox, echoed her thoughts by saying that people of all backgrounds and identities should never stop dreaming. Sampaio made her thoughts about working for the Victoria's Secret brand known following a post on her Instagram account. The model, who has been working almost continually in the profession since 2016, first took the runway during São Paulo's Fashion Week. She featured in a short film for the cosmetics brand L'Oréal, which was released to coincide with International Women's Day. In 2017, she was the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of the Paris edition of Vogue. She has also worked with H&M, Marc Jacobs and Moschino in the past, so Victoria's Secret is only the latest fashion brand to benefit from her modelling prowess, albeit on a much more global scale.