Victoria’s Secret has found its newest model in openly transgender Valentina Sampaio.
The Brazilian model took to Instagram to share a selfie of herself on the set of a photoshoot for the “VS Pink” sub-brand. “Backstage click,” she captioned the photo of herself in a white bathrobe.
The news was seemingly confirmed by fellow Brazilian and Victoria’s Secret model Lais Ribeiro, who tweeted she was “so happy” for Sampaio. “First transgender to shoot with Vs,” Ribeiro tweeted.
Orange Is the New Black star and LGBTQ advocate Laverne Cox also commented on Sampaio’s photo, writing, “Finally!”
Sampaio has already made strides in the fashion industry, as she was the first transgender model to grace the cover of Vogue Paris in 2017.
News of Sampaio’s hiring comes less than a year after the lingerie company faced backlash after an executive made remarks about transgender people walking in its annual fashion show in an interview with Vogue.
Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company L Brand, was asked to explain why the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show does not include transgender or plus-size models. In his response — which included the use of the word “transsexual,” an outdated and offensive term — Razek said that trans and plus-size women do not exemplify the “fantasy” that the lingerie brand is trying to sell.
“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 the publication. “It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”
Razek also said that he and the Victoria’s Secret team had previously thought of casting trans and plus-size models but ultimately decided against doing so.
A day after Razek’s comments ignited public scrutiny, Victoria’s Secret shared his apology via Twitter. “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive,” he said in a statement. “I apologize. To be clear, we would absolutely cast a transgender model for the show.”
He added, “We’ve had transgender models come to castings. … And like many others, they didn’t make it. … But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
This year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has reportedly been canceled.