Victoria Secret's first transgender model Valentina Sampaio hails 'hugely important moment' in fashion
Valentina Sampaio has hailed her Victoria's Secret casting a "hugely important moment".
The Brazilian native will be the first openly transgender model to work with the iconic brand in its 42-year history and believes the move is "a step toward more inclusivity".
In an exclusive interview with Vogue, Valentina said: "Being appointed the first transgender model for the brand is a hugely important moment not only for myself but my community and beyond. I hope [this can] be a huge step toward more inclusivity and representation for everybody."
The 22-year-old model had always wanted to be a Victoria's Secret model but found fame when she landed on the front of French Vogue's March 2017 issue, also becoming the first transgender model to feature on the cover of the magazine, and she hopes other brands will follow in their footsteps.
Valentina said: "My dream [now] is to live in a world where representation is celebrated. I believe brands are beginning to see the value of inclusiveness, but there is a lot more work to do in our industry, culture, and society. I truly hope to be able to work with more brands that understand the importance of this...
"I'm really happy and proud to be working with Victoria's Secret, especially during this time of change. I feel very proud of my achievements, but this is just the beginning. It is important that I use my voice and my visibility to try to change the status quo."
So far, Valentina is imagining a world where it isn't consider newsworthy when a transgender model appears in a lingerie campaign.
She continued: "Imagine a world where it is not news that a transgender model has been appointed by a fashion brand. Wouldn't that be amazing?! Because it would mean that it is normal and it is happening all the time. I want to see this across all communities. Ultimately I want to live in a world with more respect for every kind of human being."
The model's casting became a groundbreaking moment after the brand was previously under fire when its former chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, spoke against the inclusion of transgender and plus-size talent in the brand's campaign imagery and fashion shows.
He said: "Why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is."
However, Razek later apologised for his comments in a statement published on the Victoria's Secret Twitter account, writing: "My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria's Secret Fashion show came across as insensitive. I apologise."
"To be clear, we would absolutely cast a transgender model for the show."