Women's Lingerie Brand Victoria's Secret Hires First Transgender Model


Like it or not, 2019 is getting weird. This week, it was confirmed that one of the world’s most well-known brands for women has hired a transgender person to model for them, in the latest example of a company shifting dramatically to the left.

“Victoria’s Secret has reportedly hired its first-ever transgender model — less than a year since the lingerie company came under fire after an executive made remarks about transgender people walking in its annual fashion show,” Fox News reported on Sunday.

That model is Valentina Sampaio, a Brazilian who was born as biologically male. Sampaio, 22, already made headlines after becoming the first transgender model to be featured in Vogue Magazine back in 2017.

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Vogue and Victoria’s Secret also happened to be at the center of a controversy several months ago, after an executive for the famous lingerie brand was forced to apologize for saying that there hadn’t been much global interest in transgender or plus-sized modeling shows.

“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,” said Ed Razek, the Chief Marketing Officer for the parent company of Victoria’s Secret.

“We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world,” he added. “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.”

He was later forced to backpedal after being accused of insensitivity.

Do you think this move will work out well for Victoria's Secret?

“My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive,” Razek said in a statement, according to The Daily Wire. “I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show.”

The decision by Victoria’s Secret to feature a transgender model may be connected to those comments and comes shortly after other well-known brands have gone out of their way to cater to the LGBT community, with mixed results.

Razor giant Gillette, for example, sparked a social media controversy after it ran an advertisement showing a transgender person shaving for the first time. Many people saw the ad as bizarre and pandering, with others wondering how well the decision would actually sell razors.

Not well, it turns out. As we recently covered, the company has acknowledged that the backlash probably lost them billions of dollars in lost market share, confirming the adage “Get Woke, Go Broke.”

Now, Victoria’s Secret can of course advertise their lacy underwear any way they see fit. If they think that having a biological man parade around while wearing their threads will sell more lingerie, that’s their choice.

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But it’s not hard to predict that this will probably be seen as a pandering publicity stunt by much of their core market, and could easily backfire just as Gillette’s transgender shift did.

The brand has already been struggling, with its once-popular fashion show getting the ax this year. “The annual fashion show has suffered from diminishing ratings for several years, and, according to Angel Shanina Shaik, the 2019 show has been canceled,” Fox reported. “It was initially reported that the show just wouldn’t be televised.”

Will women now rush out to buy more thongs because a man who altered his hormones and modified his body is now wearing them? You don’t have to be a marketing genius to be skeptical.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.