Victoria’s Secret Has Just Hired Its Very First Transgender Model (And It’s About Time)
Sometimes we gotta wonder why we still shop at Victoria’s Secret. The lingerie company was pretty much the best place to buy your undergarments back in the day. But times have changed since then and we have so many other options. We have the option to shop at stores that aren’t as, well, sexist. It’s hard to watch the Victoria’s Secret fashion show every year while knowing that the company is kind of reminding us that we need to be as stick skinny as all the Angels. As good as the girls look on the runway, we can’t help but feel badly about ourselves. So when we’re shopping for undergarments at the mall, we normally check out our other options.
But Victoria’s Secret is starting to change, and they’re starting to make decisions that they wouldn’t have made in the past. The company just announced their first openly transgender model.
Never Say Never
Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of L Brands, the company that owns Victoria’s Secret, once said that the company would never hire a transgender model.
“It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show?,” Razek told Vogue. No. No, I don’t think we should.”
The company also had a problem when it came to showing women who had more realistic bodies, and not women who were stick skinny like models.
Victoria’s Secret is a company has had a lot of issues lately, even without Razek making these comments.
The famous Victoria’s Secret fashion show that happens every year was going to be put on hold this year, according to Australian model Shanina Shaik.
“Unfortunately, the Victoria’s Secret show won’t be happening this year,” Shaik told the Telegraph, explaining that “they’re trying to work on branding and new ways to do the show.” Not a good look.
Who's The Boss?
On top of that Razek just stepped down as CMO of L Brands following his remarks.
Razek became the CMO of L Brands in the late 1990, and became responsible for organizing the fashion show in 1995.
Shareholders were not happy with Razek. “While we recognize that Victoria’s Secret cannot be all things to all people, we believe that the Company should be delivering a more inclusive marketing message that promotes a more expansive view of beauty,” said Barington Group CEO James A. Mitarotonda.
Times Are Changing
Now, things are changing, and Victoria’s Secret just hired their first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio.
Valentina just posted on Instagram about the hire, saying she’s going to work on a campaign for Victoria’s Secret Pink brand.
“Backstage click @vspink,” Valentina wrote on Instagram, captioning a photo showing the model in a white bathrobe. The casting choice was also confirmed by CNN, so it is officially official that Victoria’s Secret hired a transgender model.
The model also posted a video on Instagram with the caption “Never stop dreaming genteee” and the hashtags “#staytuned, #vspink and #diversity.
The move was also confirmed by Valentina’s agent, Erio Zanon. Victoria’s Secret, in fact, finally did something they said they would never do.
While the former CMO of Victoria’s Secret might not like the move, other people are supportive of the fact that the company has finally hired a transgender model to pose for them.
Many other Victoria’s Secret models had a lot to say about the fact that Victoria’s Secret has now hired a transgender model.
Lily Aldridge, a Victoria’s Secret Angel, commented on Valentina’s post, putting several heart emojis.
Brazilian model, Lais Riberio, tweeted about the news and wrote, “First transgender to shoot with Vs! This make me so happy!” along side the news article that she posted on Twitter. Not everyone has the same beliefs as the former CMO.
In fact,Model Alliance decided to post a lengthy statement about Razek’s comments on Instagram, condemning the remarks.
“We are disappointed by the recent comments about trans and plus-size models made by Ed Razek, CMO of L Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company,” read the statement.
“Such comments create a hostile work environment for people who do not conform to Victoria’s Secret’s mold – one that enforces an idea of female beauty that is predominantly white, cisgender, young and thin.”
Don't Hold Back
The statement that Model Alliance did not hold back when it came to calling out the company:
“In addition to the brand’s issues with lack of diversity and inclusion, Victoria’s Secret photographers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct by models, which have yet to be adequately addressed,” wrote Model Alliance.
Victoria’s Secret does not have a great reputation all around. It’s not just who they don’t hire that is a problem, but who they hire is problematic, too.
Ultimately, Model Alliance called on Victoria’s Secret to do better when it comes to literally everything.
“If Victoria’s Secret is truly a leader, it will join the RESPECT Program so that models and their colleagues can work in a respectful, accountable and inclusive environment,” wrote Model Alliance.
“The RESPECT Code requires that all be treated with dignity and respect on the job, regardless of race, size, or gender identity. This is not the “PC” thing to do – this is best business practice.”
Model Alliance said that hurting one part of the modeling industry ultimately hurts all of it.
“When any part of our industry is excluded or oppressed, abuse is able to flourish and hurts us all. We can and need to do better,” finished out Model Alliance, adding the hashtags #Time4RESPECT and #VictoriasSecret.
It looks like the company is very aware that they can do better and are starting to make changes that are heading in that direction.
Pretty In Problems
This isn’t the first time Victoria’s Secret has been called out for not being the best that it can be.
In fact, the company is in a lot of trouble right now, and it’s not just because their former CMO made some un-PC comments.
Victoria’s Secret might close an estimated 53 stores this year because the company isn’t doing too well. It already closed 30 stores in 2018. Old Victoria’s Secret models have spoken out against the store.
Victoria’s Secret angel Karlie Kloss walked away from Victoria’s Secret in 2015 because of moral reasons.
The model told British Vogue that she decided to leave the brand while studying feminist theory at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
After doing some soul searching, Kloss couldn’t stay with the company and so she hung up her angel wings. It couldn’t have been an easy decision, but it was also the right thing for her to do.
Message In A Bottle
Ultimately, Kloss wasn’t sure what she was telling people by choosing to work for the company.
“The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful,” said Kloss.
Kloss didn’t want to be a bad role model for girls.
Words Into Action
Basically, Kloss decided to practice what she preached, turning her words into the action of walking away.
“I think that was a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist,” Kloss told British Vogue. “Being able to make my own choices and my own narrative, whether through the companies I choose to work with, or through the image I put out to the world.”
It’s not enough to say you’re a feminist. You actually have to be one.
The move ended up being pretty empowering for Kloss, who learned how to love herself.
“I think I was fearful that I would lose a job or lose my position if I said I didn’t want to do something,” Kloss said.
“But I did not lose out on jobs. If anything, the more I exercised the power of my voice, the more I earned respect from my peers.” It just goes to show how doing the right thing really is the right thing.
Back For More
Kloss ended up coming back to work for Victoria’s Secret, but this time she did it on her terms.
“There’s something really powerful about a woman who owns her sexuality and is in charge,” she said in 2018.
“A show like this celebrates that and allows all of us to be the best versions of ourselves. Whether it’s wearing heels, make-up or a beautiful piece of lingerie — if you are in control and empowered by yourself, it’s sexy.”
We’re going to have to see a lot of changes from Victoria’s Secret in order for us to re-embrace the brand the way Karlie Kloss did.
Now that the old CMO is out, we’re wondering if it’s going to be a different story.
The brand is going through a lot of struggles right now, and it’s going to have to do a lot of soul searching. We’re kind of going to miss the fashion show, but we won’t miss the sexism.