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Meet Valentina Sampaio, Victoria's Secret First Transgender Model

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Who Is Valentina Sampaio? New Details On Victoria's Secret First Transgender Model

Over the years, Victoria’s Secret has come under scrutiny for its lack of diversity among its models. We’re used to seeing rail-thin models with long hair walking the runway and being prominently featured in promotional ads. Even “plus-size” model, Ashley Graham, called out the company for their lack of inclusivity with women of all shapes and body sizes.

But now, Victoria’s Secret has added a new, diverse model to the company: Valentina Sampaio. 

Who is Valentina Sampaio? Not only is she young, beautiful, and talented, but she’s also transgender. In fact, she’s actually the first transgender model to sign with the company.

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But what else do we know about her besides making history? Here are six things to know about her personal life, her career, and how she’s breaking barriers.

1. She’s from Brazil.

Sampaio was born in Aquiraz, Ceará, in Northeastern Brazil. The village is a fishing village and as such, her father is a fisherman and her mother is a schoolteacher.

2. She knew she was transgender at an early age.


A post shared by Valentina Sampaio (@valentts) on Jun 12, 2019 at 6:36am PDT

She was first identified as transgender when she was eight years old. Though she won’t reveal her birth name, Sampaio has commented on it, saying, “I always felt like a girl." Thankfully, she was never bullied for identifying as a female.

3. She had another career in mind.

Sampaio was studying architecture in Fortaleza, Brazil, before dropping out at the age of 16 to study at a fashion college. As luck would have it, she was discovered by a makeup artist and signed with a modeling agency in São Paulo.

4. Sampaio then began her modeling career.


A post shared by Valentina Sampaio (@valentts) on Dec 10, 2018 at 7:30am PST

At the very beginning of her career in 2014, she was fired from a modeling job because she was transgender. However, she quickly rebounded and acted in an independent film that premiered at São Paulo Fashion Week.

In 2016, she walked in São Paulo Fashion Week, and has since become a spokeswoman for L’Oreal. In 2017, she appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris, becoming the first transgender model to do so. She also appeared on the covers of Vogue Brasil, Vogue Germany, Vanity Fair Italia, Elle Mexico, and L’Officiel Turkiye. In addition to appearing on magazines, she’s worked with brands like Moschino and Philipp Plein.

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5. She announced the good news on her Instagram.

Sampaio posted a photo of herself backstage for Victoria’s Secret PINK, confirming she signed with the company. She was hired for a catalog shoot, which will be released this month. Her agent, Erio Zanon, also confirmed to CNN that she was hired for the PINK line. 

Zanon commented that the campaign she was hired for is “amazing and groundbreaking.” “She is super happy and proud to represent all her community. She hopes this opportunity shall be another step to break barriers,” he added.

6. The ex-chief marketing officer for Victoria's Secret has made transphobic comments in the past.


A post shared by Valentina Sampaio (@valentts) on May 6, 2019 at 6:35am PDT

Former VS marketing officer Ed Razek sparked outrage in 2018 for his comments about transgender individuals. In an interview with Vogue last year, Razek said, “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. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” He later apologized for his “insensitive” comments.

Now, Razek has announced he's resigning from the brand’s parent company, L Brands, and the timing couldn’t be better. Along with his comments, the company has faced declining sales resulting in store closures. 

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.