Fox News reports the famous lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret has hired its first transgender model. The news comes less than a year after the company suffered bad press when an executive remarked he would never include transgender models in its annual fashion show.
The executive later walked those comments back after a backlash. The transgender model hiring decision is clearly an effort to beg indulgence from LGBTQ activists and their supporters.
The transgender model, Valentina Sampaio, was born a biological male in Brazil. Sampaio posted an announcement of the new gig to Instagram with a photo of himself at a shoot with “VS Pink,” writing: “Backstage click” alongside the hashtag “diversity.”
This is not the first time Sampaio has been the face of corporate attempts to appeal to rapidly morphing sexual appetites. Twenty-two-year-old Sampaio was also the first transgender model to appear on an edition of Vogue magazine. The model posed for Vogue Paris in February 2017.
According to reports pieced together from interviews and Instagram posts, Sampaio became transgender at a young age. It appears through photos that Sampaio has had his male genitals surgically removed, although he has not confirmed that publicly.
So far, the news has generated positive press from some and criticism from others. One fellow Victoria’s Secret model praised the brand for having a man model its women’s lingerie. However, it’s obvious to many that this is an effort to publicly apologize for what happened last year, even if hiring a transgender model to sell female underwear makes little sense.
In 2018, Ed Razek, then chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brand, put the company’s public relations campaign in hot water when he noted that few female customers want to buy lingerie modeled on a man. Razek said transgender and plus-size models shouldn’t be included in the company’s televised fashion show “because the show is a fantasy.” “I don’t think we can be all things to all customers. It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store,” he said during an interview with Vogue.
After Razek received intense criticism for his remarks, particularly from singer Halsey, who performed during the show last year, he walked them back, saying he “came across as insensitive.” “To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model in our show. 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,” he said.
The Guardian reported Tuesday that Razek quit his job as chief marketing officer following Victoria’s Secret’s decision to hire Sampaio.
The fact that Victoria’s Secret hired a biological man who lives as a woman to sell their bras and underwear indicates they are trying to rebrand away from focusing on women, especially teens and college-age women, at suburban shopping malls, especially after the criticism they received last year over the transgender model comments. Their annual televised fashion show has suffered from diminishing ratings for several years. This year’s show was cancelled altogether. In 2018, Forbes reported the brand had seen a significant decline in sales since at least 2016. A rebrand makes some sense, but this kind of rebrand does not.
Victoria’s Secret’s shouldn’t capitulate to the LGBTQ mob. It will not only cost them female consumers offended by their decision to equate a transgender man with biological women, but male consumers as well, for obvious reasons. Razek’s pointed statements last year, followed by a forced apology and now his departure, further indicates the brand shouldn’t bend to the new cultural “norm.”
Victoria’s Secret need not please the mob that accuses them of bigotry for selling women’s clothes to women using women models. Woke marketing can ruin even lingerie.