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Victoria's Secret hires first transgender model following criticism

Meet Valentina Sampaio, Victoria's Secret's first transgender model.
Victoria's Secret transgender model Valentina Sampaio
Valentina Sampaio is the first transgender model to work for Victoria's Secret.Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Victoria's Secret just welcomed a new model for its latest campaign, and she's already causing a stir.

Valentina Sampaio is a Brazilian model and actress, and the first transgender model to work with the lingerie brand.

The 22-year-old stars in the upcoming Victoria's Secret Pink campaign, and hinted at the news on Instagram, sharing a behind-the-scenes shot from her photo shoot.

Sampaio also shared a short video of herself posing for the camera, and captioned the post "Never stop dreaming."

The model's manager, Erio Zanon, told TODAY Style the partnership came about when the brand reached out to Sampaio on Instagram.

For now, Sampaio will only be featured in the upcoming Pink campaign, but she told TODAY Style she hopes the opportunity sets the stage for more diversity in the industry.

"I am really happy and proud to be part of this campaign and hope it could be a huge step toward more inclusivity and representation for everybody," Sampaio said, according to Zanon.

Sampaio has previously been an ambassador for L'Oreal.Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

The news might come as a bit of a surprise for Victoria's Secret critics. After all, just last year, Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of the brand's parent company, L Brands Inc., told Vogue that transgender women would not be cast in runway 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 ... 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," he said.

At the time, he also said people weren't interested in seeing plus-size models on the Victoria’s Secret runway. “We attempted to do a television special for plus sizes (in 2000). No one had any interest in it, still don’t,” he said.

Afterward, Razek apologized for his statements on Twitter and admitted that his initial statements were "insensitive." He also clarified his words, saying that the brand would indeed hire a transgender model.

On Monday, L Brands Inc. Chairman and chief executive Leslie Wexner announced that Razek will soon resign. In a letter sent to staff and obtained by TODAY, Razek revealed he plans to retire this month.

"A few weeks ago, I shared with Les my desire to retire sometime around mid August. It was a tough conversation to have because, as some of you must know, we have shared so much together for so many years. Including a deep love of this business. Still, it’s time," he wrote.

Critics have long argued that the brand's model roster lacks diversity, and over the last year, Victoria's Secrets sales have certainly suffered. Just a few months ago, the store announced it would close more than 50 stores due to declining sales. This spring, Victoria's Secret also announced that its annual fashion show will not be returning to network television.

Hiring Sampaio for the new Pink campaign is certainly encouraging news, and we're excited to see her gorgeous photos when they're released this fall.