A frank discussion with transgender fashion model Valentina Sampaio. We get her take on defying standards, embracing gender fluidity and what the fashion industry can do to embrace diversity.
Interviewed by Alexei Key
Milan, Italy. November 5th, 2020
Valentina Sampaio: I’ve always been Valentina. Since I began to be conscious about sexuality, for sure there was a period – let’s say until I was 13 or 14 – when society made me feel wrong because I did not fit its standards. But when I was 13 or 14, I just started to not care any more about those standards, and I started to be more comfortable with myself and my status.
Being born trans has been met with cruel judgement, criticism and insults. But every obstacle made me a stronger person, a stronger woman and a more compassionate human. I had to, because my life literally depended on me believing enough in my own right to exist.
But it hasn’t been easy. Early on, I had a high-profile modeling job, and once they realized on set that I was trans, I was suddenly fired. To share the excitement and pride of a job with friends and family, only to then be shamed and rejected – it is heartbreaking. I am very grateful to God and all the people who have helped me along my journey so far. I honor the challenges of those who came before me, who directly or indirectly have made it possible for me to be where I am today.
I feel most confident when I’m wearing a dope outfit, recording in the studio or performing on stage. When I feel in my element, I feel like nothing can stop me. My confidence comes from seeing my parents be confident in themselves; whether it’s their music, art or fashion. I’ve always felt like I got to learn who I really was at an early age because I was encouraged to be free and experiment with myself.
And there is still much to be done for the world and for humanity. I wish for the world to be more filled with love. For there to be more unity and kindness among us, so that people can be free to be themselves, without judgment. Without love, we are nothing.
I do think we are in a moment of evolution of more inclusion, though we are walking with small steps. I would love to see people, brands and companies more open to fearlessly embracing the trans community with compassion and respect. I believe there is enough room in the world for all of us to exist in our own unique way – as long as there is respect and humanity.
For me, every project is precious and memorable because it’s is a step forward – not just for me, but for the entire trans community. Anything is possible. I am committed to grow and continue to push boundaries for both myself and anyone who faces discrimination.
Today I am able to see new places, meet new people, experience new cultures. And I can have the opportunity to use my voice and my visibility in this business to try to change not just the fashion world, but also the real world. If I can plant a seed of love, of acceptance in just one person – whether it’s acceptance of myself or of someone else – then we all win.
I realize I have been very fortunate, and I am profoundly grateful. I also think it is extremely important to share positive milestones and victories. If anything I say or do can plant a seed of love, acceptance or hope in another person in any small way, then I have used my platform for the good of all people.
That’s what I hope my legacy will be: that all trans people should believe that they can achieve anything they want to achieve, in any profession.
Beauty is something that transcends your body. It comes from the soul. I love being a woman. It’s great when you accept and love yourself.
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