Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue is one of the most prestigious and world famous institutions for models around the world. In 56 years since it began, the special edition covered stars like Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, and Ashley Graham to its household name status. Each year it ushers new set of faces from around the world.
The parameters of success have historically been narrowed but the concept has evolved to present the current time. The 2020 is really special for SI as it features the trans woman to grace its pages, a Brazilian model, Valentina Sampaio. She is hugely known for breaking boundaries as she was the first trans model to be featured in the cover of Vogue magazine and she made the cut very special.
“The team at SI has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way,” said Valentina Sampaio with Vogue. “I am excited and honored to be part [of this].”
The inclusive high spirit of SI’s model line up can be credited to MJ Day, the long time Editor-in-Chief of the publication. Day included Graham as the first time plus-size model in 2016; Halima Aden as its first time Hijabi face in 2019 and had Banks return at the age of 46 to dazzle on the cover in 2019. One thing can easily be deduced that for Day, the character plays way more important than how someone looks in a bikini. “Our goal in selecting who we feature is centered around identifying some of the most inspiring, interesting, and multidimensional women that we can find,” Day says.
Sampaio has drawn Day’s attention for her activities for the LGBTQIA community. “We are deeply moved that Valentina was willing to put her trust in us,” says Day. “We didn’t think twice about wanting to amplify her voice and message and give her a platform to advocate from on behalf of her aspirations and the trans community.”
Then again, not everyone can welcome change in society and culture, and their reaction clearly says that. For example, hip-hop star Boosie reacted to the magazine featuring Sampaio. He also rehashed the previous take on homosexuality, trans, and the “traditional households.”
Boosie also said how much he learned from his father’s hindsight and truly understanding him now that he’s an adult.
Sampaio has always been vocal about the issues of the LGBT community in Brazil. She hopes that her spotlight on world-famous modeling can shine a bright light on that particular minority issue in Brazil.
“Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community globally—three times that of the US,” says Sampaio. “Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds.”
Good Morning America has covered this news which could be an excellent way for her to win over a completely new audience. Day said, “This is what we can do as a brand, especially during these uncertain times, support her and celebrate her.”
“We are all human and we all want to be accepted and loved. I realize I have been very fortunate and I am forever grateful,” Sampaio said in a statement to E! News. “I also think it is extremely important to share positive milestones and victories. I advocate for people who face prejudice and are not given the basic level of human rights to exist with minimal dignity. If anything I say or do can plant a seed of love, that is my goal and life’s work.”
The good news for the LGBT community in Brazil is that Paulo Roberto Iotti Vecchiatti, the attorney representing both plaintiffs in the joint legal actions, said attacks on LGBTQ people should be considered a form of racism, which Brazil’s constitution defines as any “discrimination against fundamental rights and freedoms.”
People should be open-minded and believe in love, live, and let live ideology in our society instead of having a narrow mindset like Boosie.