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Transgenders pave (run)way for the future of modeling industry

Aeshwarya Singh Mundel | Updated on: 29 March 2018, 22:31 IST

Diversity continues to be a hot-button issue at Fashion Weeks across the globe. Designer Christian Siriano staged a coup of sorts and made headlines for his usage of plus-size models in his show. But diversity pertains to more than just size and race. Right?


Bending the rules (if that is what you want to call them) of the modeling world, a new breed of supermodels – the transgenders – is making waves in the world of high fashion. Never has the need to get rid of labels been felt than now.

For the first time in decades, the modeling industry is witnessing a growing diversity in gender. As designers depart from the cookie-cutter body type norms, we see a variedness in the form of wheelchair-bound women gliding down the runway, to high-fashion models with Down Syndrome and acid-attack survivors doing the catwalk. And to say the inclusion of the queer gender is just a sampling of the major shakeups is the start of a cultural revolution and acceptance.

Gone are the days when having a famous last name did the trick. The industry has opened its arms to a class of individuals that are brave, diverse, and know how to sell clothes. That they're transgender is not the point — but it definitely matters.

Thanks in part goes to the liberal, open-minded, positive, and expressive demeanour of the Millennials, as strides in the fashion and beauty industries become more pronounced. While on the cusp of a major paradigm shift in the fashion industry,  they also felt the need to welcome what so many before them believed unimaginable.

Fortunately, the work of several emerging and veteran transgender models, including the establishment of transgender modelling agencies, has given millions to look up to in the mainstream fashion and beauty industries. Slay Models and Trans Models are two agencies that cater to hopefuls outside of the cisgender community.

While some transgender models — like Brazil's Valentina Sampaio, who graced the cover of French Vogue, or Andreja Pejic, who walked the Fashion Week — have found success, most continue to face a rigid wall of prejudice.

The good news: Instagram has given the cisgender a platform like no other. For her second fashion week appearance, designer Kim Shui debuted her collection at Chelsea Market, casting two transgender girls — both from Instagram.

Besides being featured in some of the world's most prestigious magazines and having walked for the biggest designers, transgender models are changing the definition of a typical fashion model. In the middle of revolutionary cultural shifts, they are worthy of the 'supermodel' title as they show the world that the very nature of modelling means that their bodies are valuable, desirable, and beautiful, which is a fight, a statement, and a protest in itself.

First published: 29 March 2018, 15:40 IST
Aeshwarya Singh Mundel

#Mustang with a knack for traveling & writing~