Androgynous facial structures and body types have always been desired attributes in the fashion industry, but what happens when your androgynous look is centered in your gender identity, not in your attempt to further your success? You may come across some confusion, maybe even some discomfort or adversity from your peers and your potential employers. These are questions and concerns that affect Vogues newest cover girl, Andreja Pejić.
With her soft features and tousled blonde hair, it’s no question why she’s the newest face for the beauty brand Make Up For Ever. Pejić, who’s modeled for both men’s and women’s brands over the years, came out as transgender early in April of 2015. Pejić told Forbes Magazine that she knew she was different from an early age. The radiant 6’1″ blonde who was assigned male at birth went on to say “When [my] childhood ended, I had to suppress feminine characteristics and try and be a boy. I didn’t want to grow up at all because it meant becoming someone else. People ask you if you are gay but no one says you could be Trans.”
In high fashion, gender acceptance for individuals who are not cisgender has always been a slow progression. While transgender fashion models have had a prominent place on the scene for years now more as a token minority rather than being treated equally with the cis models, it’s only recently that they’ve begun to make strides toward having the same kinds of high-powered careers as their cis-gendered peers. Pejić is the second transgender model to land a significant beauty campaign behind Lea T.
T. was assigned male at birth due to her biological anatomy. She grew up the son of a world-famous Brazilian soccer star and a very religious Catholic mother. As a child growing up in Italy, T. always felt different and questioned her sexuality at a young age, as she told The Huffington Post. When T. began presenting as a woman, she felt more like her true self, but still struggled with this new life. “It’s really difficult because you fight with all the world,” she explained at the time. “You fight with your family, you fight with yourself, too, because you have to change everything in yourself.”
T. was the first to garner a major beauty contract through her contract with Redken, and now Andreja Pejić is paving the way for others with her contract with Make Up For Ever. For any model, landing a beauty contract is more than just a stepping stone, it opens doors in and outside of the industry which provides long-term financial security that modeling rarely yields. With cosmetics companies avoiding outdated ideas about gender and sourcing talent from a larger pool, advertising is becoming more modern and representative and every win for individuals who have different gender or sexual identities is a win for our community. Pejić and T. have the ability to put a new face and a new story to the modeling industry, something today’s trans* youth could really look up to.