To be a supermodel means to embody an era; to lend not just a face and figure but a voice to what's going on. It's why we fell in love with people like Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington — muses who were as close as family and thick as thieves, and brought Girl Power to the runway. We admired them for their honesty, their aggressive personalities, their ability to fuse fantasy with reality, and their respect for the craft.
But the industry has changed. These days, having a famous last name has superseded having a skill, and the ones who get the most work are more likely to have already been on a reality show. What they stand for? Sometimes, just a paycheck. But there's another community of rising models like none before them: They're brave, they're diverse, and they know how to sell clothes. That they're transgender is not the point — but it definitely matters.
Teddy Quinlivan, Leyna Bloom, Casil McArthur, Gia Garison, and Geena Rocero are fashion's present and future. Beyond being featured in some of the world's most prestigious magazines and runways, they're changing how the industry views women, and what a model should be. The fact that they're advocates, not just spokespeople — each in different ways — makes them more than worthy of the 'supermodel' title. Because, the very nature of modeling means that their bodies are valuable, desirable, and beautiful, which is a fight, a statement, and a protest in and of itself.
When we think of what makes a model a 'super,' it's not only the ability to win fans, but also to turn the runway into a global stage on which they represent the best of what's to come. Whereas getting on the catwalk was once the entire point, now, it marks the beginning of something more. We're in the middle of some revolutionary shifts in our culture, and models have been vocal about keeping the industry honest and pushing it forward. From calling out racial inequality and sexual harassment, to confronting body shamers, and turning their platforms into political stages, they're not afraid to fight for justice — and to not take no for an answer.
After several seasons that saw an increasing number of transgender models on the catwalk — from 12 to 45, during spring 2018 — transgender visibility is increasing, though it's all but clear. Teddy, Leyna, Casil, Gia, and Geena are some of the biggest names in the community, and it's time the world knows them by their first names, too. Though their stories are different, they all possess an honest investment in where fashion is going, and how their presence in the industry contributes to the cultural zeitgeist at large.
Don't forget that to employ an openly transgender model was once taboo; in fact, it was unheard of. At a moment when fashion is more than just the clothing on our backs, there's never been a more important time to get rid of labels than now.
Read the full story here: Refinery29