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Meet The Transgender Woman Making Beauty History

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Photo: Courtesy of Redken
Model Lea T is hot right now. She is, after all, one of Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci's muses, a darling of Carine Roitfeld, and she graced that memorable cover of Love magazine, locking lips with Kate Moss. The Brazilian is beloved for her flawless runway strut, impossibly high cheekbones, and pretty major head of hair.
It should come as little to no surprise, then, that she just inked a deal with beauty brand Redken, which announced today that she is the new face of its Chromatics hair-color line. "It's an honor and a responsibility at the same time," she says. "I know many women will look at my face and think about [the brand]."
Of course, it helps that Lea has, arguably, the most essential qualifier for being a campaign girl. "My mum has beautiful hair, and when I was young, I was so envious of it," the model says. "Hair is so important for a woman, and I'm so lucky [mine] is natural, strong, and shiny."
But, there's something unique about Redken selecting her for its new campaign: She identifies as a transgender woman. Fashion has (recently) been more accepting of the trans* community: Bruce Weber's Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters campaign for Barneys comes to mind, as do Andreja Pejic's appearance in Gaultier ads and Laverne Cox' InStyle feature.
The beauty industry, however, is a different ball game. It's notoriously conservative when it comes to contracts, defaulting to traditional gender and appearance norms. But, maybe things are (finally?) changing. Recently, we've rejoiced over Lupita Nyong'o being chosen as the face of Lancôme and cheered age diversity in castings. And, of course, MAC has always made forward choices, like selecting RuPaul to front its Viva Glam campaign back in 1994 (and again, 20 years later).
So, cheers to more brands breaking the mold. "We're all people with our own personalities, our own beauty, our own lives," Lea says. "I love working with Redken because they appreciate all kinds of beauty. They believe in the individuality of the person, and I think that's really important."
"Being the new face of Redken is a dream come true," she adds, remembering seeing glamorous advertisements when she was younger and thinking, "It was not my world." Now, she's representing a label you can see at practically every salon in the nation. And, hopefully, she'll inspire lots of people to think about beauty a little differently...if they have killer hair, of course.
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