For years, how beauty products are marketed has defined what many consumers deem ideal or inspirational — and, more often than not, beauty products and trends are imagined on thin, white, cisgendered people. Yet as a new decade approaches, what constitutes beauty is changing. It is no longer standardized.
The UK's Government Equalities Office estimates that there are approximately 200,000 to 500,000 trans people in the nation. But when it comes to beauty, trans people have not been truly visible in global advertisements or on brand Instagram feeds — until now. When trans model and activist Teddy Quinlivan was tapped by Chanel Beauty for a major campaign earlier this year, it signaled positive change for the trans community. "I am the first openly trans person to work for the house of Chanel and I am deeply humbled and proud to represent my community," Quinlivan wrote on Instagram. "This [is] a victory that made all of [the] shit worth it."
Great strides have also been made in the industry by brands, too, like Illamasqua, which has started to use gender-inclusive language in its Instagram captions. Non-gendered makeup lines are on the rise, too, including Jecca Makeup and Fluide. Transgender models are featured more by major brands, like in Lady Gaga’s promotional video for her global beauty brand, Haus Laboratories.
The beauty industry as a whole does seem to be working toward broader beauty standards and genuine inclusivity, but the transgender community is still marginalized in its mainstream. While buying and using beauty products may seem one of the lesser challenges faced by transgender people on a daily basis, talking to a number of trans women proved their appearance and how they present themselves to the world forms a key part of their identity. It can serve as a tool for self-expression, experimentation, empowerment, and more.
Ahead, five trans women share the poignant beauty moments that shaped their transitions.
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