Given Brazilian model Lea T’s successful track record in the fashion industry, it came as no surprise when Redken appointed her in 2014 to represent its new Chromatic hair color collection. A muse of Givenchy designer Ricardo Tisci, Lea T’s segue into the world of beauty came naturally. Redken’s appointee, at first glance, is the obvious choice: a tall, willowy woman with a distinctive face, and impossibly high cheekbones framed by a glossy black mane. At first glance she is the perfect cover girl. But a glance does not allow for depth.
Digging a little deeper, one discovers that Lea T was born Leandro, and she is the first transgender model to ever front a global cosmetics brand. Her success in an industry known for its rigid and limited view of what is “beautiful” is a triumph she shares with the trans community. Lea T is more than just a pretty face with great hair; she is a loud and proud transwoman, a transgender advocate, and an anti-bullying activist. She uses her fame as a platform to give a voice to those who need it most. Her efforts continue to push the industry to find beauty in the diversity of identity.
“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.” Three years later she remains the face of Redken and is featured on their page as “Redken Muse + Anti-Bullying Campaigner.” Beneath this inspiring title are quick facts, including her weaknesses (chocolate), and how her hair tends to be frizzy. This snapshot into her nightly chocolate cravings and occasionally unruly hair allows us to see her humanity. It is vulnerable. It is relatable. And through this she is successfully changing what people consider to be beautiful and “normal.” Lea T has (trans)formed the industry, and her work is far from over.
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