2 August 2010

Lea T.

Why would a beautiful 28 year old model, whippet thin with an undoubtedly striking face lead to a media controversy when included in an ad campaign for Givenchy 2010?
Its nothing to do with her looks. Nor her upbringing as the child of a Brazilian football star, with all the privilege and wealth that brings. Nor is it to do with her nationality, in a photo that is racially diverse.

Lea's slender figure, long brown locks and enviable feminine beauty are not important, when it becomes time to acknowledge that despite having breasts she does not have a vagina. Born Leandro, he has gradually become she, and privilege was lost to an outcast status. Reborn as Lea and now thrust into the limelight, she has been herald as the shining beacon of hope for Transgender people.

The bare fabric of this story is that a fashion company has cast a transgender model in an ad campaign. This could easily have been predicted. Trans sexuality is still taboo, raw, ‘dirty’ and unexplored. It can be exploited to maximum publicity and is a PR dream. Homosexuality has become boring in fashion, too mainstream; it no longer holds shock value in an industry where gay men and women are represented in all tiers of the hierarchy.

Givenchy’s decision to exploit Lea to gain press attention is not ‘exploitation’ in the style of Primark factories alongside refugee camps and child employment. The exploitation of Lea as a transgender individual brings the subject to the media’s attention. Issues facing transsexuals and their suffering can be explored by journalists and thrust into the view of the public through mainstream publications.

The best example of such is Carine Roitfeld’s decision to include a nude photo of Lea in French Vogue. The picture shows both her womanly female bosoms and a glimpse of her male genitalia. The question now stands how many transexuals will we see in next season's runway?

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