Andreja Pejic is breaking down the standards of beauty in the fashion industry with every fierce step she takes down the runway.
The 23-year-old transgender model has walked in dozens of runway shows in her career, but this is the first time she's landed a major beauty contract. She told Vogue this month that she's been named the new face of Make Up For Ever. Pejic is following in the footsteps of Lea T, who was the first transgender model to snag a major beauty contract via her deal with Redken, and Jazz Jennings, the transgender teen who got a part in Clean & Clear's #SeeTheRealMe campaign.
Pejic, who’s modeled for both men’s and women’s brands, has come a long way since last July, when she came out as transgender.
When Vogue caught up with her this month — for its first-ever profile on a transgender model (!!!) — she was preparing to take on her first runway as a fully-transitioned woman, since undergoing her gender-confirmation surgery last year.
The Bosnian, who has been modeling since she was a small child, said she "wanted to stop puberty in its early tracks" when she was younger, adding, "I was worried about my feet being too big, my hands being too big, my jawline being too strong." She felt a sense of relief, though, on her first fashion job, when she noticed that all the models around her had similar proportions to her. She told herself, "Every girl in fashion is exactly the same. I don't need to worry!”
Then, in her adolescence, she began taking synthetic, puberty-suppressing hormones, and eventually went on to have the gender-confirmation surgery. Before she did, though, many people warned her that it might actually hurt her career. "There was definitely a lot of 'Oh, you're going to lose what's special about you. You're not going to be interesting anymore. There are loads of pretty girls out there,'" she said. One agent reportedly told her, "It’s better to be androgynous than a tranny." Clearly, she could not be dissuaded.
In the profile, Pejic seems optimistic that society is turning a corner in terms of acceptance of the transgender community. "We’re finally figuring out that gender and sexuality are more complicated," she said.
And it's true. The fashion industry is starting to realize that they need to do away with their outdated ideas about gender. Advertising has responded by becoming — slowly but surely — more representative.
We're hoping Pejic's success will pave the way for more underrepresented models to make their way down the catwalk. And we're hoping this conversation keeps going — so that more acceptance continues past the catwalk.
Photo Credit: Patrick Demarchelier/Vogue