lea t promotes diversity as the first transwoman to front a global beauty campaign

We split hairs with transgender rights activist and anti-bullying campaigner Lea T about her new campaign for Redken and what beauty means to her.

by Felicity Kinsella
25 November 2014, 10:10am

Lea T has been a spokesperson for diversity within fashion ever since she bought her first pair of heels, as Leandro, with Riccardo Tisci four years ago. However difficult it was, Lea was never one to shy away from the fact that she was born a girl in a boy's body and began sex re-assignment surgery in 2010. Instead she decided to use her story to change people's perceptions of beauty in a big way. Becoming the face of Givenchy on the condition that Mr Tisci was open about her transexuality, posing nude for French Vogue before the operation and locking lips with Kate Moss on the cover of LOVE, this Brazilian belle has just as much to add to her CV as she does to add to her portfolio. And now she's got one more string to add to her bow as the face (and tresses) of haircare brand Redken, becoming the first transgender model to front a global beauty campaign. Whatever adversity she may have faced in the past, everyone knows that gorgeous hair is the best revenge...

Givenchy autumn/winter 14. Photography Mitchell Sams.

What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty to me is attitude.

When do you feel most beautiful?
Hard to say, as I'm not a person who considers herself beautiful, but let's say that the moments I feel most beautiful would be during summer in Ibiza.

Who is the most beautiful person in the world?
My mother.

What are your top beauty tips?
Healthy food; I'm vegetarian, try to live a healthy life as I think beauty comes from inside.

What was it like making out with Kate Moss?
I was very nervous at first but we immediately found each other, Mert & Marcus left us lots of freedom to do what we liked and we came to the point where everything was comfortable and it turned out great.

How do you think people's perceptions of beauty have been changed by social media?
Media obviously changed perceptions of beauty, my opinion is definitely that media nowadays, with socials, TV etc. is giving us images that are less sophisticated and classy as they used to be.

How do you feel they've changed towards the transgender community in recent years?
There is still a lot of work to do but I have to admit that society in recent years has started to have a different approach towards the transgender community. Compared to years ago, some societies are starting to believe in and acknowledge us.

Lea T in Redken's new campaign.

How does it feel to be the first transgender model to become the face of a major beauty campaign?
I am very proud. It fills my heart with joy. We live in a new era where societies are starting to believe in us. I think this will happen more frequently and as I said, this fills my heart with joy!

What advice would you give to trans kids who are trying to present their true selves to the world?
This is a very difficult subject as it's hard to speak in a general way about this very delicate issue. The only advice that I can give goes towards their families and it is: to be close to them. It's important that they have support in their decisions. 

Who are your idols?
I don't really have idols but I admire a lot people who fight for their rights.

What would you be doing if you weren't modelling?
I started my studies in art direction but nowadays I would say that I would have loved to be a vet for my love of animals.

What do you get up to when you're not working?
It depends where I am in the world but mostly I love to spend time with my whole family.

What was the last good movie you watched?
It's not a brand new movie but I think the last movie I watched that was really good was Life of Pi.

What are your hopes for the future?
More respect for people, animals and nature.



Text Felicity Kinsella

Lea T
Riccardo Tisci