Model makes history by becoming first trans woman to front L'Oreal UK campaign

Transgender activist Munroe Bergdorf has become the first openly trans woman to front a L’Oreal UK campaign [Photo: Instagram]
Transgender activist Munroe Bergdorf has become the first openly trans woman to front a L’Oreal UK campaign [Photo: Instagram]

Seemingly fed up with the same white, thin and cis-gendered look displayed by many beauty brands, L’Oreal has set another record in the history books by casting transgender model Munroe Bergdorf in its latest campaign.

The activist-slash-model announced she was one of the faces of L’Oreal Paris UK’s new True Match campaign, making her the first openly trans woman to front an ad for the UK-based brand.

It follows in the footsteps of L’Oreal US who used transgender model Hari Nef in their January 2017 campaign.

In a heartwarming video, Munroe details how the lack of people like her in the public eye motivated her to say yes to the offer.

“I definitely set out to empower girls like me,” she says. “I think that our history definitely wasn’t being told. Not many people know that it was trans women of colour that fought for gay rights, that started the Stonewall Riots, which eventually led to the gay rights movement.”

She then goes on to talk about her personal relationship with make-up, adding: “Make-up’s definitely been a way of me reflecting how I feel inside and it’s a direct expression of who I am.”

“Going into a store and finding make-up that helps you achieve those small victories, I think that that’s amazing.”

The model thanked L’Oreal for giving her a platform to show transgender women (especially trans women of colour) in a positive light.

When I was growing up, transgender women – especially transgender women of colour had next to zero positive representation in the media and there was almost no information or understanding about us. If we were portrayed on television or in films, it was solely in tragic storylines or with our gender as the punchline of a joke. As an 8 year old, I remember watching the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, starring comedian Jim Carey, at a classmates house after school. Sorry to ruin the ending if you haven’t seen it (don’t bother), it ends in the movie’s villain being caught, stripped to her underwear and exposed as in fact ‘a man’. Then to add insult to injury, everyone in the room starts vomiting as they have all engaged in sex with her. This film was given a PG certificate. Imagine being eight years old, knowing that you’re transgender but not having the language to verbalise it and then seeing a scene like this including a trans person, played by a cis woman – it may see trivial to some but I carried that ‘punchline’ throughout my adolescence, it made me feel guilty and confused about who I truly was, so I pushed my true self into my subconscious and tried to be someone I was not. Fast forward two decades and I am so proud to be doing my bit for transgender visibility in the media. I’m by no stretch of the imagination a perfect person, but none of us are. However, I’m a whole person, with flaws, aspirations and interests. I’m often referred to a role model for the community, which annoys me because none of us need to be compared to each other. But I’m definitely down to be considered as a role option if anyone does see themselves in me or my story. Thank you L’Oréal for giving me this platform, I hope it reaches another little 8 year old trans girl and makes her feel a little more hopefull and a little less scared about her future, than what was installed in me when I was her age. The world is changing and I like how the world is changing. Because we are ALL worth it. #allworthit #yourstruly @lorealmakeup.

A post shared by Munroe Bergdorf (@munroebergdorf) on Aug 28, 2017 at 1:34am PDT

“When I was growing up, transgender women had next to zero positive representation in the media and there was almost no information or understanding about us,” she wrote on Instagram.

“Thank you L’Oréal Paris for giving me this platform. I hope it reaches another little eight-year-old trans girl and makes her feel a little more hopeful and a little less scared about her future, than what was installed in me when I was her age.”

While other brands are stepping up their gender game by using men as the face of their ads, the number of transgender people in beauty (and fashion) campaigns is still lacking.

Let’s hope moves like this will change that.

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