This stunning plus-size transgender model is transforming fashion
The fashion industry isn’t exactly known for its broad selection of models.
But that’s now changing, and one very special transgender woman is leading the way.
Shay Neary, a 28-year-old living in New York, has landed a huge fashion deal.
She’s now modelling for Coverstory, a fashion label that say they’re dedicated to designing for people of all sizes and identities.
Neary had previously been signed to modelling agency Transmodel, but even there she found she struggled for work because of her bigger build.
“In my time at the agency, I was the only plus model, so not many campaigns were interested in booking me,” Neary said in an interview with Mic.
“They wanted the more European-looking girls, or androgynous girls.
“Not a bigger-framed woman like myself.”
She originally started out doing drag while in her final year of school.
But eventually a friend suggested that she might be trans, and that’s when she started to transition.
“I remember taking off my attire from the evening, and I was covering my chest and she goes, ‘Why are you covering your chest?’ and I said, ‘Um, I don’t know. This is what I always do’,” Neary tells Refinery 29.
“She asked, ‘Do you know you’re trans? You’re covering your chest because you feel like you’re exposed,'” she says.
“I very much love my body: my shape, my representation, my gender.
“I enjoy using fashion as a vehicle to portray how I want to be observed.
“When people meet me, they always say, ‘Oh, you dress so well!’ and ‘Oh, you’re so well-put together for a big person.’
“I hate those comments; it’s as if plus-size women don’t know how to dress.
“God forbid we don’t wear hot pants every day of the week and caftans to brunch.”
Heidi Kan, founder of Coverstory, says she found it almost impossible to find a model like Neary.
Trans models have made their way into major catwalks in the past year, but they’re usually dressed androgynously, as if to make it obvious their trans, Neary argues.
The 28-year-old wants to move beyond it being a story, though, so more labels than Coverstory embrace broad fashion ranges.
“A Real Housewife shouldn’t be your only target clientele.
“And I would love to be able to go shop with my girlfriends in the store.
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“But I can’t, and I hate that. I have to go to another store to do my shopping, because they don’t sell my size in the same stores that they sell my friends’ clothes.”
As she writes on one of her Instagram posts: “We were born to be real, not to be perfect.”