This is big: Tracey Africa Norman is finally getting the vindication she deserves — and we’re not referring to Laverne Cox’s homage to the pioneering transgender model in the pages of October’s Cosmo. After reading of Tracey’s ridiculously inspirational, tragically brief career as the first black transgender model of the 70s and early 80s in the Cut’s December cover story, Harper’s Bazaar art director and executive producer Christopher Sollinger was moved to action. (As was Norman’s former employer Clairol, who reinstated the 63-year-old beauty as the face of its brand, showcasing her signature auburn locks in its Nice ’n Easy “Color As Real As You Are” campaign.)
Now, thanks to Sollinger, Norman is at long last getting the Harper’s Bazaar cover she rightfully deserves…although we do wish it was for a less rarefied edition of the glossy. The latest printing of Harper’s Bazaar India features Tracey Africa Norman and fellow transgender model Geena Rocero (whose viral TED talk you can watch here), as well as Soo Joo Park, Hind Sahli, Pyper and Daisy America, Emanuela de Paula, Cora Emmanuel, Hannelore Knuts and former America’s Next Top Model guru Tyra Banks. Entitled “The Nine Wonders of the World,” the celebration of diversity shows each of the nine women wearing a custom headpiece by American artist Isaac Aden. The Chanel and Roberto Cavalli-filled shots were lensed by Stockton Johnson and styled by KC Jones.
Of the project, Sollinger told the Cut, “This entire project stems from wanting to do something with Tracey. The way she had to live in hiding and in fear, being such a beautiful woman with so many talents and gifts, just felt so wrong. She’s someone who should be celebrated. I wanted to create an image that she would be able to look at and feel proud and seen and loved and appreciated.”
Disappointingly, it seems it took some doing for Sollinger to actually realize his vision. First, he had to pitch his idea to several imprints of the magazine before its Indian iteration finally signed on (“India is actually very inclusive of transgender people,” he told the Cut). Second, Tyra, the most recognizable of the cover stars, initially turned down the project. However, after Sollinger shared Tracey’s story with Banks, as well as the obstacles he’d faced finding an outlet that would publish the covers, the OG supermodel totally 180ed. “Tyra flew to New York at her own expense,” Sollinger said. “She doesn’t need to do a nine-model multicover series, nor do the other models, but she felt moved and wanted to do what she could to make it happen.”
According to Sollinger’s research, Tracey and Geena are the first transgender women ever to land a Harper’s Bazaar cover. “Showcasing white woman after white woman on covers does not work anymore, we need to show the women of the world that is of now. The world is changing and with this story we want to be a part of that global revolution,” he told People.
At the end of the day, as Tracey Africa’s story clearly demonstrates, visibility is everything and we’re thrilled that leading publications like Harper’s Bazaar are giving the transgender movement a platform worthy of its cause (even if its creative director had to jump through hoops to make it happen). Sollinger, Norman and Rocero are all proof positive of the power of perseverance.
Click through the slideshow below to take in the full, beautifully diverse cover series.
[ via the Cut ]