News and Commentary

Chanel Beauty Selects Transgender Model Teddy Quinlivan For Ad Campaign
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 28: Model Teddy Quinlivan wears a black and orange dress, a Vuitton bag, outside Chloe, during Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020, on February 28, 2019 in Paris, France.
Edward Berthelot / Contributor / Getty Images

Following the lead of Victoria’s Secret and Playboy, Chanel Beauty has enlisted a transgender model as the face of the brand’s ad campaign.

“Chanel Beauty is making history: the new face of the iconic fashion house is also one of the industry’s hottest names,” reports NY Daily News. “American Teddy Quinlivan, the 25-year-old transgender model who has taken the fashion world by storm since she was discovered by Louis Vuitton’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière in 2015, is a fierce activist for equality.”

Quinlivan, a biological male presenting himself as a woman, came out as trans in 2017, fearing that the move would sink Quinlivan’s career. It did the exact opposite.

“She drew universal applause by some of the big names of global fashion such as designer Marc Jacobs and British makeup artist Pat McGrath, one of the most influential makeup artists in the world according to Vogue and one of the world’s 100 most influential people,” the outlet continued.

Quinlivan announced the big news on Monday via Instagram, declaring it a triumphant moment for representation and a victory in a life besieged by constant struggles.

“I find I don’t cry anymore when things are sad, but isn’t it interesting when we shed tears in moments of triumph,” Quinlivan’s post began. “This was one of those triumphant cry moments for me. My whole life has been a fight. From being bullied at school consistently, kids threatening to kill me and going into graphic detail how they were going to do it, my own father beating me and calling me a f**ot, to receiving industry blowback after speaking publicly about being sexually assaulted on the job.”

Quinlivan said that the Chanel Beauty selection makes all the past struggles “worth it,” adding that Quinlivan felt deeply humbled to represent the trans community.

“I had walked 2 shows for Chanel while I was living in stealth (stealth meaning I hadn’t made my trans identity public yet) and when I came out I knew I’d stop working with some brands, I thought I’d never work with the iconic house of Chanel ever again,” Quinlivan continued. “But here I am in Chanel Beauty Advertising. I am the first openly trans person to work for the house of Chanel, and I am deeply humbled and proud to represent my community.”

Quinlivan concluded the post with a message about overcoming obstacles no matter how difficult.

“The world will kick you down, spit on you, and tell you you’re worthless,” said Quinlivan. “It’s your job to have the strength to stand up and push on, to keep fighting, Because if you give up then you will never experience the tears of triumph. Thank you to everyone who made this dream a reality!”

Chanel’s inclusion of Quinlivan comes weeks after Victoria’s Secret broke barriers by including transgender Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio among its roster. In 2017, Playboy introduced its first-ever transgender playmate — Ines Rau. The move drew immediate criticism on social media, with former porn star Jenna Jameson leading the way.

“I have a problem with it just like I have a problem with a transgender competing against biological women in sports,” Jameson tweeted. “I think it’s setting fire to an iconic brand and pandering to this ridiculous PC world we live in.”

Playboy disagreed, going as far as comparing Ines Rau to the magazine’s first black playmate in 1965.