Groundbreaking! For the first time ever, a transgender model — Anjali Lama — is gracing the runways at Lakmé Fashion Week, India’s biggest fashion event.
The brunette beauty, 32, who told CNN that she was bullied growing up in rural Nepal, stunned on the runway at the Gen Next show in Mumbai earlier this month. Plus, she also landed her first big cover — the latest issue of Elle India, marking the first time a transgender model has starred on the mag.
Lama says that the Blue Diamond Society, a Nepal-based group that advocates for sexual minorities, helped her overcome her tough childhood and come into her own. “I realized I’m not the only one, this is my society,” she told CNN.
The model also credits them for encouraging her to launch a modeling career. “Coming out was a major step for me, so considering a career in modeling seemed like a long shot,” Lama said. “But my friends insisted I try it out, and their encouragement made me feel good.” While she didn’t book jobs immediately, she added, “I remembered what my mother told me about not giving up, and moving forward. I knew someone, somewhere will give me an opportunity.”
Lama got her first big break modeling for Nepalese designer Subexya Bhadel, and has been working ever since, finally scoring a spot during Lakmé Fashion Week for the first time this year.
Lama isn’t the only transgender model making waves in fashion right now. Brazilian-born Valentina Sampaio is featured on the latest issue of Vogue Paris. The mag’s editor in chief, Emmanuelle Alt, called the model, who also boasts a contract with L’Oréal Paris, “the absolute equal of Gisele, Daria, Edie or Anna.”
Be a trendsetter! Sign up now for the Stylish by Us Weekly newsletters to get celeb fashion, beauty tips, and more delivered directly to your inbox.