Leyna Bloom’s Push To Be The First Trans Victoria’s Secret Model

Leyna Bloom’s Push To Be The First Trans Victoria’s Secret Model

By Joelle Bayaa-Uzuri

I remember casually scrolling the ‘Explore’ page on Instagram when I had passed the photo of a woman that was beyond gorgeous.  

Her name, Leyna Bloom; and up until then, I hadn’t heard of her.  But after doing a little research, I soon discovered her story and instantly felt both drawn and connected to her journey.  

“It was her past that drove her to succeed and break down barriers and walls in the modeling world.”

Leyna Bloom is from Chicago, Illinois; born to a Filipino mother and an African-American father.  Bloom was raised by her father following her mother’s deportation. Growing up, Bloom knew she was a woman, even going as far as dropping out of Chicago Academy for the Arts because the men’s full scholarship awarded to her would’ve prevented her from dancing as a woman.  She ended up moving to New York where she faced homelessness; surviving by waiting tables during the day and working the underground New York ballroom scene by night.

It was her past that drove her to succeed and break down barriers and walls in the modeling world.  It was that continued determination and persistence that garnered the attention of famous fashion brands such as ‘The Blonds’ and ‘Chromat’.  While she built a name for herself, she still faced many hardships and struggles within the modeling industry. In an industry continuously dominated by white, cisgendered female models, Bloom continued to champion not only racial diversity but gender diversity and representation.  As a trans woman of color, she had to work three times as hard to gain the attention of fashion brands.

In October 2017, Bloom became the first trans woman of color to appear on the cover of Vogue India.   While some trans women shy away from that type of visibility, she used it as an open call for wider diversity and visibility within the fashion-modeling industry.  

After Vogue India, Bloom set her sights on a bigger history-making goal: to be the first trans woman of color to walk the runway for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show.  The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been around for 23 years and has never had a trans woman of color (or any trans women) walk the show.  This past April, Bloom launched a Twitter campaign in support of her being the first trans woman of color in the show by tweeting “Trying to be the 1st Trans model of color walk a #VictoriaSecret Fashion show. #transisbeautiful #LeynaBloom 💕,”, along with two pictures of her in a bikini.  Her tweet and social media campaign picked up momentum and people across the world showed their support, with tens of thousands of retweets, likes, and reposts.  Bloom’s wish is that a big brand such as Victoria’s Secret could set a bigger social tone of inclusion.  Bloom’s fight for inclusion extends to all people of color and women of all body types; not just trans women of color.  And while Victoria’s Secret has yet to comment on her Twitter campaign, or reach out to Bloom, she is still hopeful.  And so are we.

Beauty, brains, and a social activist; what’s not to love and adore about Leyla Bloom?  My only hope is that Victoria’s Secret takes notice, and puts her on that runway.  

Want more fashion? Check out our article on the unique evolution of trans style!

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