Ariel Nicholson makes history as she becomes the first transgender model to grace the cover of Vogue U.S.
Nicholson, along with Bella Hadid, Sherry Shi, Kaia Gerber, Precious Lee, and Yumi Nu has been described as “models that are changing an industry.” Long gone are the days when skinny, white models would exclusively control the catwalk leaving little to no room for other colors or body types to find the space they needed, and we as a society craved.
In the exclusive interview, Maya Singer explores how these particular models have helped shape an industry so it is more reflective of the real world around us, and in doing so, the magazine has made history. Nicholson, aged twenty, has become the first transgender model to grace the cover of Vogue U.S and she spoke out about the importance of the move for the progression of the trans community.
“‘There are limits to what representation can do,’ Nicholson states bluntly – and she would know, having been in the public eye since she was thirteen, appearing in the PBS documentary Growing Up Trans. When she began modeling a few years later, she says, she embraced her role as a standard-bearer because she was passionate about transgender rights and believed trans visibility was important to further them. And she still believes that – up to a point.”
“‘Obviously it’s a big deal being the first trans woman on the cover of Vogue’, she says, ‘but it’s also hard to say exactly what kind of big deal it is when the effects are so intangible.'”
“‘People attach a lot of importance to symbols,’ offers her friend Gerber. Nicholson agrees with Gerber but also counters that treating someone as a symbol enacts its own form of erasure. ‘I’ve been put in this box—trans model. Which is what I am – but that’s not all I am.'”
A little while after the issue’s release, Nicholson took to her official Instagram to express her joy about the groundbreaking cover.
“Feeling unbelievably blessed to be a part of Vogue history as the first trans person to be featured on the cover of American Vogue. I’m grateful to work alongside legends,” she wrote. “I’m grateful for the communities that have shaped me and inspire me every day. And I’m so grateful for sweetest [Kaia Gerber] and [Maya Singer] and speaking with you both about visibility, identity, and creativity was both illuminating and inspiring.”
Nicholson isn’t the only LGBTQ+ model making history. In 2019, Laverne Cox made her cover debut in British Vogue while Indya Moore also graced the cover of Vogue Italia and Vogue India the following year.
We’re loving seeing all the representation! Keep your eyes peeled for Vogue’s September issue to see Ariel Nicholson as well as the other models in action.