The fashion industry has continued to evolve over the years. In terms of diversity, there has been a sudden influx of new models that are brave enough to challenge mainstream fashion. For instance, plus-size models have finally gotten the spotlight during New York Fashion Week, and the very first plus-size male model, Zack Miko, entered the scene early this year.
Another name joining the roster is Shay Neary, the first-ever plus-size transgender model in history. Neary, who is a native from the Poconos, got to work with inclusive fashion brand Coverstory for their latest campaign.
Shay Neary Becomes Fashion’s First Transgender Plus-Size Model
Transgender women have had a great 2016. Hari Nef, Jazz Jennings, Andreja Pejic, and Laverne Cox are just some of the names who made history by appearing on magazine covers, starring on television shows, and walking down fashion runways.
So just as the year ends, yet another major player is looking to bring more diversity to the industry. Plus-size model Shay Neary is a 28-year-old transgender woman. She was born in the Poconos and raised in Pennsylvania, where she learned how to get into terms with her sexuality. Neary admits that she started doing drag during her senior year in high school. She didn’t really know what she was until an acquaintance introduced her to the term “trans.”
Neary told Refinery:
“A year later, I started transitioning. My freshman year of college, I realized how uncomfortable it was to be around a bunch of men and that I didn’t relate to men at all. So I took all of my male clothes and threw them in the dumpster. I borrowed clothes from my friends, then I went to a Salvation Army and bought a ton of awkward clothing that I should probably never wear in public ever again, and I started living [as a woman] full-time.
“It was difficult to transition when I was living in Pennsylvania; I had to travel to Philadelphia to get hormones from a clinic. It’s not an easy process. Before college, I was basically living full-time as a woman. I wanted to push that [further] by starting HRT [hormone replacement therapy]. So I moved to New York, I fell in love, got a job, and started my hormone and gender therapies. I’ve been on HRT for over four-and-a-half years now. But I’ve been ‘full-time’ for about 11 years.”
It did not take too long for Shay Neary to begin working as a model. At first, it was difficult for her to find a job as she was the only plus model at her former agency. Things began to finally look up when she got into contact with Coverstory, who happened to be on the hunt for a woman who can represent the trans/plus-size community.
For Shay Neary, being given the chance to work for a major campaign will allow her to show the world that transgender people deserve to be given the spotlight as well.
“We have to all be seen. Not just some of us, not just ones who fit the transgender bill. Not just the streamline passable woman or the plastic Kim Kardashian wannabe,” Neary said. “We all have value and integrity. We deserve to be seen in mainstream media.. . . Our lives have purpose.”