Trans Model Carmen Carrera Is Transforming Fashion
Like most women, Carmen Carrera finds it a little rude when strangers ask questions about her genitals. But Carrera, a reality TV star, model, and, potentially, one of next year’s Victoria’s Secret’s “angels,” is trans, which means people ask her about them anyway.
I got the chance to talk gender—and fashion—with Carrera a few days ago during a Skype date. The call connected and I asked her to go on video. “I look like shit,” she whined, and then went on. Needless to say, she does not look like shit. She’s already got the mermaid-like Victoria’s Secret waves going on, and she has on minimal makeup, with the exception of black eyeliner and mascara. It’s a Saturday evening, and she wears a bare-bones, gray spaghetti strap top—the uniform of an off-duty Cindy Crawford in the 90s. Carrera seems to be getting more famous by the week, thanks to some of the amazing work she’s done lately. Plus, her fans made a petition calling for her to become the first trans Victoria’s Secret model.
Although she’s obviously been quite successful at this point in her career, Carrera still struggles with intense insecurity issues, and is constantly fighting the labels people try to stick to her. I ask her if there’s one thing she can’t stand being asked in the flurry of media attention.
“Yeah, when they ask me if I got the sex change surgery. It’s kind of weird. At the beginning of my transition when people would ask me, I would answer. But now, it’s kind of getting to the point where I don’t think that that’s relevant. Like, I wouldn’t sit here and ask you about your genitals.”
The Bangladeshis Who Make Your Clothes Have Been Given a Raise
As discouraging as it is, no number of documentaries or worthy articles is suddenly going to make everyone in the world care about the people making our underwear for $1.50 a day. A large part of that is probably because it’s hard to comprehend how shocking the working conditions in Bangladesh’s clothing factories are until you visit them for yourself—until you meet the workers being slapped around by their bosses and the kids being hidden on the factory roof every time Western buyers come to town.
In response to those working conditions and wages, which are among the lowest in the world, some workers have been striking for weeks, their frustration often turning to violence as they clash with police. And those violent protests have won them what looks like a victory: the Bangladesh government announced over the weekend that the minimum wage for garment workers is going to be increased by 77 percent, to $67 a month.
I flew out to Bangladesh a couple of weeks before the pay raise was announced to meet some garment workers. Upon arrival, a contact took me to a poor factory neighborhood—a slum, comprised as it was of a few beaten up huts—on the outskirts of Dhaka. There, he introduced me to Bilkiss, a sweet, pretty 18-year-old who had worked at the same garment factory for five years. She is one of an estimated 4 million in Bangladesh who make our clothes.
PHOTOS BY BEN TAYLOR
STYLIST: ALEXANDRA MARZELLA
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