Friday, December 10, 2010
Lea T, A Work in Progress
Lea T, an upcoming and just-on-the-verge of super stardom, fashion model was born male. But, so what. Her gender reassignment surgery is on the horizon. So, so what's the fuss?
Well, for one, she's attractive, beautiful even. Two, she is a great model, able to carry an elegance and style into her work, which could only be considered a gift. And for three, her transgendered persona is uber topical at least for the early twenty-first century.
Leandro Cerezo was born in Brazil and is the son of soccer icon, Toninho Cerezo. Known as Leo as a boy, she describes her father's reactions, “When papa came home he would look at me and say there was something wrong with me. In the years to come, everyone started to pray that I was gay. It would have been the lesser evil for a religious family used to rules and type of colonial, rigid way of life.”
As an adolescent, Lea T says she was attracted to both boys and girls, and that the idea of transsexuality terrified her. “I was curious then recoiled with fear, telling myself, ‘I am not like that...’'.
She was discovered by Riccardo Tisci. While attending school in Italy, she met Riccardo. The designer was still studying at Central St. Martins in London, when he recognized her "inherent femininity". “One night he encouraged me to wear pumps to a party,” she recalled in French Vogue. “We went shopping for ‘drag queen’ shoes and we bleached my eyebrows. It was a revelation.”
Lea T's work in the Fall/Winter Givenchy 2010 ad campaign was a coming out. (She is second from the left.)
It was Tisci, who is now the director of Haute Couture at Givenchy, helping out his former personal assistant get that assignment. But be clear, it was not a mere favor. Tisci believes in Lea T's elegance and her ability to transcend the runway. The relationship between Mr. Tisci and Lea T is intertwined and not entirely apparent. Perhaps out of respect or perhaps for other reasons the "T" in Lea T is for Tisci!
Last summer, French Vogue, featured Lea T. Her profile was richly presented and the nude photo of her
sent reverberations around the world. With her hand barely covering her in-your-face genitals, the emotions stirred by anybody viewing this image are definite. Indeed, much like the first kiss between Michael Hall and Matthew St. Patrick in Six Feet Under,
Lea T's Vogue image will have a lasting, haunting quality. A milestone... of sorts.
Despite her successes, life remains problematic for the Brazilian transgendered model. She is quoted in the Guardian “I would wander the streets, full of hormones, depressed, with people laughing behind my back…
Lea, who says she “cannot allow [herself] the luxury of being in love”, is pessimistic about her chances of finding happiness with someone else. Those transsexuals who do enter into serious relationships, she says, often do so by keeping their past from their partners.
“They live as hypocrites; it is a variation on solitude,” she said. “We transsexuals are born and grow up alone. After the operation we are born again, but once again alone. And we die alone. It is the price we pay.”
Whether Lea T's planned reassignment surgery will impact on her career is unknown. And if it does, what direction will such an alteration will bring. Nonetheless, she will remain a model of international repute. Inasmuch as male models generally earn less than females will the transformed Lea T make more ... ah, who cares!
And so it goes.