Model Behavior

After 3O Years, The First Black Transgender Model Makes A Triumphant Return To The Fashion World

"I was being accepted for who I was, and they wanted me to come back as that person."

Model Behavior is an A Plus series featuring fashion models who promote body positivity, and work to create inclusivity and diversity within the industry by expanding our definition of conventional beauty.

While there are many progressive people working hard to make the fashion industry a more accepting space, this world wasn't always so welcoming.  Model Tracey "Africa" Norman experienced this firsthand after making history in the 1970s for being the first Black transgender model. She appeared in ads for Clairol and in the pages of Italian Vogue, but kept her true identity a secret for most of her career. When it was discovered, her time in the modeling business came to an abrupt end.

But now things have taken a happy turn. 


At the age of 63, Norman is back modeling for Clairol.

Things have truly come full circle for the model who once appeared on a box of Clairol hair dye. Today, she stars in the Clairol Nice 'n Easy "Color As Natural As You" Are campaign. The campaign is all about having the confidence to celebrate what makes you unique.

In a video for the campaign, Norman talks about her history.

"Back in the 70s, it was a different world, especially for transgender women," she explains in the video above. "Because I was working as a female model, for me, personally, I had to hide my truth, because if I was to tell, I was sure I would get fired."

Norman recounts the day her truth was discovered, and how after that all her modeling work stopped.

Fast forward some 30 years later, Norman describes what it was like to receive the call from Clairol about working together again. The call came after The Cut ran a story back in December 2015 about Norman's life.

"At the time, I just had so many emotions going through me. I was being accepted for who I was, and they wanted me to come back as that person, and not be something other than what I truly am—a woman of color, of course."

She adds, "Don't be afraid to live your truth. And if an opportunity knocks, don't be afraid to go for it. It's good to be back, and it's really good to be me."

Norman's story shows how far we have come in a few decades in the way of equality for the LGBTQ community. We still have a ways to go, but her video highlights that progress is being made. 

Furthermore, the "Color As Natural As You Are" campaign shows what a beautiful thing it is to be able to live your life as you true self, and for others to be accepting of it.

(H/T: The Cut)


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