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Shay Neary makes history by becoming first plus-size transgender woman to have her own fashion campaign


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A woman has made history by becoming the first plus-size transgender model to be the face of a major fashion campaign.

Coverstory NYC chose Shay Neary to star in its latest collection in a barrier-breaking move.

Shay, who was formerly represented by Trans Models modelling agency, appears in the latest shoot alongside Alisha Sheperd.

Shay Neary.

The 28-year-old said she was “ecstatic” when she was approached to star in the campaign.

“The idea of adding me to Coverstory’s advertising meant that I was going to do more than just model,” she says. “It meant that I was going to be a face for trans plus-size individuals.

“There is so much to be done. I’m glad that Coverstory is ahead of the curve. They are a fantastic representation on how brands should hold themselves.”

Shay Neary.

Shay began her transition at 16 and started hormone replacement therapy three years ago.

Identifying as transgender for the past 11 years, Shay is keen to raise more awareness about the issues facing her community – something Coverstory’s founder Heidi Kan is passionate about herself.

“The LGBT equality has always been very near and dear to me,” Heidi says. “In part because so many of my closest and oldest friends are part of that community.

She also believes the plus-size community is having a revolution – in promoting body diversity and redefining the public perception of beauty.

Heidi says she hit a stumbling block on during her search for a plus-size transgender model to star in her campaign.

“I actually wanted to feature a transgender plus-size model for Coverstory’s first season. It was always my goal.

“I searched everywhere. I checked with the usual modeling agencies and even tried scouting on my own, lurking outside the LGBT community centre on 13th street in NYC but with no luck. It was just impossible.”

Luckily, she found Shay a year later through New York’s Trans Models.

Shay hopes this campaign will not only raise awareness, but also open the door for new and exciting opportunites.

Shay Neary.

“Hopefully it’s the first of many more to come,” she says.

She told Mic: “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. We all have value and integrity. We deserve to be seen in mainstream media… Our lives have purpose.”

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