The Incredible Reason Rihanna Didn’t Use Trans Models In Her New Cosmetics Campaign

Everyone is talking about Ri-Ri's new Fenty Beauty.

Cashing in on the “trans moment,” beauty companies have been quick to add transgender and gender-nonconforming models in their campaigns. Sometimes its a statement of inclusion, but other times its simply to virtue-signal or make headlines.

Rihanna has generated plenty of buzz with her new Fenty Beauty line, and one fan asked RiRi why she didn’t go a similar route and use a trans model in the new ad campaign. (The singer has promoted the cosmetics as being inclusive of women of different skin tones, ethnicities and backgrounds.)

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“Fenty Beauty campaign is awesome,” wrote @ibertootero. “Next time you record something [you] should invite a trans girl to the group.”

The 29-year-old singer responded thoughtfully, explaining that she didn’t want to participate in tokenism.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted trans women throughout the years, but I don’t go around doing trans castings! Just like I don’t do straight non trans women castings.” she replied.

“I respect all women,” she added. “Whether they’re trans or not is none of my business. I don’t think it’s fair that a trans woman, or man, be used as a convenient marketing tool. Too often I see companies doing this to trans and black women alike. There’s always just that one spot in the campaign for the token ‘we look mad diverse’ girl/guy! It’s sad!”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.