In case you haven't noticed, the industry is changing. Yes, it's changing at a glacial pace, but on all fronts, strides in diversity and inclusivity are being made. We just experienced our most diverse Fashion Month ever, where a record 93 curve models walked the runways across the four fashion capitals, and now, another feat has been achieved: Playboy magazine has just announced the first transgender Playmate in its 64-year history, Ines Rau.
The November/December issue is the first to hit newsstands following the death of founder Hugh Hefner, but it's actually the second time the November playmate has been featured in the glossy. In 2014, the French model posed nude for the magazine's May issue, and was quoted in an interview saying that she used to be afraid of being perceived as "weird" and was scared she'd never find a partner. But Rau is a successful model in her own right, having been featured in a Balmain campaign, and continuously fronting editorials for magazines like W and Vogue Italia, in addition to walking couture shows in Paris.
In a celebratory Instagram post, Rau noted how important a role nudity can play when it comes to transgender visibility on the mainstream stage of the fashion industry. "Nudity shouldn’t be taboo. Nudity means a lot to me, since I went through a transition to get where I want to be," she wrote. "Nudity is a celebration of the human being without all the excess. It’s not about sexuality but the beauty of the human body, whether male or female." While Rau is Playboy's first ever transgender playmate, she's not the first transgender model to pose for the magazine. Back in 1981, model Caroline Cossey was featured in the magazine prior to appearing in For Your Eyes Only. She came out as a transgender woman the following year.
It goes without saying that Rau's presence as a Playboy playmate is a major sign of progress for the brand who has struggled with tackling topics like feminism and gender in the past. The November/December issue features Playboy's founder on the cover, in addition to an in-depth feature on Uganda's endangered LGBTQ+ community.