Laverne Cox posed nude: ‘Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful’


I normally don’t care about Allure’s annual “celebrities get naked” issue. I’m not a prude about naked photos or anything, it’s just that Allure usually chooses people that I don’t really care about, naked or not. But in this year’s issue, they got Laverne Cox to pose. And suddenly, I was interested. Laverne is beautiful, of course, and she’s also the first transgender woman to pose for Allure’s Nude Issue. I was curious to see how they posed her and yes, I was simply curious to see her body. She looks gorgeous. I think it would have been a stronger photo if her eyes were open, but this is fine. Laverne spoke to Allure about WHY she posed:

“Going through life, you try to cover and hide, but it doesn’t really work,” says the Orange Is the New Black star, 30, who at first turned down Allure’s request to pose nude.

“I said no initially, thought about it, and said no again,” she says. “But I’m a black transgender woman. I felt this could be really powerful for the communities that I represent. Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards. Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful. Seeing a black transgender woman embracing and loving everything about herself might be inspiring to some other folks. There’s beauty in the things we think are imperfect. That sounds very cliché, but it’s true.”

Cox wanted these pictures for herself, too: “I honestly just want to make myself happy most, and if other people like it, then that’s great. If they don’t, then I’m still happy.”

[From Allure]

It is a powerful thing for her to represent African-American beauty and trans beauty all at once. Intersectionality beauty! Laverne is also one of this year’s Time 100, listed in the Pioneer section. Go here to see her Time profile. She’s such a powerful advocate and a cool lady.

Photos courtesy of Norman Jean Roy/Allure, Instagram, WENN.

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66 Responses to “Laverne Cox posed nude: ‘Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful’”

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  1. savu says:

    She’s such a beautiful woman, inside and out.

  2. Luca76 says:

    She’s inspring and yes BEAUTIFUL!

  3. Mirn says:

    If she wasn’t wearing a blonde, straight wig, I’d take her more seriously about repping black beauty. There is nothing wrong with our hair; we shouldn’t feel the need to hide it all the time.

    • Sarah says:

      At the same time she should be free to have whatever hair she wants. Hair shouldn’t be politically loaded. If she likes her hair blonde, get it gurrrrrl. She has to have natural hair or she isn’t a good role model for black women? Get over yourself!

      • The Other Pinky says:


        Hair IS very political for black women. See where Laverne says “Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards”? Well, the most insidious and pervasive of those “standards” has to do with hair. Most of us learn very early on that our natural hair is ugly and uncivilized, and by God it must be processed or covered up ala wig/weave asap. it’s not even enough to hide it now, let’s hide it with fake hair that mimics not just the texture but the coloring of Caucasian hair.

        She is lovely and if this is how she wants to look, fine. But I certainly wouldn’t present her as a person who is resisting societal standards where black beauty is concerned. She is very clearly conforming.

      • Santia says:

        TheOtherPinky – +1000. Colorism and hatred of our natural hair is still pervasive. If you are going to stand up and say you represent someone, do it. She’s saying all the right things while still buckling under those same standards she claims to be eschewing.

      • OTHER RENEE says:

        I don’t understand why she needs to have “black” hair to be an effective role model. The empowerment of ALL women is having CHOICE. If she likes blonde hair, she has the right to rock it. I’m Jewish and was born with a large nose. I had it surgically altered years ago. Was that being disrespectful to my heritage? No. I hated that nose period. My life. My choice.

      • Sooloo says:

        @Other Renee – IMO it’s not so much that it’s blonde hair, but that it’s not natural hair. Whatever color or texture, why not do it to the hair that naturally is present instead of wearing something that’s an unnatural color (at least among most blacks), and unnatural texture, AND fake? Natural hair is not good enough to be rocked? Santia is right – there’s a bit of hypocrisy in standing up against beauty norms that are typically found in non-black cultures as the only appearance that’s acceptable or attractive, then plopping on a big ol’ blonde wig that totally conforms to those exact norms of beauty.

      • ISee says:

        If some people keep perpetuating the stereotype that black hair is ugly (it isnt) then it is never going to go away. Embrace yourself, embrace the choices of others. Most people see no problem with black hair and are unaware that there is a myth about it until someone tells them there is and that there should be a fuss about it. Children see no colour, yet as we grow up we are constantly told that there is a difference, when there actually isnt. Its a shame. Major changes could be made if we worked together rather than pushing away those out to help us.

      • Trashaddict says:

        Hair is so political I’ve gotten so I just don’t comment about it any more. It just seems like many women feel that any comment about their hair objectifies them, so I’ve given up saying anything, even to complement them if they look great (and NO, I don’t ask to touch it!) in cornrows or however the hell they decide to style it. I might tell a person they look nice but I just decided the shut the hell up when it comes to hair.

    • Anna says:

      Ugh stop policing how black women want to wear their hair. Btw there are black women who naturally have straight hair and who have blonde hair. You can still be proud of being black and not wear your hair in its natural state 24/7. Please stop trying to shame black women for not being “black enough” it doesn’t help any cause and it only gives non-black people more hateful things to say and then the ability to “justify” it by saying other black women have said it too

      • Sooloo says:

        Well of course there are black women with naturally straight hair and naturally blonde hair. But that’s the point, and you acknowledge it yourself – *NATURALLY*. And Laverne ain’t one of ’em. Rail against “beauty norms”, and state how she can feel beauty without conforming to those norms, then rock a look that she had to falsely obtain? How’s this any different than someone claiming to be proud of their small ta-tas and embracing that which goes against the mainstream idea of beauty, all while showing DD implants?

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I admit that I have some…I don’t even know. I just don’t know quite what to think about the fact that her beauty ideal led her to bleach her hair and skin. Of course to each her own–of course. It’s just something I noticed.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        She also has breasts now and other changes because she has changed gender, why focus on one change and ignore others?

      • The Other Pinky says:

        Bob Loblaw, the implants are a part of her treatment for her gender dismorphia. Bleaching out her colouring and throwing on bone straight blonde lace-front wigs isn’t. its just indicative of a non critical mind. If she chooses to buy the widely pedaled bs about what constitutes beauty that’s her business but I’ll thank her to not go running around claiming to be some kind of pioneer for black beauty.
        Bell Hooks tried to school this girl on this very issue afew years ago, so for her to throw in that quote about African beauty is beyond ingnorance.

    • bored_01 says:

      Choice of wig aside (I won’t weigh inon that) it is important to point out that some trans ladies have to deal with masculine hair patterns (ie. baldness, thinning) that make wearing their natural hair difficult.

    • WTF says:

      @Mirn I get what you are saying. And if she weren’t transgendered I would agree with you 100%. I think the difference here is that Laverne is trying to own being beautiful ‘as a woman’. A lot of people look at her and know that she is transgendered and that alone makes them see her as not beautiful. I think it is a journey. I would imagine that without her wig she probably feels very exposed, and feels like she looks like a boy. So to me this case is really complicated. In a few years she may be posing with an afro wig!!!

      On the other hand, if this were Beyonce or Nicki Minaj, then I would TOTALLY agree with you. I am a black woman and I am soooooooo sick of our culture’s obsession with weave and ‘long hair’ ‘blonde hair’ arrrrgh. And what makes it worse is that when you are natural (which I am) our OWN people say the worst things. You NEVER see our own magazines celebrating our natural hair. It’s so frustrating. If you aren’t a woman of color then you probably won’t get it. It’s so deeply entrenched that wearing your natural hair has become a ‘statement’. It’s really sad.

  4. Lola says:

    She’s of course gorgeous but I don’t know how I feel about this. It’s like to be a “full woman” you have to be pretty and pose naked.
    Women (trans or not) shouldn’t have to keep aiming at being called pretty.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I have mixed feelings about what you said, but I think you make an excellent point. My first reaction was “but doesn’t every woman want to feel beautiful?” However, why is it so important? Because society has told us that’s where our value comes from? I do like and admire her, but I get what you’re saying, too.

      • velvet says:

        I am older now 54, i am not beautiful. Yet when I look in the mirror in the morning I like what I see. I was pretty as a young person but thought i was not, standard stuff for our culture. I like what my face looks like now. Def not beautiful and I truly don’t care (most days ha ha).

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I know what you mean. I always hated my nose, and wanted my mother’s tiny, dainty nose. But now, nose and all, that face is part of me, and I’m friends with it.

    • Wren says:

      It really is awful that in our society women must be decorative over anything else. That is our primary purpose and if we fail at that, it invalidates everything else we do.

      Look at how female politicians are treated. The negative comments are mostly, “She’s ugly, her clothes are ugly, and oh yeah, her policies probably suck too, but mostly she’s ugly.” Like how dare a woman speak in public with that face! You don’t see nearly the same thing for the hoards of their arguably goofy looking male counterparts. Maybe a political cartoon or two but that’s it.

      Laverne Cox is in an industry where looks are very important, so I can see how she’d want to feel beautiful and show others that she is beautiful. But then again, why is posing nude the pinnacle of female achievement?

      • Sooloo says:

        Agree with you 100%. How many times I’ve seen headlines like “hottest female Fortune 500 executives” or “hottest female politicians” – their accomplishments and careers are a simple footnote in their overall worth, because God forbid someone doesn’t find them attractive!

      • Notthemafia says:

        To think that goes both ways actually- I agree female politicians and public figures are often knocked for their attractiveness as an excuse to ignore what they’re saying. But equally very beautiful women are often also ignored, particularly in an intellectual environment, on the basis you can be pretty OR clever. It’s basically just a way to invalidate and not listen to what women are saying. And it has to change.

        Re Laverne- I’m not transgendered, nor am I black, so perhaps there are issues I’m missing here. She wants to be beautiful, no doubt because a lot of people have said to her for a long time that she isn’t, and she will never be. In those circumstances it’s not surprising that she tries to conform in some way to what is held up as beautiful. Including her hair. And that’s a shame. But it’s a lot to put on a young woman’s shoulders to criticise her for confirming on this one point.

    • CB says:

      If her bone structure wasn’t the beauty standard and she looked like most transwomen they wouldn’t ask her to pose. If Allure wants to be inviting then pick normal looking people, not the top 1% of the 1%.

      • Lee1 says:

        I would be really careful about making judgments about how “most” trans women look. Trans women are just as diverse as any other group of women.

  5. Tracy says:

    Laverne, you’re beautiful. I bet you were beautiful before you modified your nose, adopted the hair color and texture of another race, or enhanced your eyes with false lashes. I totally understand the modifications that come with gender reassignment and am not referencing these — that’s about correcting what Nature got wrong. I’m simply saying that we require women, especially black women to do so much to themselves to feel beautiful, when I think their African American features, hair texture, etc. are just beautiful they way they are.

    So, I think you’re beautiful when you get out of the shower, first wake up, or take out the trash on a Sunday night. But any way you slice it, Laverne, you are beautiful. Hear it.

    • Sarah says:

      We need to stop policing women all together. If looking this way makes her feel most beautiful, so be it. Why is it your responsibility to determine what’s best for someone else?
      Confidence and beauty come from within but many of us rely on external touches to help us get there. This is common to women of all colours.

      As a trans woman she probably grew up with people telling her she could never do this or that. I think it’s her turn to decide what she wants.

      • Al says:

        She is who SHE is. If anybody is uncomfortable with that, that’s fine! But, don’t mistake YOUR discomfort for HER problem. Listen to her; “I honestly just want to make myself happy most, and if other people like it, then that’s great. If they don’t, then I’m still happy.”

    • Alexis says:

      So is concern-trolling over modifications to hair texture and noses the new way to get around acknowledging the beauty of black women? The majority of white women in Hollywood have also modified their hair and noses. And, perhaps it’s only your perception that they are modifying to look like another race. Most modern nose jobs for black folks are natural looking; they just look like a slightly straighter black person’s nose. Plenty of people straight out of Africa naturally have straight, narrower noses. There are whole black African nations where this is common, like Ethopia and Rwanda. There’s a reaching to look like this minority. But how is that different from every white starlet, regardless of ethnicity, having to get a thin ski jump Scandinavian nose? Most white people’s noses don’t actually look like that. That’s why the starlets all get nose jobs, and it’s an act of subversion for white women in Hollywood NOT to have that nose.

      It’s just like how anti-choice activists have moved to legislation about health to make ending pregnancies more difficult as opposed to straight moral legislation. Don’t be fooled by this faux-naturalista rhetoric.

      • Santia says:

        But for white women the “standards” of beauty are readily attainable. The majority of black women relax their and their children’s hair. I am appalled at the number of toddlers I see on the subways with relaxed hair. Why? Because society has told us (black women) that is what we need to do to be acceptable and beautiful.

        I agree that black women should be considered beautiful regardless of what they’ve done to their hair or noses, but I think we need to start showing our children (our daughters especially) that they can be considered beautiful as they are – with their original noses and skin color and hair. There is room for everyone at the table, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at magazines and the media.

        There is nothing “faux” about expressing an opinion. The fact that you don’t agree doesn’t make anyone else’s opinion less valid than yours.

      • Alexis says:

        Well, you went ahead and ignored most of what I said. Most of my comment was about the universality of nose jobs on white women who are public figures. You never addressed that. Nose jobs are hardly “readily accessible.” And basically every white woman I know of Southern Euro or Jewish decent has thought about a nose job or wished they could have one. if you’re talking about hair, it’s as easy and accessible to straighten ones hair as it is to dye it. Most white women with dishwater brown hair feel pressure to dye it. What’s up with that? Also, in my experience living in an ethnically mixed city, it’s not empirically true that “most” under 10 black girls have relaxed hair. Usually i see them with braids or Afro puffs.

        I mean, you just want to say black women are stupid and want to be white. And white women are somehow above being critiqued for caving to social pressure to modify their appearance to be beautiful.

      • Santia says:

        “I mean, you just want to say black women are stupid and want to be white.” If I wanted to say that, I would. Please don’t put words in my mouth. The rest of my comment speaks for itself. Have a good weekend. I’m done.

  6. Al says:

    @Tracy and Mirn You have no problem with the way she presents herself, it’s just the way she presents herself that’s bothering you??????? Keep your concern trolling to yourself!
    Hear it.

  7. Mirn says:

    @Al – you have a right to your opinion and we have a right to ours. End of.

    • Al says:

      You are absolutely entitled to your opinions. In fact, your opinion comes off as just that- entitled. I told you to keep your trolling to yourself.
      She lays herself bare (literally) and you come back with (I’m paraphrasing here) ‘that wig tho’. HAHA!!

      • Asiyah says:

        With all due respect, I think your opinion was just as, or even more, entitled than theirs.

      • Santia says:

        And who are YOU to tell anyone to keep anything to themselves?? This is a gossip site; no one is curing cancer here (not even you).

      • Al says:

        Do you realize you talk in circles Sanita?

      • WTF says:


        I think that she posed to open a conversation about standards of beauty. Attacking people because they are engaging in the conversation is counterproductive. Laverne brought up how society sees Black women and how she is combating that. Tracy and Mirn are making valid points.

  8. CharlotteCharlotte says:

    Laverne is beautiful inside and out. I wish her eyes were open and staring straight down the lens.

    • halleygee says:

      To me her closed eyes make it look like she’s hiding by not “looking” us in the eye. But otherwise I don’t have any criticism of the photos, don’t think it’s a big deal really.

  9. Cora says:

    Why do women have to be beautiful to have value?

    • meme says:

      Exactly. The majority of men and women are average looking and that’s fine. This constant emphasis on beauty and perfect bodies is destructive to everyone. If the person who loves you thinks you’re beautiful and you’re OK with you, that’s all you need.

  10. Birdie says:

    I am very glad that she is so brave and confident, this helps so many trans kids out there and adults as well.

  11. SuePerb says:

    “Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful.”
    That is unfortunately so true. I had a transgender girlfriend years ago and men thought she was hot and even more so that she was with another woman, then their views turned to abject disgust when they found out and openly picked flaws in both of us.

    I think Laverne is totally rocking hot. She has amazing legs and butt!

  12. Wren says:

    “Is she pretty? You do not seem to think it important but I tell you it is of the first importance! It often decides her fate.”

    I’m paraphrasing but I ran across that in an Agatha Christie book written in 1936 or thereabouts. True then and true now. It’s rather sad, really. I’m not against women feeling and wanting to feel beautiful, it just bothers me immensely that physical beauty or being pretty still does decide a lot in a woman’s life, including how others see and treat her.

  13. roxy750 says:

    Sorry, like Kim Kardashian, everything bout Laverne (on the outside) is fake. No matter which way you toss it. Everything is manufactured. Women in the basic real world, aka the majority of women DO NOT look like this. We don’t have fake eyelashes, hours of makeup, poofy silky fake hair, fake boobs, etc etc……yea, Laverne might be nice, what else is she besides what she looks like and her sexual preference or nature? If she wants to be treated like others don’t draw attention to your difference, draw attention to what you are worth, your mind, your views, whatever. ya know? Granted, she looks great, she really does.

    • amunet ma'at says:

      @Roxy750, I totally agree. How is it that KK gets lambasted and criticized so harshly, but in this case there is nothing but praise? She is fake and she’s talking about beauty but working in an industry that is only about looks. She is being called a pioneer but doesn’t do anything but act/model.

    • Jonathan says:

      Fake is real, too. It’s not like anyone with “fake” breasts or a “fake” nose exists in a different universe. They’re as real as you or I.

      And sweet face, IMO Laverne IS a she, not a he. It costs nothing to be kind. “ACTUAL” females SHOULD be praised for simply looking like real women or having feminine attributes. That’s usually where MY praise starts.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Is it really so hard to understand that she is a pioneer and role model to an underrepresented group?

  14. Mikeyangel says:

    Laverne is a pioneer. I love her. I believe she is beautiful. For those that say beauty isn’t important, I believe you are wrong. Yes many of us, including myself, are average. But I don’t want to get dressed up and be told by my husband, “well babe, you look average!” Do I care if any of you think I am beautiful, no. But I do care if my three children or husband, and most importantly myself thinks so. Beauty comes in every shape, size, color, gender, and personality. It certainly doesn’t encapsulate just one of these things. I can see why other black women would be slightly disappointed at Laverne not embracing all her black features. I can’t speak to that anymore though as I am not black and have never had to face the same criticism or standards put placed on them. Good for her for being a pioneer though! I have nothing but love here.

  15. Asiyah says:

    I think she looks great in the pictures, but I too have mixed feelings about this whole women-must-be-beautiful belief. I also see why some people took issue with her wearing a blond weave based on Laverne’s own words:

    “Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards.”

    Overall, great pics.

  16. Mike says:

    Oh cry me a river.

    Why is beauty so important? Why is it the ultimate measure for self-assurance and social acceptance? Esp. for women? Shouldn’t we be better than that at this point? It is so juvenile and materialistic to see most women feel the need to be told they are (excuse my language) bang-able all the time. Is that the ultimate level? The sole purpose?

    Is this conducive the the modern definition of feminism?

    Everyone needs to be told they are beautiful so that they feel better about themselves. Not overweight, but some morbidly obese women come out and say they feel discriminated against because society deems them unattractive. They are not worried about dying or heart disease, but they are worried about the public approval of the worth and value of their ‘flesh’.

    Nothing against Ms. Cox – it is the mentality that bothers me. We are all so materialistic and superficial! Billions of people are never told that they are beautiful. It is life. Get on with it.

    • SuePerb says:

      Billions of women don’t get told they are beautiful (I am not sure about that because most will be told by those who love them, you look beautiful today) but billions of those women do not get insults thrown at them because of their appearances either. Most women can walk down the street and just be ignored.

      I don’t know Ms Cox, in fact I have never seen her before, but I do know a number of transgender women and the treatment many get on a day to day basis is just dehumanising. My ex was a transgender woman, and she was pointed at, laughed at, groped, been told she was disgusting, she should die, people constantly trying to look up her skirt; not to mention all her own issues about herself. She wasn’t overly confident about herself to begin with (most was just a front she put up), but for her to get a compliment saying she looked pretty instead of insults just lit her up. I remember going to the hairdressers with her and afterwards I told her she looked beautiful, however just a simple compliment got huffs and ‘I’m going to be sick’ mumbled comments. This unfortunately for some is the way some transgender women have to put up with.

      I applaud Ms Cox for doing this, because she does look beautiful and I know many people would have clicked on the nude pictures to see exactly what she has had done rather than for any other purpose. It was a beautiful photo shoot and I don’t think she should be ridiculed for it.

      • Mike says:

        I am not ridiculing the photo shoot or her in particular. Not at all. And I did not say ‘billions of women’ – I said ‘billions of people’. I do not want to draw a separation between genders, because men can be equally sensitive about their looks and they too enjoy getting praised for their looks just like everyone else.

        Everyone loves praise. But acceptance or tolerance should not be solely measured with beauty. This is a very sore issue in transgender community – if you had a ‘passable’ or ‘believable’ transition, then you get praised because you look acceptable to society. Almost like a woman born a woman after the transition – what an accomplishment!

        This sort of attitude is discriminatory and very base in itself. In reality, most people will never look that believable after their transition. They may not have the youth or physical health to deal with all the treatments, or the astounding amounts of money to spend on the numerous surgeries and hormone treatments.

        Calling someone beautiful is nice, and certainly nice to hear. But people need to come to grips with the fact that we put too much emphasis on the concept of beauty and while we are at this warped sort of mind-space, we keep embarrassing ourselves.

        Ms. Cox did a nude shoot. The purpose of a nude shoot is rarely showcasing ‘beauty’. It is about showcasing reality at its most basic. I get it; she wants to feel desired just like every other woman. But is this the ultimate measure for acceptance? You can accept a person for who they are, respect them, and may not feel the need to cement it by saying they are beautiful – just so they feel better about themselves. It is ridiculous.

        Otherwise, the treatment that the transgendered people are being subjected to all around the world is heart-breaking, abhorrent and condemnable in every way. It saddens me every day. I would never ever negate that.

      • SuePerb says:

        Why do you think that most people do not look believable after? How many transgender people do you actually know? Of the people I know most do look believable and it is only because people are told they are transgender that people’s perception changes to they’re not convincing.

        I don’t think it is the ‘ultimate measure of acceptance’ at all. But as the shoot was in a beauty magazine where many other female actors also have the same kind of photo shoot it just shows she is just like any other woman. There is a lot of misconceptions with transgender and people like Ms Cox seem to be trying to show people ‘look, even laid bare, we are just like everyone else’.

        Of course we are a superficial society hell bent on making ourselves look beautiful, the way humans have always been. I am pretty sure you do things to make your own appearance look good. Or do you not buy clothes that you think you look good in or get a haircut that you think suits you? Why should this woman have the burden of a superficial society put on her shoulders alone? Almost every actress has appeared in beauty magazines in one way or another, but I think she is just getting criticised because she is transgender.

      • SuePerb says:

        One other thing I would like to say…
        “Almost like a woman born a woman after the transition – what an accomplishment!” – Yes, it is an accomplishment, a huge accomplishment to them. Just to stand naked in front of a mirror and to see exactly what they have wanted to see all their life; it is a huge accomplishment even if you think they aren’t convincing enough. The more people hear from transgender people, the more acceptable they become to society and the less they have to hide.

  17. BunnyBabe says:

    Beauty and sexual attractiveness go hand-in-hand in cases which lead directly to the the continuing of a species. For example: peacocks (although that is the male being flashy.) Beauty is intrinsically important. It’s not inherently evil! Only if the person wielding it USES it for evil does it become so. Don’t hate, appreciate.

    ETA: Also, beauty is in everyone, please don’t think this is limited to celebrities or people who look like models. We all have good parts, and beauty is everywhere if you are looking for it.

  18. Maria A. says:

    Some of the most intimidatingly beautiful women I’ve seen were transgender. They made me feel like quite the little mudhen.

    • Trashaddict says:

      This. Totally support transgender and understand her struggles, but leave it to men to pull off looking like a woman better than we do. Sigh.

  19. Sknniemama says:

    That woman could not look inelegant if she tried. I love her.

  20. Jonathan says:

    Let me preface my reply by saying this is JUST MY OPINION, I know that not everybody here will agree with me or like what I say. But opinions really are like arseholes- everyone has them and everyone else but yours STINKS:

    As someone who wanted very much to BE a woman up until my late 20’s (I’m now 42), I want Laverne to know she is both beautiful and looks a like a real WOMAN, and there’s no higher praise than that.

    Beauty isn’t about CONFORMING to a norm, beauty IS the norm. Everyone is beautiful, and I can never be convinced otherwise.