1st plus-size Asian-American and 1st transgender woman to grace 'Vogue' cover talk about ‘limits’ of representation

Yumi Nu, left, and Ariel Nicholson make history with their debut on the cover of Vogue. (Photo: Getty Images)
Yumi Nu and Ariel Nicholson are two models who made history with their debut on the September cover of Vogue, representing what the publication calls "American Beauty Now".
The two women announced their inclusion on the famous cover, along with models Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, Precious Lee, Anok Yai, Sherry Shi and Lola Leon. And while the group consists of the model superstar's new and old faces, Nu and Nicholson get the most attention because they are the first for the fashion magazine in the Asian-American and LGBTQ communities, respectively.
While Nu was previously featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, she is now the first plus-size Asian-American model to grace the cover of American Vogue. According to her Instagram post, it was "the hardest secret I've ever had to keep to myself".
“I am so incredibly proud to be on this cover with 7 incredible women who show a variety of different bodies, races and stories. WE MAKE HISTORY FOR OUR COMMUNITIES TODAY, ”Nu titled the article. "I'm very proud of all the changes I see in this industry ... and it starts with things like that."
Nicholson, who was the first transgender model to land the coveted spot, also used social media to share her enthusiasm.
While both women thanked for their inclusion on the cover story of Vogue, which aims to introduce the next generation of American models, Nu and Nicholson also shared concerns about society's continued need to brand their identities.
"I appreciate the platform I've been given and it makes me happy - so happy - to know that there are bigger Asian-American girls out there who can look at me and see themselves," Nu told the publication. “But - I think there's a part of me that feels like ... labels can be limiting. In an ideal world, we might not have it. "
Nicholson, who appeared in the PBS documentary Growing Up Trans at age 13, echoed Nu's feeling.
“The capabilities of 'Representation' are limited,” said Nicholson. "Of course being the first trans woman on Vogue's cover is a big deal, but it's also hard to say what a big deal it is when the effects are so intangible."
Nicholson went on to explain that she was only identified as a trans model, put her in a "box" and said, "[that's] me - but that's not all I am."
As portraying a more diverse and inclusive cast of models becomes the bare minimum in the industry, there is hope for further changes and recognition of all that these women bring with them on and off the catwalk. That's, as Nu explains in her Instagram caption, to celebrate something.
"I want to take a second to celebrate the fact that this has always been my dream ... and 10 years ago it wouldn't have been possible for someone my size to be here," she said of her Vogue debut. "I always thought I had to change to have this chance. Well, here I am. We have come a long way and we will continue the fight."
In this article:
Ariel Nicholson
American model and activist

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