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Munroe Bergdorf
Munroe Bergdorf by Luke Nugent

Munroe Bergdorf on her relationship with beauty

Munroe Bergdorf is the model, trans activist and 21st century trailblazer bent on shaking up the fashion and beauty industries for good

The Dazed Beauty Community is our ever-expanding encyclopaedia of creatives and emerging talent from across the world who are redefining the way we think about beauty. From supermodels to digital artists to makeup prodigies transforming themselves in their bedrooms, these are the beauty influencers of tomorrow who embody everything Dazed Beauty is about. Discover them here.

Born and raised in Stansted, Essex – a sleepy airport town in the UK – model Munroe Bergdorf recalls being “one of those queer country bumpkin kids” whose desire to bend the beauty rule book started from a young age. As a kid, she would regularly steal her mum’s lip gloss and wear it into school. Munroe’s sense of isolation as the only black and queer kid in school instilled in her a strong life’s mission: to educate people on issues of diversity and inclusion through fashion and beauty. “It's important to me because, growing up, I had no role models or women to look up to that I could see myself in,” she says. “I want the younger generation to know that they are enough as they are and that anything is doable.”

At 31 years old, today Munroe has a number of achievements under her belt. Last year she made headlines as L’Oreal’s first ever trans beauty representative, only to be unceremoniously dropped days later after comments about racism she made online were taken of context. She went on to turn the situation around, making the press around the company's move to drop her into an opporunity to point out hypocrisies within a so-called diverse beauty industry, and to educate people about white privilege and the importance of unlearning racism (what she was talking about in the posts to begin with). The same year, she hosted a powerful documentary on Channel 4 about perceptions around gender in Britain, cementing her reputation as one of the UK’s most committed and outspoken transgender activists. 

Aside from her political work, Munroe has also been carving out her career within the modelling industry, having made her catwalk debut for Gypsy Sport’s Fall 2018 collection and more recently modelling for the SS19 lookbook. She has also recently graced the cover of Gay Times magazine, as well as securing features in i-D, Dazed, Paper and LOVE. With a 89k strong following on Instagram, and a famously outspoken Twitter manner serving up hometruths daily, Munroe has consistently proved herself as a force to be reckoned with. As for what's next, the model likes to keep it low key: “I prefer to just show people projects, rather than talk about them before their time. I think it's more magical that way. Remember when pop stars released their music video at same time as you first hearing the song? I'm about that life.”

Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.
Bronzed sex goddess.

If you could have a new sense on top of your existing ones, what would it be?
To hear people's thoughts and secrets.

It is the sixth day and you are creating humans. They can look however you want them to. What do they look like and why?
We all have beautiful iridescent oil slick-like rainbow skin that turns a really ugly shade of Magnolia if we didn't treat other people with respect and common decency. So everybody knows to steer clear. A karma complexion.

You’ve had an accident which causes you to lose your sense of smell. The doctors can’t return it fully but can give you the ability to smell one scent. What do you pick and why?
Chanel No 5, because it’s my favourite fragrance and always snaps me out of a slump the moment I smell it.

If not your body then, is there anything you would want to leave behind? An artwork you haven't done yet, a book, a bloodline?
When I'm dead and gone, I hope I'm remembered for my ideas and my principals. I hope people remember the way I made them feel. I want to empower people whilst I'm alive and hopefully that'll live on once I've passed.

Tomorrow you wake up with another face of your choice. Whose is it and why?
Lisa Bonet, Devon Aoki or Naomi Campbell. They all have the most immaculately beautiful faces.

You have to donate a feature or limb of your body to an icon of yours. You get nothing in return. What feature or limb do you give and why?
I would give Aaliyah my lifeforce so she could live again. I'd happily sacrifice myself for her...

It's 30 years from now. You stumble home at 3am and catch your reflection in the fridge door. What do you look like?
I'm hoping that I look like Angela Bassett when I'm around that age. So yes. A tipsy Angela Bassett, which I can imagine would be fabulous.

If you could have a new sense on top of your existing ones, what would it be?
Foresight. It would be great to look into the future if needs be. I have incredible emotional intuition but I've always wished I was actually psychic.