FIF: Laith Ashley
Dayummm, that's what you call Friday inspiration...
Oh HI friends, you’ve joined us just in time for another “F**k It!” Friday – MTV Breaks’ weekly feature where we celebrate all those godly mortals who have just said “f**k it!” (probably) in order to board the Success Express.
Because while we might all have big ideas, actually following those ideas through despite what people may say separates the good from the GREAT.
So who’s up on the FIF throne this week? Drumroll… it’s LAITH ASHLEY!
Laith first seized the spotlight when he modelled for Barneys New York in 2014, and became an increasingly well known face walking the city’s top fashion runways. But in 2015 he really blew up on social media when he featured in a sexy Calvin Klein shoot. Laith’s now got a following of 150k on Instagram, and recently modelled in Diesel’s ‘Make Love Not Walls’ campaign all about inclusion, diversity and love, photographed by the legendary David LaChapelle.
So obviously Laith is a seasoned passenger on the Success Express, but why is he our FIF idol this week?
Well, Laith is a transgender man, and was one of the first trans models to hit the big time in an international campaign. Having grown up in a Christian household with a Pentecostal Christian mum who to this day doesn’t want to refer to Laith as a “he”, his transition was not completely smooth-sailing, and it was difficult to really come to terms with who he was.
When Laith got the opportunity to do the Calvin Klein shoot (post-transition) he posted a pic from it to social media and there was an online frenzy overnight. But many of the comments he received were hateful anti-transgender ones. “I wanted to quit and delete my Instagram. Just disappear,” Laith admitted to Vice in an interview. “I decided not to.”
Basically, Laith said “f**k it!” and decided to stay strong despite the torrent of abuse flying his way. And good thing too, since just one week later transgender TV star Laverne Cox reposted the photo on her page. Suddenly Laith was on the receiving end of a stream of supportive messages and positive comments, his Instagram follower numbers SHOT up, and photographers began seeking him out to work with.
Nowadays, Laith’s learnt to accept the bad publicity as well as the good. He’s totally embraced his f**k it spirit by also speaking out about gender and sexuality issues, making sure that people know the TRUTH about the modern day transgender experience.
Like when he went on Channel 4 to talk about the fact that it shouldn’t be cis gender people who are afraid of transgender people, thinking they’re in some way dangerous in public toilets - that actually it was the trans community that needed protection against anti-transphobic attacks in these scenarios. He’s also quick to point out that he is lucky in his experience – that transgender women encounter much more discrimination, and that being seen as an attractive man means he is automatically respected more than others.
And even though Laith was reluctant to take on the responsibility of being an advocate for trans people and other marginalised groups at first, he eventually decided to embrace it like the f**k it lej he is. “I always felt I wanted to speak for people who don’t have a voice,” he told Vice. But he also said, “sometimes being an advocate doesn’t mean I have to stand on a podium and give huge speeches. Sometimes it just means living my life, and showing people who don’t know what it is to be trans that I’m just a normal guy living his life.”
YAAS Laith. He’s OWNING that spotlight despite the haters, and showing everyone that people’s preconceptions should NEVER hold you back achieving your dream career, which is why he’s wearing our FIF crown this week. And it’s well deserved, don’t you think?
HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!
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