Zaya Wade is sharing what she’s learned about beauty and self-love from her stepmom, Gabrielle Union. In a new interview with Dazed magazine — which marks the model’s first-ever cover story — Wade touched on the valuable lessons Union’s taught her.
“The lesson has changed over time, but more recently it’s that beauty is in yourself. It’s about being you and expressing yourself the way you want to,” Wade shared. “She tries to teach me that beauty standards are arbitrary and that they don’t mean anything. They don’t matter anymore; what people thought was the standard is not. And just that being myself is the best technique out there.”
Wade’s also taught her family a few things in the process of her transition as well, telling the outlet it’s been her “honor” to further her family’s education of the LGBTQ+ community.
“So many big changes have happened over the last couple of years with me, but also just in general. I think it’s not my job, but it’s my honor to continue and further my family’s education and appreciation for the entire LBGTQ+ community as we grow together. As our understanding of acceptance has broadened over the past couple of years, we have made the strides to keep ourselves educated and combat the ignorance.”
Their support has been extremely vital, Wade shared, with both Union and Dwyane Wade, supporting the model as she made her runway debut at Paris Fashion Week earlier this month and saw a major milestone in her transition — her official name and gender change, something her mother had previously filed an objection to.
Speaking to ET following the monumental moment, Union shared how the family celebrated Wade’s win in court.
“Last night, she was so happy and we were just like *sings* ‘Say my name, say my name, ’cause to some people it just feels like paperwork, but to her it’s her truth and it’s her reality and we support that,” Union said. “Being in her orbit, you wanna catch up, you wanna keep up.”
Her dad also spoke out in support, stating, “When it comes to the transgender community, Black transgender community, even though we wish our 15-year-old daughter could just be and just go under the radar, her calling is bigger. So, we’re gonna use this opportunity to continue to keep speaking, continue to keep supporting — until we get change.”
As a product of a famous family — with Union as her stepmom and an NBA great for a father — growing up in the public eye as a trans teen has had its highs and lows.
“I mean, a lot of attention equals a lot more hate, a lot of transphobia, and [there is] a lot of pressure on me, but I’m also able to reach more people. The positives of having such an inclusive platform completely outweigh all of the negativity online, which my support system has enabled me to filter out,” she explained. “It has allowed me to let in the positivity and distribute it to all of the trans people in the world who need a voice and give them a platform to get inspired to live with themselves without being afraid.”
Even still, Wade has learned to filter out the hate, whether that be on social media or IRL. And she’s using her personal experiences to be a role model to LGBTQ+ youth who she said often go “unrecognized.”
“It means to me that I’m a microphone. I am my own person and I have my own experiences, but for me, as a role model, I try to use my personal experience to broadcast the positives and also the negatives in life, because a lot of LGBTQ+ youth go unrecognized in every way,” the 15-year-old model said. “I think I am here to share those experiences: to voice them, but also to enhance them. So, the world can know, ‘We are here, we are queer, we are here to stay, and we aren’t going anywhere.'”
Her advice for those looking to live their truth — no matter their age: “protect your peace.”
“Discovering that part of yourself and then having the courage to share it is stressful in itself. It’s a lot of stress, pressure and tension. [You should] recognize that you have gone through a life-changing experience and that you deserve peace,” she shared.
“You deserve a moment – multiple moments – to step back and take some time to sit with yourself, and in any manner of way just escape negativity as much as you can,” Wade added. “I know people have many different circumstances, and I am privileged to have so many people [who] are really in my favor. There are people who don’t [have that], and that’s why I try to give a message of hope to let people know there are others out there who can really just help them protect their peace.”
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