Carol Marra has a list of accomplishments that place her among an elite group of Brazilian models — she has walked at Fashion Week in Rio, opened her own lingerie line, and even filed two mini-series for major Brazilian television stations.
But Carol has an important distinction among models in South American nation — she is transgender.
Marra’s success is seen as a turning of the tide in Brazil, which despite a mixed-race and multicultural heritage and accepting nature of large metropolitan cities, is still a largely conservative country with strong religious influences.
“They say Brazil is a liberal, progressive country, but it’s not really like that,” Carol Marra told the New York Times.
But Marra has found success despite a less-than-accepting atmosphere, and now serves as a role model for other transgender models. She has paved the way for a small group of others, including Melissa Paixão, Camila Ribeiro, and Felipa Tavares.
Marra has also been open about her journey to become a model. She identified as a boy as a youth — Carol’s parents would actually correct strangers who said they had a lovely daughter — but has since gotten work done to take on a more feminine appearance.
On a website for facial feminization surgery, Carol Marra talked about how freeing it is to be able to control her own appearance. She compared her work with the “Facial Team” to the story of Snow White, when the evil queen sought out the fairest woman in the land.
“It ends up that… she wanted to kill her stepdaughter, Snow White, because she was prettier than her, and I thought: Oh, on those days there was no Facial Team.”
But the new attention has also led Marra to see a darker side of the modeling world. She said her Facebook page has been inundated with vulgar messages, including people asking how much she costs for the night.
Despite her trailblazing success, the attention has been difficult for Carol Marra, who said she never intended to be an activist but instead just “a woman like any other.”