Emira D’Spain became the first Black trans woman to work with Victoria’s Secret. She’s still facing body shaming online.

Emira D'Spain on being
Emira D'Spain on being "unapologetically" herself on the internet. (Photo: Getty Images)

It Figures is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.

Emira D'Spain's life certainly looks like a movie as she exudes main character energy while documenting her Barbie-esque makeup looks and fashion for her 1.1 million TikTok followers. Her content is overwhelmingly pink, glowy and positive from an outsider's perspective, which doesn't mean that she lives without struggle. Instead, D'Spain tells Yahoo Life that it's all about having perspective and being open to change.

It's a motto she leans into in her every day life, but it also applies to her experience as a Black trans woman on the internet. After struggling with gender dysphoria and body image issues in the past, the 26-year-old model know she's not immune to those issues, she's simply willing to do something about them.

"My parents always say like, 'If you hate something about yourself, change it,'" she said. "I got a nose job when I was like 20 and my parents were like, 'We just wanted you to be happy.' I hated my nose and my dad was like, 'If you don't like it, literally just change it. Like, it's not that big of a deal.'"

It might not seem like sound advice for all, but it's been a saving grace for D'Spain who has been able to gain a sense of autonomy over her body from that guidance. She's also become uniquely transparent about the topic online.

"I don't like the way that all the celebs hide what they do. I talk about every single procedure I do, I think it's so fun," she says, noting that she did a vlog of her experience getting liposuction and a Brazilian butt lift (BBL). "I've always wanted and always will be unapologetically myself."

The take is particularly refreshing for her as she's faced the pressure that many trans people do to change things about themselves in an attempt to appear cisgender.

"People, especially in the trans community, feel like they have to change things about themselves to fit a certain mold or to fit into the standard or whatever, even if it's not coming from them. And I think that is so f***ed up," she says. "You should change [something] only if you really as a person want it."

She recalls nearly going through with a surgery she didn't want because of commentary on social media.

"One of my surgeries was this tracheal shave and it's part of my transition. But there's an additional part of the surgery where it's a voice modification surgery," she explains. "I had never hated my voice until I went on TikTok. I talk on TikTok and everyone's like, 'Why do you sound like that? Why the f*** is that your voice?' It made me so insecure and I booked to do that additional part of the surgery too."

D'Spain shared that the "insane" recovery was a big reason she never wanted to get it. "You like can't speak for a month," she says. "I was like, you know what? I actually did not want that. I only did that because the audience, the world wanted that from me. And I was like, 'F*** that. I'm not doing that.' So I never did."

Body shaming is another issue that she constantly deals with online.

"Everything is so oversexualized when it comes to trans women's bodies. Even if there is not any remotely sexual content happening, people will still somehow find a way to route it back there and then it becomes like a fetish or an oversexualization of women's bodies in general, but specifically trans women too," she says.

As a trans woman who is uniquely open about her body — she recently shared that she was doing a laser procedure to remove stretch marks on her boobs — she's also subjected to people who often overstep her boundaries.

"My body is scrutinized a little closer, and like people are zooming in on things and trying to ask questions about things that they shouldn't like my boobs, what's downstairs, all this stuff," she says. "I just feel like in general, you should never, ever, ever ask someone about their body parts. That just feels so inappropriate and invasive."

When she wants to be sexy, like when she became the first Black trans model to work with Victoria's Secret, D'Spain likens it to "cosplaying," giving her the agency to decide when she wants to be viewed that way. "It gives you more freedom to experience your body in different ways," she says.

She also practiced that agency when she made the decision to work with a brand whose previous Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek made transphobic comments in 2018.

"I'm a really big believer in change and growth," she says as she explains her approach to the partnership. "I was like, I'm gonna make history and every other little brown and Black, person of color, trans person, queer person...honestly, there are so many categories of people that were going to see that that would be inspired or know that they could do something similar or even open their mind to it."

She even gets emotional at the thought of her younger self seeing how far she's come by being so open to evolving.

"Little baby E would be so proud of me. I would say that we did things that we couldn't even imagine were possible. Because back then, my mind hadn't even comprehended what could potentially even be a possibility," she says. "I think about what would have happened if I would have seen or accomplished all this when I was a lot younger. If this would have been a lot different if I was younger, even if I would have transitioned a lot younger. But I truly believe that there is a time and a reason for everything."

Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.