From being the first openly trans female nominated for an Emmy to landing the cover of TIME Magazine, Laverne Cox is no stranger to transgender milestones.
But before she was the trailblazer we know her as today, Laverne struggled with several aspects of her identity—personal style being a bullet point on that list. There are times when fashion can be fairly inconsequential, but when it's wrapped up in your ability to express your true self, it can carry significant weight.
"I was terrified of wearing a dress because my third grade teacher Ms. Ridgeway said I would end up in New Orleans wearing a dress," Laverne told MTV News.
Now, the Orange is the New Black star doesn't shy away from showing a little leg, but getting there took some time. When we caught up with the actress, who was promoting her new doc The T Word, she walked us through her fashion turning points, including her first dress, pair of heels and weave.
"Even though I needed to express my femininity for years, I didn't wear dresses," she explained. "The very first dress I wore, I believe, the first one I remember I got in Indiana, when I was in Indiana University, and it was silver lamé and it was long sleeved and I got it from [a thrift store], there was amazing thrift at the time in Bloomington, Indiana."
"I didn't wear heels for a long time because I just didn't find them comfortable and I still don’t really," the Orange is the New Black star said. "I found this pair of platform, like really chunky platform shoes from the Salvation Army, that I wore to death. So, I probably wore them, I’m not going to tell you the club, because if I tell you the club I will date myself."
"I had a shaved head, and I think it was my second year at Marymount, I started growing my hair out and I started doing my own box braided extensions," Laverne said. "And so the sides and back of my head were shaved and so I just had, like, box braids at the top."
First Fashion Icon
"Boy George because, I mean, growing up in Alabama I was just, like, it just, he seemed so bold and so, like, he created this space of possibility for me maybe to, I think the androgyny I had through my adolescents was probably because of Boy George," she said. "He gave me a space to, like, express my femininity in an affirming way."
Be sure to tune in to Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word tonight (October 17) at 7 p.m. ET on MTV. Then catch up with Laverne and the cast on the MTV.com after show immediately following the special.
For more information on transgender rights and resources go to Look Different.