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Posts Tagged ‘androgyny’

I am a nonbinary trans woman. Within the first year of being out as transgender I was constantly plagued with people asking “When are you going to go on hormones?”, a question which has & still does annoy me to this day.

The dialogue that every trans person must, or should, inherently want to seek medicalized transition, is a deeply flawed & even toxic viewpoint to hold.

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Often, we talk about “beauty standards” as a single set of rules, as though they can be internalized and followed the way one might follow the rules of grammar or mathematics.  Beauty standards have very real consequences for those who break them and also those who don’t, and they are so pervasive as to seem universal.  But they aren’t universal.

Take, for example, the context of the fashion industry.  Granted, there are plenty of harmful aspects of consumerism and misogyny in fashion in general.  Still, fashion is, purportedly, an art that pushes boundaries, even if it has inherited the unfortunate boundaries of the society of which it is a part.  This is an essay in itself.  What is interesting for the purposes of this post is how the beauty standards for fashion models differ from those for the average person in a given culture.  The purpose of fashion is to push boundaries, and so it continually shapes the beauty standards and trends for average people and then changes them.

Similarly, models are not held to the same set of standards.  Successful models have a certain set of common characteristics (tall, thin), as well as something that makes them “stand out”: a sharp nose, strong brow, angular jaw line.    At the same time, the desire for models who are tall and thin has necessarily led to an increase in models with androgynous bodies.  Perhaps the most popular androgynous model at the moment is Andrej Pejic, who in one season walked five men’s shows and four women’s shows.

His body seems to be proof that even biology is not dichotomous.  One would expect this to be more threatening, yet Andrej reports a happy, carefree childhood.  His mother is doting, his brother is supportive, and the hardest part of his teenage years, he says, was figuring out who he was.  The freedom that he seems to have felt from pressure to look or act a certain way, the ability to decide for himself who he wanted to be, is remarkable.  The following interview shows him to be level-headed and surprisingly unaffected by his sudden success as a model.

In the context of fashion, androgyny seems more acceptable, relatively speaking.  What do you think makes this the case?  Is this a positive move, or does it just reflect a fetishization of “unusual” bodies?

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