Androgyny has long been a go to in the fashion industry, but recently the degree of androgyny has been taken to new heights. The picture of above is off one of the most in demand models of the moment, Andrej Pejiic. Andrej is a male model who took the industry by storm, in 2011 when he walked both female and male fashion shows of Jean Paul Gaultier Paris Fashion Week. Ever since his modeling agency, Storm Models has listed him under both its male and female division.
Of course Andrej’s rise to the top of the industry has not come without controversy in May, 2011, Pejić’s magazine cover for the New York-based magazine Dossier Journal —in which Pejić is pictured taking off a white shirt with long blond locks in curlers—was ruled too risqué by US bookstores Barnes & Noble and Borders. These bookstores chose to cover the image with an opaque sleeve due to concerns customers would mistake Pejić for a topless woman.In September 2011 Pejiic was ranked number 98 on FHM “Sexiest Women in the World 2011”. And in December 2011 Pejiic did a campaign selling push up bras to women under the brand Hema.
Another androgynous model making it big at the moment is Stav Strasko. He is the star of a recent Japanese August 2012 commercial for Toyota Auris. Surely, you will be mislead by the commercial until the very end for the big reveal, the model strutting towards the car is a boy.
Other prominent models of the moment are More up and coming androgynous models: David Chiang, Nikolai Gubenko, Roger Garth, Wicktor Hansson,Ace Neumann, Fredrik Ferirer, Matti Bygod,Michael Tintiuc, Kris Lukas,Patrick Kuszman,Andrey Korovko, Dima Kopeikins,Louis de Castro, and Danila Kovalev . Some which are pictured below.
Before getting to the heart of this article, some terms needs to be defined: gender, sex, masculine, and feminine. Gender is one’s sexual identity in relation to one’s society and culture, while sex is one’s a biological condition given by their gonads (things can get complicated for sex for special cases like XXY, hypoplasia, AIS, and gueves-doces). Masculinity can be defined simply as having characteristics of a man, while femininity can be defined as having characteristics of a woman.
The recent surge in androgynous models in the fashion industry can be considered both a good thing and a bad thing. It can be considered a good thing because in a sense because they pushing gender boundaries by redefining what is considered feminine and masculine. Consequently, as result they are promoted increased tolerance for people who do not identify with traditional gender roles. The ease in which these models transition between modeling male and female clothing is astounding, it shows the arbitrariness of gender. The gender roles assigned to sexes are not as rigid as society has made it out to be. The showy behavior attached to feminine behavior of women in most species of animals it is the male sex that exerts this behavior. The male is usually the sex more elaborately colored, who fights for the attention of the female.
Being perceived as masculine or feminine is all a matter body positioning. As Aaron Devor eloquently puts it in his essay Gender Roles and Attitudes in the Signs of Life in the USA book,
People appear feminine when they keep their arms closer to their bodies, their legs closer together, and their torsos and heads less vertical…People also look feminine when they point their toes inward and their hands or small or childlike gestures…[while] typical masculine body postures to be expansive and aggressive. People who hold their arms and hands in positions away from their bodies, and who stand, sit, or lie with their legs apart—thus maximizing the amount of space they physically occupy—appear most physically masculine…standing erect and moving forcefully also tend to appear more masculine. Movements that are abrupt and stiff, communicating force and threat rather than flexibility and cooperation, make an actor appear more masculine. (674-76)
These male models are fully aware of this and use this to their advantage.
The downside to the surge of androgynous models in the fashion industry is it may cause women to feel increasing insecure about their bodies. Many women already feel insecure by the tall skinny female models already out there. Well these male models who models sometimes model female attire are an average of 6 ft. 1, which on average is 3-4 inches taller than the average female models, and don’t have breast or hips. As a result the body images promoted by these men are even more impossible for women to achieve, simply stated because they are biological not men. They do not have the same hormones present to amass the same body structure.
There is by no way the fashion industry is going to stop its redefining of gender roles. However, we must be aware of both the positive and negative implications of this and cautiously proceed forward.
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