November 13, 2011

Androgyny --> Sexy and Subversive?

Model Lea T

Model Maryna Buniak

Model Andrej Pejic

I recently read this article, which posed the following question about the fashion industry's obsession with androgyny: 

"Is this a brave new world of open androgyny we're exploring—thanks to Pejic, Lea T (despite her protestations) and others—as the fashion media has opined? Or are we merely fetishizing Pejic's gender ambiguous status and sticking with the same old gender logic that certain qualities and physical characteristics automatically put you in one of two categories—man or woman—and you must pick a side?"

 I have to admit that I, too, am obsessed with androgyny. There is something so sexy and exciting about crossing normalized gender boundaries with appearance and self-image. Although this is how I interpret and experience androgyny, is this what the fashion industry aims to do? Personally, I don't think so. Just like using Blackface (which adds race into the picture), the fashion industry uses androgyny to reinforce a black and white dichotomy between male and female and masculine and feminine, all the while promoting consumer capitalism. They might challenge a few norms in the process, but I don't think that's the outcome. Rather than being taken seriously, transgender men and women and everything in between are fetishized and presented as veuristic spectacles so that fashion brands can make a statement and sell clothes. And, at the end of the day, the proper hierarchy between rich and poor, black and white, men and women, and masculine and feminine is reinstated and confirmed. Oh, and so is the ideal female body image--thin, light-skinned, and able-bodied.

But I still find androgyny sexy and subversive, in my own way.

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