The Femiman: Are Gender Bending Male Models Taking Over Women's Fashion?

Isabel Wilkinson wrote a fascinating article in the Daily Beast today about the latest trend of male models wearing womenswear on the runways. Yes, it seems that men are wearing women's clothes and are being used as the face of ad campaigns geared towards women. The trend -which is just in its infancy stage is being referred to as femiman. Wilkinson profiles Andrej Pejic, a lithe 19-year-old Serbian/Australian blond man/girl who debuted in Jean-Paul Gaultier's Paris show last year and has appeared in French Vogue, Italian Vogue and Turkish Vogue. Last week he was unveiled as the face of Marc Jacobs' Spring 2001 campaign.

The New York Times suggested that 2010 was the year of the Transexual and they seem to be right. Pop culture has been the center of gender bending flip flop thanks celebrities like Lady Gaga, Nicky Minaj and former American Idol, Adam Lambert, all of whom present an over sexualized, albeit androgynous front in their fashion choices. Amelia Rauser, a professor of art history at Franklin and Marshall College recently pointed out to me that we haven't seen this much gender flim-flam in American culture since the 1970s, and even then it rarely crossed over to mainstream fashion.  "Up until now fashion was the domain of women, it was totally feminized," Rauser told me in an interview for a recent column I wrote on Lady Gaga. Now it seems men are becoming a part of the magic of fashion not just on the sidelines but on the runways. Even young boys are expressing themselves in female dress. In November, a mom defended her 5-year-old son, Boo for dressing up like Daphne from Scooby Doo on the blog Nerdy Applebottom. And last week I was watching the Today Show and was introduced to mom Cheryl Kilodavis, who wrote a picture about her 5-year-old son Dyson called My Princess Boy. Kilodavis self-published the book in early 2010 and Simon & Schuster picked it up in November. Bravo for self-expression.

andrej
Male model Andrej Pejic on the runway.

And while I'm excited that people - especially little boys - are finding the freedom to express themselves without fear of  being ostracized, I'm concerned about the trend of men wearing women's clothing on the runways. This is why: Women have had to endure major body image issues simply because the beauty standards of a 5-10 inch 110 pound blond woman are nearly possible to achieve for even the most carb-hating of us. What happens when a lithe male becomes the most coveted image in fashion? Marc Jacobs is one of the industry's most influential designers, after all. At this rate, it  won't be too long before male models are cover girls on American fashion magazines. The average sized women, who is 5-4 and about 150 pounds will have to give up shopping.  I know - probably better than most - that fashion is the domain of gay men. Many gay men have a fantastic sense of style, however, I still believe that is part of the reason why there is such a disconnect between what women want to wear every day and what is sold in stores. I think we are taking it a bit too far when a transvestite - who has no hips - is the idealized female image. What does that say about femininity?

 

 
 

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