While the mulling over the concept of modeling is its own juggernaut that I don’t feel I know enough about to take on in this venue, I did want to take a look at an article that I’ve noticed circulating online lately.
It’s subject is Andrej Pejic, a Serbian model from Australia who happens to be transgender. Evidently his transgendered look has seized the fascination of the fashion world, which has become all the rage as he models both men’s and women’s fashion and model agencies have experienced an influx of transgendered hopefuls.
His success has been chalked up to the novelty of his “guys look like girls” look. Or as stylist Kyle Anderson puts it, “He’s just this beautiful thing that everyone wants a piece of.”
Which is where the novelty suddenly ends. Usually the objectification and commodification of a human body is not put so bluntly, but that basically sums the culture of the fashion world and all who freely partake of it: “beautiful things” available for mass consumption by a voyeuristic audience. And this is normal and acceptable, and people willingly subject themselves to it.
Yet Pejic’s uniqueness (which probably won’t last long if the “transgendered look” becomes all the rage– androgyny has long been cherished as beautiful in “high fashion”), as a fashion model, as a human being, is subjected to the same processes which turn all models into generic, harmless, accessible, and consumable “beauty fodder”. hook’s “pornographic gaze” (in this case both male and female) can partake of Pejic in the same way they partake of all other reduced, even formless, personalities in fashion.
Perhaps the only novelty here is the increasing normality of the hypersexualization of males (from what I could glean, Pejic self-identifies as male), including the cooption of male sexuality– though it is, in fairness, often portrayed as feminine/female and hetero- sexuality.
Even a glance at Pejic’s portfolio reveals to us that while this is the hypersexualization of male entities, it is not masculine hypersexualization. Rather it is the hypersexualization of feminine sexuality as portrayed by a male entity. Nothing new there, either.
According to the article, Pejic’s status and beauty have likewise been appropriated by the LGBT community, under the premise of celebrating the diversification and increasing tolerance of difference within the realm of fashion. I see this as misguided: must we settle for the exploitative commodification of our gendered (whatever that may be) selves to gain “acceptance” or tolerance?