2015 has seemed like the most polarized year in the fight for equality thus far, be it in regards to race, feminism, and LGBTQI rights. With people becoming more socially conscious and aware, it seems opinions become more apparent and sides are taken. This can be said of any issue being faced by disenfranchised groups of individuals in any industry. The fashion industry is no exception. If anything, it’s the one industry where social ideals are tested pushed to the limits and completely redefined on a regular basis.
The industry has definitely seen a metamorphosis in relation to what is perceived as ‘beautiful’. Where you have traditional designers still opting for traditional standards of both feminine and masculine beauty, you also have newer and edgier up and coming designers focusing on models who don’t subscribe to typical aesthetic standards or gender roles for that matter.
Model Casey Legler is one of the first women to be signed exclusively as a male model.
But in true fashion form, fads come to pass faster than most can keep up with. In fact, Hari Nef was recently interviewed and when asked about how she felt of the fashion industry’s recent inclusion of the transcommunity, she said “Fashion is having a moment with trans aesthetics, not trans issues.”
Rico the Zombie and Andreja Pejic
There’s definitely truth to the statement. Fashion oft seeks to push boundaries and challenge the norm. One of my favorite Alexander McQueen prompts us all to “find beauty in the grotesque”. But is that the message fashion is sending to the trans community? Is the ‘inclusion’ and ‘acceptance’ of trans models simply that, or a commodification of androgynous aesthetic meant to draw crowds and make money off of the strange and ‘unnatural’ like a circus freak show performance?
In her interview Nef also brings up the fact that when given the choice between herself and another cisgendered model, the cis girls often get the better end of the stick, saying that she’ll never be the kind of girl that gets two looks at a Valentino runway show.
So what gives? Is it a matter of odds? I mean if you really think abut it, the trans community is very small. The amount of trans women in the industry is probably even smaller. Factor in the level of natural talent it takes to be a top industry model and you’re left with a very small crop to pull from. In this case, it’s just a numbers game.
But what about the matter of addressing the issues as they stand?
Personally, I think the industry is doing it’s best to promote a safe environment where it can employ and promote talent regardless of gender. Change is often slow to start and in order for the masses to be accepting of the unknown, small steps must be taken. In contrast to the rest of society I’d say fashion is ahead by leaps and bounds in addressing the true issue of equal representation. Providing a platform for these young muses allows them to find their voice in an industry that’s closely covered by the media and general public. Giving a face and voice to the once faceless and voiceless in my opinion is definitely a step in the right direction. Only time will tell if the industry manages to maintain it’s relationship with the trans community and foster a sense of change together, but I think the future is bright for both communities to thrive together.