You’re a beautiful (wo)man but get off the catwalk
Aussie runway model Andrej Pejic is one gorgeous specimen. With strikingly good looks and legs that go on forever, the Serbian-born beauty has caught the eye of every fashion designer on the planet. Looking fabulous in floor length gowns is no challenge for the 19-year-old supermodel but there’s just one thing that differentiates Pejic from other models on the catwalk - Andrej Pejic is a man.
Pejic’s knack for modelling both men’s and women’s clothing has sent the well-kept feathers of the fashion world flying. International designers have all clamoured to use his androgynous look while the glitterati flock to catch a glimpse of ‘the chick who is actually a dude’.
I love seeing Pejic looking incredible in mini-skirts and corseted bustiers. Heck, I would kill for his legs. What I don’t love however, is seeing him waltzing down the runway in clothes that are supposedly designed for women.
Sure, he’s beautiful, tall, blond, looks great in heels and has a strut to rival Naomi Campbell. But just because he looks the part, doesn’t mean he should land the role. I struggle to understand how clothes made for women can be modelled on a man’s body. And the worst part is the clothes seem to fit him like a glove.
We regularly hear outrage from psychologists over the dangerous precedent set by androgynous looking models such as Kate Moss and Agyness Deyn, but the same experts seem strangely silent on Pejic’s influence on young girls. Numerous studies have already shown that exposure to ultra-thin models can lead to increased body dissatisfaction - so wouldn’t idolising a male figure lead to similar problems?
The runway often showcases impractical pieces that could rarely be worn by anyone other than Lady Gaga, but parading clothes perfectly tailored to the male physique goes past impractical and on to plain insulting.
It is certainly no secret that haute-couture designers do not design clothes for an “average woman,” but I never realised they were actually designing them for a (maybe not-so-average) man.
My question to all designers is: If you had made a men’s business suit, would it be acceptable to use a buxom and curvaceous women as your model? Of course not. Why should women’s clothing be any different?
While the world is amazed and bemused by Pejic’s ability to gracefully walk in 6-inch heels, nobody seems to care that his body doesn’t actually look anything like a woman’s. Sure, some women do have ‘boyish’ figures but the majority of real women are curvy. Not fat, just not straight up-and-down. And most men would happily say that’s the way a woman should be.
Women have already spent years comparing themselves to the waif thin models who are biologically female. Are we now supposed to compare our bodies with men? We are physically different creatures and were never meant to look the same.
With the average woman in Australia being closer to a size 14 than a size 8, designers need to wake up and realise clothes need to look good on a body, not just on a hanger.
I’m no Coco Chanel, but I’m certain I could design a dress that would look great hanging limply on a coat-hanger. The real skill lies in making a dress that looks beautiful with a real woman inside. These hoity-toity fashion designers can demand $5000 for a single skirt, so why can’t we as the consumer demand real women on the runways?
If we have reached a time when it is acceptable for men to wear women’s clothing, it would be a truly wonderful thing. If however, Andrej Pejic is being used as a media novelty, only to be cast aside months down the track, then we are not only sending dangerous signals to young girls, we are also insulting and ridiculing the trans-gender community.
Andrej Pejic should be commended for making people question the conventional norms of society. But the fashion community should be shamed, not just for idolising unrealistic body shapes, but for promoting a body shape that is physiologically impossible for women to attain.
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