Portfolio of Hope

‘Androgyny’ refers to the state of being neither fully masculine nor fully feminine. In other words, it is a combination of two gender identities/a mix of masculinity and femininity, where the lines between what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman, become blurred (‘Andro’=Latin reference to maleness/men, ‘Gyn’= reference to women).

People who are androgynous are typically gender ‘non-conforming’, meaning that they will wear whatever they want to wear, whether from the men’s department or the women’s department (i.e. unisex clothing). Why? Because androgynous people tend to rebel against gender stereotypes in pursuit of their own ‘truth’, particularly where fashion and their own personal style is concerned.

Not to be confused with being transgender or non-binary though, being androgynous is simply about one’s fashion choices/the clothes they choose to wear, NOT who they are as a person/their sexual orientation/gender (though, of course, people can be transgender AND androgynous- androgyny can be about one’s identity- but all I am saying is that the two do not necessarily always go hand in hand. In fact, they often don’t. Androgyny, for most people, is simply about fashion and style/the way they choose to express themselves)…

Although people might look at the rise in transgender people in our society, and the rise in people embracing androgyny, as something ‘new’, it has, in fact, been around for decades. The reason why we are seeing and hearing about it so much more today is because such things, like mental health, have become less taboo, and therefore more people feel able to publically talk about their experiences rather than hiding away who they really are out of fearing that they will be criticised, as might have been the case in the past. Just look at David Bowie, one of the most famous musicians of all times, as an example of the longstanding presence of androgyny in our society. Bowie certainly embraced an androgynous look, especially with his persona of ‘Ziggy Stardust’, and that was in the 1970s, over 50 years ago, when people on the whole were a lot more conservative in their views, a lot less accepting of people who didn’t fit the norms of society. But still, Bowie was accepted and loved by people all over the world- he was, to describe him in one word, an icon, as was Boy George, another famous musician who very much embraced what it means to be androgynous in style, often wearing makeup and women’s attire.

When I think about musician’s embracing an androgynous style today, the first person who pops into my mind is Harry Styles. Again, like Bowie, Styles expresses a great level of freedom over his fashion choices, ignoring what a 20 something male would usually wear and instead opting for his own taste (sometimes that being smart suits, sometimes it being a great big pink fluffy tutu)…

Harry Styles

Now, above I’ve mentioned two men who have both embraced androgyny and gender non conformity as an exciting concept (David Bowie and Harry Styles), so, to use an example of a woman who has also done this, I urge you to look to the immensely talented actress, Jodie Comer. Comer is one of my biggest fashion inspirations, with the suits she wears exuding power and confidence. Watching her, and Cara Delevingne, it makes me want to wear suits myself, to wear blazers. And, wearing blazers? It makes me feel like I can hold my head up a little bit taller, walk with a little bit more self assurance. Although typically ‘masculine’, they make me feel good and, to me, that’s all that should matter when you wake up on a morning deciding what to wear that day- it doesn’t matter if it would usually be found hanging up in a man’s wardrobe, heck, it doesn’t even matter that you might get some funny looks, you will feel happy, confident in your own skin, and that is absolutely priceless, especially when it comes to maintaining positive body image, which should, ultimately, be the goal of every single one of us…

It is therefore incredibly important that we stay true to ourselves, and, if that means dressing unconventionally, then so be it. Conventionality, like normality and, come to think of it, gender, is merely a construct created by us to make sure we neatly fit into, and follow the rules of, society (as discussed in my previous post, linked here). Androgyny then allows us to express ourselves without the confines of gender/it allows us to be gender non conforming.

It should be noted that a certain degree of privilege does exist when it comes to embracing an androgynous style, with that privilege being dependent on one’s biological sex. A woman is less likely to be judged for being androgynous- for wearing suits and ties etc.- in comparison to a man who, chances are, if he decided to rock up to work wearing a dress and tights, would get some funny looks. This is something that we need to work on addressing, so that everyone, regardless of their sex, can wear the clothes that they feel comfortable in and, ultimately, be the person whom they want to be (i.e., their happiest and most authentic self). When we can do this, we will all live in a happier, more fulfilled society. And so, ensuring that everyone has the right to self-expression? It will benefit us all.

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