Gender Fluidity in Fashion: Stigma Needs to Be Broken

Gender fluidity is when you are not fixed to a specific gender and it changes over time, one day a man and the next a woman.

When used in the fashion industry it relates to men and women using clothes as free expression against gender norms, such as women wearing power suits and men wearing heels.

According to Refinery29 signs of gender fluidity have been around way before the 21st century. 

There are examples of people who defy traditional gender conventions that exist across different cultures and history. 

There are Hijras of India and Ancient Egyptians who gender-swapped to get into the afterlife.

Harry Styles made history back in November debuting as the first solo male on the cover of Vogue. There was a small controversy due to the Gucci lace gown he was wearing in the shoot. 

Many saw this as a beautiful revelation in pop culture, but some found it as a disturbance and a demonstration of him not being masculine.

Commentator Candace Owens tweeted, “Bring back manly men” after the cover was released. Owens has been receiving backlash since then, while Styles is receiving the utmost support from fans and other celebrities.

When I saw Harry Styles’ cover I was so excited and wowed by the photo. 

I did not see it as controversial, because in my mind this is fashion and this is what keeping up with the times looks like nowadays.

Our society progresses at a fast pace with what is in and what is not, especially things having to do with the LGBTQIA+ community and fashion.

For a man to wear a dress it does not make him less of a man, it makes him a braver man to feel free to express himself in such a bold manner as long as the expression is used in a respectful manner. 

If a man wants to wear a dress because he likes it he should be able to, just as women are glorified when wearing a suit.

When celebrities like Zendaya or Blake Lively show up to an event in a power suit there is nothing but praise for weeks, but the moment a man breaks a gender norm he receives backlash.

Women are not seen as less of a woman for wearing a suit, they are seen as a business woman, a powerful being.

When men wear makeup and heels or paint their nails it is looked down upon and they are suddenly stripped of their masculinity by the negative public. This is not right.

I myself have experimented with different fashion choices to express myself, because I do not see clothing as something that defines my gender or sexual orientation. 

Many females who go thrifting sift through the mens section for sweaters and t-shirts and it is not a big deal, they just simply like the items of clothing.

Sure certain clothing categories can put you in a stereotype, like wearing basketball shorts labels you as athletic or a jock.

But I try to just not care what others think when it comes to my clothes, because as long as I am comfortable with my choice that is all that matters.

Others do believe that this type of behavior is unacceptable. 

Men and women wearing articles of clothing that do not coincide with their genders should not be a normalized subject. 

Some believe it is untraditional and relates it to the person personally making a snap judgement.

Sometimes if a man wears makeup it does have to do with them preferring their femine side more, but it does not make them less of a man. 

And if a woman prefers to cut her hair in a shorter style it doesn’t dictate their sexual orientation. 

It is no one’s place to make a judgment or label someone based on their style except that person themself.

We are living in 2020 where all types of things should be accepted; small things like a man wearing clothes should not be this much of an issue. 

I said a man wearing clothes not a man wearing womens clothing because that is all it is, a man wearing clothes.

It is not like this is the first time a famous male has been on a magazine cover in “womens clothing.”

Back in 1999 when Brad Pitt was on the Rolling Stones cover wearing multiple dresses, he did not receive this type of backlash.

According to Pitt’s 1999 Rolling Stones shoot Pitt said, “I’ve got a real weird idea… For this movie I’m doing, I’m going to have to be pretty big… And I thought about shooting me in dresses… But we’re not talking about me in drag; we’re talking about me coming from another planet.”

It was a milestone in both of these heartthrobs’ careers to break gender stereotypes in a public manner. 

When asked about their thoughts on gender fluidity in the fashion industry Dimond Seniors Konan Lavivong and Haylie Hansen were well educated on the topic and ready to give their opinions.

Lavivong said, “Gender fluidity is an umbrella term,” meaning it is a word that other singular words can be categorized under together. 

“I think it’s a good thing it exists in fashion so it allows people to explore new things out of their comfort zones and express themselves freely.
“I myself have had my own journey with being fluid in fashion.”

Hansen said, “I think that clothes do not have a gender and I think anyone should be able to wear whatever clothes they want.

“Half of the pants I wear are mens pants.”

When asked about Harry Styles Vogue cover they both look at it from a normalized point of view.

Hansen said, “First of all he is an incredibly appearing man.

“Clothes do not have a gender and the whole Candice Owens thing was ignorant. Like what makes him manly, hunting and fishing?

“I think wearing the dress is what should’ve been done, period. He is out here changing the fashion game just by wearing whatever he wants.”

Lavivong said, “I was like, ‘You go Harry.’”

“I accepted it the way it was, just a guy wearing a dress.
“Why should we be judging others for that… It just needs to be accepted as it is.”

From the other side of the spectrum with women wearing suits they were both in agreement that it is not a bad thing at all for a girl to pull off a power look.

Lavivong said, “I don’t think it’s bad at all, clothes are just clothes.”

Hansen said, “First Zendaya, period. 

“Clothes don’t have gender so it doesn’t have to affect anyone. I think it’s good that celebrities with a platform are using it to help others express themselves.

“Just because a man wears a dress it doesn’t make him gay. Just because a woman wears a suit doesn’t make her gay.”

The progression of normalizing these gender norms being broken is difficult. 

Lavivong said, “In American gender fluidity isn’t as accepted compared to other countries foregin countries. K-Pop is a prime example.”

It’s not that we are not as big at bringing these trends to the table, but we are slower at finally accepting them. 

Lavivong said, “America isn’t very adaptable to these things.”
Hansen said, “I definitely think it should be normalized by now, but only through this generation will it happen.

“Gen Z is far more educated than the past generation and are more involved in the different cultures and the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Growing up with this all established should make us more understanding towards the subject.”

There are many more influential personas that have graced us with their beautiful displays of gender-neutral fashion choices according to Buzzfeed such as Billy Porter, Ruby Rose, Katherine Hepburn, Kristen Stewart, Elliot Page, Jennifer Lopez, Sam Smith, Bad Bunny, Lil Nas X, Jaden Smith. Elton John, Madonna, Prince and David Bowie.

The whole stigma of clothes defining who you are needs to be broken; it is not clothes that define us but ourselves. Clothes are just an extension of you.