There's been a lot of talk lately – and controversy – about someone called Andrej Pejic. Andrej is a local boy from one of the tougher parts of town how has somehow transcended his background to become an international fashion model of some repute (modelling for Jean-Paul Gaultier in Paris no less). What is remarkable – and controversial – about Andrej is that he models as a woman.
As a male he is striking in a pale, androgynous way. As a women he is beautiful. Unsurprisingly the mere existence of a cross-dressing model has caused ructions in certain circles. It's hard for many to separate themselves from the black and white views of conventional culture. Is it a he? A she? What does it mean? For many it's a very unsavoury proof of the degeneration of society.
I take a different view, as do many others more enlightened. It's comforting to label things; once labelled much of the world slides easily into our personal taxonomy. Labels are just words though, loose definitions of what has come before. Male, female, boy, girl, these are the generic terms we've come to describe human life. It's not as simple as that though, as we know, even if many wish it were. A label is a word; people are individuals. It's individuality that is really important.
Society has come a long way in its general acceptance of what was once described as 'queer'. It's not universal and it never will be, but it is much more widespread than it was 20 years ago. Surprisingly the acceptance of someone like Pejic is much more contentious now than it was in the less enlightened days of the eighties when, nonetheless, the androgynous look embodied by the likes of Boy George, Marilyn, and many others were defining looks of the decade.
I grew up through that period and never cottoned on to the look, nor indeed the music – it was not my style. And in truth I probably looked down my nose a little at the likes of Boy George because his appearance and behaviour seemed beyond my comprehension – a sports loving rocker as I might have been described then.
I'm more mature now and live in a more mature, sophisticated and enlightened society. I'm the antithesis of the androgynous look – broad shouldered, muscular and masculine – but that doesn't prevent me from being sympathetic to Pejic and the others following in his wake – and indeed anyone who chooses a different path. You respect the individual, not judge the stereotype.
Pejic for his part appears to be an intelligent, resilient character aware of the controversy he creates, but seemingly above it. In all I have seen and read of him he seems to act with an amused and easy detachment, gracious and dignified. Does dressing up in women's clothes make him gay? Does it matter? Of course not (for all I know he's a raving pantsman). In fact in some small way it highlights the silliness and hypocrisy of much of society. Being gay is no big deal. The same people who watch a gay model parading a mens suit down the catwalk frown when a man parades instead in a dress. Being gay is no big deal if you conform. Being gay and dressing like a girl is for some going too far.
I applaud him. We have to get over these silly prejudices. Andrej Pejic is going his own way and all power to him.
- Boys to femme (theage.com.au)
- Futuristic Metal-Faced Models – The Andrej Pejic Dazed and Confused Spread is Beyond this World (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Androgynous Male Model Andrej Pejic for Jean Paul Gaultier (narcissusblog.wordpress.com)
- Andrej Pejic Discovered While Working At McDonald's, Wants To Do Playboy (huffingtonpost.com)