Many people still don’t understand that gender stereotyping is a serious form of discrimination. I feel so strongly against gender stereotyping that I made it a mission when creating my brand, Sacred Child Beauty, that we do not support any stereotypes. We fight against them. I strongly believe and preach that everyone should be seen and treated as equals. However you want to define yourself, I’m here to support you and so are many others. Since before any of our time, there have been gender bending pioneers testing the stereotypes of what it means to be a man or woman. Unfortunately, I can’t fit it all in one blog so that's why I decided to condense it by highlighting my absolute favorites by decade starting from the 1970’s. Enjoy!
David Bowie - The one and only, David Bowie. From a rock music legend to a powerful androgynous fashion force, David Bowie spent decades pushing against gender boundaries. He was the first mainstream music star to bring gender-bending fashion to front and center stage and one of few to announce that he was gay shortly after the British Parliament decriminalized homosexuality in 1976. His androgyny had no boundaries...whether it was his scarlet red mullet, his bright-blue makeup, shaved-off eyebrows, or high heels and dresses, he set trends and his fans followed. David Bowie was bold and risky. He was everything the 70’s and on needed.
Jean Paul Gaultier - Jean Paul Gaultier was the first icon I thought of when I started writing about this topic. I’m sure you remember the cone bra Madonna wore at one of his shows or the famous sailor shirts from his earliest lines. Gaultier simply did not believe in clothes defining gender. One of my favorite quotes regarding Jean Paul Gaultier by fashion icon, Eva de Vries, “Jean Paul Gaultier did not only redefine masculinity – he redefined gender and aestheticism in his work.” His second fashion line, released in 1981, gave him his nickname “enfant terrible.” He dared to cross lines no other designer during his time would ever imagine to, such as designing skirts under menswear and including nontraditional beautiful models in his runway shows. Gaultier was a master at representing life in different perspectives. He pushed boundaries, set trends, experimented, and talked about “uncomfortable” subjects through fashion in a way no one else could.
Prince - The 1970s were all about the glam. But in some ways the 1980s were even more fabulous, and for that reason I could never exclude Prince in this blog. His clothes, songwriting, performances, interviews, magazine cover photos, etc. all played a huge part in breaking against any gender norms. Prince broke free of any gender and sexuality confinement. He simultaneously shed any and all expectations automatically placed on both men and women.
Dennis Rodman - Dennis Rodman really did not care about what other people thought of him. He was determined to disrupt all norms, on and off the court. I decided to dedicate this decade to him because people rarely correlate this topic to a professional athlete. If you don’t know about Dennis Rodman’s hand in breaking gender norms, let me (very) briefly sum it up for you. He was a headline-making machine because of his “bad-boy” antics and also winning five NBA championships. Male professional athletes have this certain “manly” stereotype. Dennis went against this stereotype, while still dominating on the court. He cross-dressed, wore makeup, body jewelry, etc. His most famous moment was in 1996 when he went to promote his brazen memoir “Bad As I Wanna Be” wearing a full wedding gown and a wig. He was extremely daring but his goal was to challenge people to be their authentic selves and to fight against stereotypes.
RuPaul - Sometimes known as “The King of Queens,” is a musician, spokesmodel, author, drag star and more. He’s done plenty when it comes to bending gender norms, but let’s focus on his TV hit, RuPaul’s Drag Race. It averages well over a million viewers per episode. He preaches against a male-dominated culture. He expresses that doing drag is sending a big f-you to the idea and pressure that you have to stick to one identity. He believes that every individual should have the ability to “fly” and not “brand” yourself with just one color. If you don’t know his story, I highly recommend you read about it.
Lady Gaga - Queen Gaga! Nothing beats when a celebrity uses their platform to make the world a better place, and this is exactly what Gaga has been doing. She has (and continues to) challenged gender roles, faught for same-sex marriage rights, and many more important causes. She is more than just a performing artist. She has a passion for social change and uses her platform to spark conversations that need to happen. And if people don’t listen to her, she makes top chart songs that they can’t escape. Listen to “Born This Way” if you haven’t in a while. It's a banger.
Harry Styles - I seriously love him more and more everyday. Harry Styles continues to shatter gender norms every new project, song, music video, magazine cover, Instagram post at a time. His gestures, both small (rockin’ nail polish) and large (the Vogue cover, you know the one), have defied against gender norms. He’s basically throwing that perfect middle finger of his to toxic masculinity. Fine, I’ll talk about the Vogue cover. His 2020 December Vogue feature not only made history as the first solo male to grace the cover, but what he was wearing drew a lot of attention. He wore a dress in every photo of the spread and phewww it sure stirred the gender debate pot. Although it wasn’t his first time wearing a dress, let alone rocking gender neutral clothing/accessories, he openly expressed his position on the subject. He stated in the Vogue interview, “I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing.” I’m so eager to see what he does next to blur the “line” more.
In an era of gender fluidity, all bets are off. I am happy to know that I am very much not alone in my strong beliefs. People are finally using their voice and demanding basic human rights. There is no room or excuse for anything less. I would love to hear some of your favorite gender bending pioneers. Shoot me a DM on our page, and let’s talk!
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