Andrej Pejic is an Australian supermodel who triumphantly models as both genders. In an interview for New York Times Magazine in 2011 Pejic stated, “I guess professionally I’ve left my gender open to artistic interpretation”. Pejic has become the ideal face for representing the revolutionary changes within current fashion trends as well as ideas surrounding beauty.
He is biologically male but can look every inch the next Elle McPherson. With a manly height on 6ft and 2 inches combined with sun kissed locks and minute facial features Pejic represents a new form of beauty- but what’s more a new form of identity, gender and normality. His unique physicality blurs the rigid gender binary to a magnificent degree, attesting to the performative nature of gender as well as challenging our ideas surrounding an “ideal” masculinity and femininity. With images of Pejic’s gender-bending face gradually becoming a recognisable part of fashions mainstream, the gender binary could soon become not only a thing of fashions past but more excitingly of society’s as well.
Pejic has walked in both men and women fashion shows for the past few years. He has taken to the catwalk for legendary designer Jean Paul-Gaultier on numerous occasions who described Pejic as an “other worldly beauty” and cast him as Gaultier’s bride in his spring 2011 couture show. But even for men’s shows Pejic is often dressed as a woman. For Gaultier’s 2011 menswear collection Pejic was seen dressed as Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent’s androgynous female muse. Now I’m sure many “normal” men may shudder at the idea of Pejic, a guy who they’d probably love to take home who wears dresses and poses in fashionable women’s designer gear, is the new form of “ideal” masculinity.
However, it’s hard to resist. Pejic’s entire appearance is a delicate combination of traditionally feminine attributes as well as masculine. It forces us to question what is feminine and what is masculine? So far so I wouldn’t blame any heterosexual man to fall in awe of Pejic’s outstanding beauty! The existence of such an extraordinary gender-bending identity reinforces gender as a construct, which can be de-constructed and reduced to parts. But what physical attributes reveal Pejic’s biological sex? Pejic has the faintest trace of Adam’s apple, strong jawline, plump lips, feline cheekbones and skinny physique. The combination of these delightfully bewildering characteristics are I feel why Pejic is so successful, something Oscar Montero explores when describing what it is that makes drag queens so seductive.
In “Lipstick Vogue: The Politics of Drag” Montero states “The imperfection of her imitation is what makes her appealing, what makes her eminently readable. Fool proof imitations of women by men, or men by women are curious, but not interesting. There has to be some tell-tale, not the gross five o’clock shadow or the limp wrist of the amateur, but something readable, a foot that is too big, a subtle gesture or the peculiar grain of the voice”. This summarises the beauty and allure of Pejics beauty. It’s not full proof and we seek to find what is masculine and feminine.
For me what gives Pejic’s game away is his flat chest. However, as slimness has long been deemed “ideal” by fashions standards, perhaps his flat chest really is the epitome of femininity! It seems that boy breasts are fine but girl breasts are not. But what happens when you can’t tell one from the other like in Pejics case? Should we be estimating breast volume when deciding when to filter the image and when not? If so Google has their work cut out for them! But anyway with the appearances of models such as Andrej Pejic in mainstream visual media and fashion campaigns it’s clear that ideas surrounding “ideal” femininity are changing. Hoorah!
Just to point out I’m still not entirely sure if Pejic is a male or female. May I propose a penis slip sometime soon?!
Anne of Carversville (N.D) Pretty Boy’ Andrej Pejic Talks Sex, Love & Leaving His Gender to ‘Artistic Interpretation’ [online] available from<http://www.anneofcarversville.com/sensuality/2011/8/15/pretty-boy-andrej-pejic-talks-sex-love-leaving-his-gender-to.html> (16th May 2014)
Montero, O (1988) Lipstick Vogue: The Politics of Drag. Radical America 22,1:41