The Most Androgynous Look From The iHeart Radio Music Awards Blurred Masculine Tropes — PHOTOS
As non-binary visibility increases in our culture and media, androgyny in fashion is becoming much more widely accepted — made evident in the gender-bending of runways, brand campaigns, and celebrity events like the iHeart Radio Music Awards celebrating trans models or folks who blur the lines of femme and masc. As a gender-nonconforming person, I feel so lucky to live in an era of style where my role models can include Hari Nef and Rain Dove: Figures who have affected the way fashion perceives gender.
Unfortunately, I've noticed a pattern of exclusion regarding men and androgyny. Although genderqueer and trans people are becoming more represented in fashion and beauty industries, imagery of androgyny in fashion is usually limited to women with semi-masculine features rocking neutral-toned menswear. There's not yet a lot of representation for masculine people performing femininity and, in turn, some of the most marginalized groups within our population (like trans women and genderqueer people assigned male at birth).
That's why Jared Leto's red carpet outfit for the first iHeartRadio Music Awards in 2014 was so significant in its undeniable femininity. Before trans and non-binary lives were brought into the public consciousness (arguably after Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover in 2015 and Jaden Smith's involvement with Louis Vuitton's womenswear), Leto was confidently rocking a skirt under a graphic button-up and light blue blazer. It was pretty groundbreaking stuff.
This means less for trans visibility — since Leto doesn't publicly identify as trans or gender nonconforming — and more for men who are afraid to explore things aesthetically without the restriction of gender binaries. After all, you can be a man, wear a skirt, and have those two things coexist peacefully. But with femininity still arguably being stigmatized (often viewed as synonymous with "weak" or "shallow"), most men are taught early on that femininity isn't for them.
Leto proved that those traits are accessible to all men, and should even be proudly rocked in public and for formal occasions such as the red carpet.
In the same way that women are often expected to perform classic ideas of femininity at these sort of events (any woman not wearing a gown still being deemed a rule-breaker), men are expected to prescribe to a very particular form of masculinity. At formal and red carpet gatherings, this usually means a tux: Simple, neutral, and manly.
I love Leto for showing men that there are, in fact, many other sartorial options that can be rocked on the red carpet or elsewhere, and for demonstrating an unflinching desire to incorporate "feminine" things like skirts and long hair into a masculine identity.
Ultimately, gender is a heavily constructed social phenomena, and it's hardly necessary for anyone to follow these antiquated guidelines so closely. Even if you're a masculine person to whom skirts feel inherently feminine, there's nothing wrong with that. Take Leto's example, and do you.
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