A few days ago Vogue posted a photo of their August cover featuring Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik. They are both dressed in flamboyant clothing, layers of prints in structured silhouettes. After admiring their outfits, you’ll se the headline that reads: “Gigi and Zayn shop each other’s closets.” At first you’d think that it’s a peek into their relationship when really the story is more about how they’re “gender-bending” or “gender-fluid” because of their fashion choices.
In the interview, Zayn had this to say about an Anna Sui shirt that he borrows form Gigi, “I like that shirt. And if it’s tight on me, so what? It doesn’t matter if it was made for a girl.” To which Gigi replied, “Totally. It’s not about gender. It’s about, like, shapes. And what feels good on you that day. And anyway, it’s fun to experiment…” It’s great that the couple is comfortable with what they wear and see fashion as genderless but the gender-fluid community was not pleased.
The magazine made it seem like Gigi and Zayn were the faces of the gender-fluid community when neither of them identify as such. The non-binary community spoke up and thought it would have been better if Vogue got gender-fluid people to talk about the topic and issues surrounding it instead of a cisgender couple.
doesn’t vogue think non binary/gender fluid people would have been great to talk to abt gender fluidity? not gigi hadid and zayn malik?
— Shannon Steck (@shannonsteck) July 13, 2017
gigi and zayn: we share clothes!!!!
vogue: rEVOLUTIONARY ???? pic.twitter.com/gtLHsSBqz0
— lucas (@rhymresh) July 13, 2017
Vogue put Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik on the cover of their “gender fluidity” issue to highlight the importance of … swapping clothes? ? pic.twitter.com/inf5l4ANJ5
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 14, 2017
Yes, it is true that millennials are more open and accepting of gender identities but there is more to it than the clothes they wear. LGBTQ rights activist and writer Jacob Tobia released a response to the cover on Cosmopolitan wherein they talk about their struggles with identifying as genderqueer and finally feeling accepted by their peers. “Let me spell it out for you: Unlike how this new Vogue cover shoot presents it, the lived experience of being gender-nonconforming is rarely that fun and glamorous,” Jacob points out. They even noted that the shoot was appropriating the efforts and stands of gender-fluid people, “This, then, is flagrant cultural appropriations–taking symbols and ideas that were created by a group of oppressed people and using them, without credit, collaboration, or compensation, to elevate people who are not part of that oppressed group.”
Vogue eventually released an apology saying, “The story was intended to highlight the impact the gender-fluid, non-binary communities have had on fashion and culture. We are very sorry the story did not correctly reflect that spirit–we missed the mark.”
So what then does it mean to be gender-fluid? They don’t identify with being men or women, they see themselves as somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Some non-binary people don’t identify with a gender at all. It can be an ongoing process of figuring out their identity and expressing their true selves, whatever that might be.
Photo courtesy of Vogue’s Instagram account
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