The Covergirl is Really a Boy

Andrej Pejic Collage by Taxcha

While at the hairdresser`s last week, I was leafing through, what else, a fashion magazine, when I found myself doing a double take. In the February 2012 issue of FASHION, a 16-page photo shoot features Bosnian-born Australian model Andrej Pejic. The 20-year-old blond bombshell has become a sensation in the modelling world in the last year working for such A-listers as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs. In fact, Pejic is reportedly the 11th highest paid model in the world. But the model did not have an easy start breaking into the fashion world because agencies found that Pejic wasn`t a perfect fit for either men's or women's modelling. Yes, Andrej Pejic is a man.

Well, androgyny is no stranger to high fashion, and most of us are used to seeing curveless, emaciated boyish models, but to have a man modelling women's clothing is something else altogether, and I don't think that it has anything to do with forward thinking. Yes, we are all aware that many people fall outside the straight male-female mainstream, and the last decade has been somewhat of a coming-out time for transgender individuals. But I doubt that the fashion industry is that high-minded or is in any way trying to raise awareness about transgender issues.

In FASHION, Editor Bernadette Morra pens a letter in which she magnanimously states "I would hope that in this age of same-sex marriage, gay characters on Glee and Ellen DeGeneres as a Cover Girl Spokesmodel, the world is ready to accept Pejic with all the love and humanity he deserves." This issue also features an interview with Pejic with some commentary from Toronto Certified sexuality educator Cory Silverberg which sheds some more light on Pejic's "situation" or anyone who strays from the straight male / female mainstream. Sounds all very inclusive. . .

However, I don't believe that the fashion industry thinks about anything other than sales and what better way than through controversy. It peddles shock value, pure and simple.

I bought the magazine and showed it to a few of my work colleagues just to see their reactions when I told them that Pejic was a man. I watched them with their fingers pointing and eyes widening, but the knee jerk reactions and frowns were reserved for the captions written on the pages of the Pejic's 16-page fashion spread. On a page where he is modeling a $925 banana yellow wraparound dress, the caption reads: "Very chic. When I'm a rich housewife, this is what I'm gonna wear. I'll wear it when I'm cooking." On another page where Petric's thinness is emphasized and he's wearing a beige jacket that further washes out his fair complexion, the caption reads, "Golden Girls on crack." Funny, he doesn't look like a senior.

My reservations about Andrej Pejic modelling women's clothes is the message that it sends women, particularly girls and young women. Not only does the fashion industry suggest that they will never be thin enough to be beautiful, but now it appears to be saying that in order to really be a great fashion model you have to be a man. In FASHION Editor Bernadette Morra's letter, she quotes the director, Suzie Sheffman, as saying "[Pejic's] His ability to bring the clothes to life out-supers the supermodels." So, there you have it.

Although I have nothing against Andrej Pejic, I wish that I had never bought the magazine. I hate the idea of supporting an industry that continually targets women's insecurities. We are just starting to see the impact of how the media undermines women's power through its images and commentary. If you don't believe me then think of all the times you've wasted worrying about your appearance or weight when you could have been doing something to advance your career, develop an interest or work for your community. A great documentary on the subject is Miss Representation. See the trailer below.

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