The First Transmodel – Andreja Pejic

Andrej Pejic had been making headlines since starting his career in the Australian modelling scene. What made him so different was his androgynous look, allowing him to seamlessly model both men’s and women’s threads.

However, just last week, Pejic came out as transgender identifying herself now as Andreja Pejic. Pejic is set to become the world’s first trans model – making the path less difficult for others to follow.

In the past year, Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera have become household names due to their continuous advocacy for the transgender community.  As you may be aware, the transgender community faces a high proportion of discrimination, assault and homelessness often resulting in poverty and suicide. Whether or not Pejic chooses to be an advocate within the LGBT community, having Pejic in the spotlight as a transmodel brings these issues to the forefront and enables trans youth to have a face in the media that reflects their own.

As promising as Andreja Pejic’s coming out is, her fluidity in the fashion industry raises some interesting questions. The fashion industry has received a lot of negative attention in recent years for exacerbating Body Dysmorphic Disorder and other self-esteem related issues due to the impossible expectations placed on men and women based on what is portrayed in fashion media.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Tim Gunn says “The fact that fashion designers would put basically adolescent-shaped boys or men in women’s clothes is head-scratching for me because, anatomically, women and men have different shapes. So, to be looking at women’s fashion on a tall, skinny guy with no hips, there’s no way you can project yourself into those clothes.” The implication in this is that if you are a tall skinny girl with hips then all of a sudden you should be able to project yourself into those clothes. Is this what the Dove campaigns are about?

He elaborates, “On one hand, I don’t want to say that because you were a man and now you’re a woman, you can’t be in a women’s fashion show. But I feel it’s a dicey issue. The fact of the matter is, when you are transgender — if you go, say, male to female — you’re not having your pelvis broken and having it expanded surgically. You still have the anatomical bone structure of a man.”

This mentality stems from a fashion industry that uses cookie cutter men and women who model these clothes. The lack of diversity is a surprise to no one. The expectations are clear – women look one way, and all men look another. This fosters an intense amount of pressure on men and women to aspire to these ideals (if it’s even possible), or not bother belonging to the fashion elite at all. There is no room for a young Bangladeshi in the fashion industry unless you are being sexually and/or culturally exploited (thanks American Apparel).

Having someone like Pejic modelling women’s clothes despite what Gunn thinks encourages the rest of us to embrace our own differences and gives people the hope that there may be prospects of success without succumbing to society’s expectations.

As a final note of positivity,

“To all trans youth out there, I would like to say respect yourself and be proud of who you are. All human beings deserve equal treatment no matter their gender identity or sexuality. To be perceived as what you say you are is a basic human right.” – Andreja Pejic (quote from samesame.com.au)