By: Derrel Hall
When I was around 7 years old, I remember questioning why I could go to the swimming pool without my shirt on, yet girls had to cover their bodies. It was so strange to me that it in some parts of the world women went topless in their everyday lives without any societal resistance. Yet western society says it is taboo to expose the breasts. Oddly enough, I’ve seen men go shirtless with bigger boobs than most women. To me, boys and girls have always been the same because they both come in different shapes and sizes that crossover the binary line.
Originally, heels were created for men. During the Baroque and Rococo periods in Europe, with the expansion of the gap between aristocracy and commoners, men’s heels raised to stand over those of lower socioeconomic levels. It was a sign of masculinity and status. In a sense, it represents how Jordan’s are a sign of status for inner city black people today. Even more, during this time pink was designated for boys. But who determined that heels and makeup are feminine today? Who decided that nail polish was purely for women and not just a gender-neutral artistic expression of dress? Who decided that women need to cover up and men can be unrestricted? Until I find these answers, I refuse to abide by this idea of the gender binary.
I’ve noticed that a girl can go her entire life wearing jeans and a t-shirt and no one questions it. Yet, a boy puts on a dress and suddenly everyone has a problem. There is something inherently wrong and misogynistic with that. Some days, I’m feeling more masculine and others quite feminine. In this shoot, from the nail polish to the fishnet tights, to the dangling earrings, I was able to express a part of myself that I don’t get to in everyday life. For me, that is empowerment. There’s no loss of masculinity in my mind. In fact, I gained a broader sense of humanity. There is no pure masculinity because masculinity is just to peacock for other men and I don’t have time for that. There is no pure femininity because I know so many women who are inspiring, dominating and resourceful bosses in their fields. I aim to always find a happy medium on the spectrum.
Of course, day by day the pendulum swings from one way to the other, but that’s human nature. I have every right and desire to express those feelings in healthy ways such as my outward appearance. Dress is such an incredible opportunity because it is an expression of how I’m feeling even if I’m wearing something that reads “I don’t give a fuck today.” I chose it and that directly reflects me on that day. My body is a canvas. Every day is an opportunity to start a conversation with the world. I love that. Whether I feel the desire to dress like a typical boy, a high fashion runway model or wear some glittery eyeliner with some bomb nail polish and my hoop earrings, it’s still an expression of who I am and no one can take that from me. It’s never boy or girl. It’s all just clothing.
Everyone has testosterone and estrogen. Everyone expresses aggression and sensitivity at times. Everyone has areola. And everyone loves a face that beats for the gods along with a dress that slays. I just want it to be my face and my dress that came to slay.
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