Taking Back the Conversation: How Would You Respond to Isaac Mizrahi?
On Monday HuffPost Live interviewed Isaac Mizrahi and gave me the opportunity to ask him one question. I told you all about it on Tuesday, but now I want to hear from you. Because that segment was about Isaac, and I know our community has more to say. In case you missed it, here's the clip again:
Basically, this was the dialogue:
Sonny: I know that androgyny is popular on the runway right now, and many of my androgynous readers have characteristics that make it difficult for them to fit into this idea of androgyny that they're seeing. I'm wondering how you on Project Runway would like to challenge the creative process and create a wider range of androgynous looks.
Isaac: . . . Gender we're learning, is as specific to person to person. It's almost impossible to generalize about gender. In which I would say that, no matter what I say about creativity and gender identification . . . it honestly shouldn't matter that much. The minute you go, oh, to be feminine you do this, to be masculine you do that, that's kind of not my or anybody's place to advise. It's just that person's place to look at their inner voice and know what's right or wrong.
On the segment I wasn't given the chance to respond. But here's how I'm responding now:
I completely agree that gender is specific from person to person, but the issue is that androgyny is being defined by the fashion industry in a very narrow way that is pushing out the majority of the queer community. As my writer Eeri pointed out, all you have to do is google "androgynous fashion" to see the same image over and over: skinny, mostly white, mostly female assigned people, in suits and oversized clothing. In a sense, these images are taking on a very literal definition of androgyny in that the viewer literally can't tell what sex the model was assigned at birth. And when you take any other person with a different body type in the same clothing, it has a very different affect.
The result is the very dangerous misconception that people can't truly be themselves unless they change their bodies to fit this mold. Androgyny is so much more than appearing void of all secondary sex characteristics. How would you, as a leader in the fashion industry, like to address this issue in fashion? How can we create more clothing for a wider range of looks that also display androgyny, and satisfy more people's inner gender? How can we create a world in which androgynous people with curves or facial hair also have a space in fashion?
Ok readers, now it's your turn. How would you respond to Isaac? Tell us in the comments, and let's get a conversation going. Do you identify as androgynous but don't look like the people in the photo above? Tweet @qwearfashion @IsaacMizrahi a picture of yourself with the hashtag, #itooamadnrogynous.
Special thanks to Ru for Ru's never-ending brilliance, knowledge in queer theory, and inspiration around this topic.