This is What Asexual Looks Like
I’m Yasmin Benoit (@theyasminbenoit), an alternative model and asexuality activist from Berkshire, England.
When I publicly came out as asexual, I received a lot of support and encouragement, but I also encountered many people who found my identity difficult to believe. Sometimes, it doesn't have anything to do with how I behave, but how I look. Apparently, I don't “look” asexual. What do asexual people look like? Considering that we barely get any representation, you'd think we wouldn’t have stereotypes, but we do. The supposed "asexual look” is not a good one.
On one side of the coin, it's thought that people come to identify as asexual because they're too unattractive to get a partner. On the other side, if you're not trying to sexually attract someone, you should try to blend into the background and dress in a way that doesn't attract attention. Who've you got to impress? We shouldn't feel the desire to dress up — to wear flattering clothes and highlight our best features — because we're not trying to entice anyone. This assumes that people dress to please others and not themselves.
When you're battling these stereotypes, being unapologetically YOU is a triumph and a statement. My modeling has always been an instrument for change. Whenever I do a photoshoot as an openly asexual person, I expand people's ideas about who we are. But when I was given the opportunity to write a piece for Qwear, I didn't just want to just use myself as an example. I wanted to shine some light on some of the other stylish aces I've found on social media.
Mara (@psychara) is an alternative model, illustrator, blogger, animator, textile artist and tattoo apprentice from the Netherlands. You’ve probably seen her before, as her hypnotic images have earned her over 200,000 followers on Instagram alone. But you might not know that Mara is probably one of the most followed openly asexual people on social media.
I've been dressing alternatively since I was eleven years old, so ten years before I came out, simply because I like the style. And I do like to dress what others can perceive as 'sexy' sometimes. Show off dat ass and I even did a latex photo shoot recently! I did go for a different approach than most latex models; my concept was 'too intimidating' to sexualize, which would probably not any different if I were not asexual.
However, that doesn't stop me from modelling swimwear or even artistic nudity (low key though). When people ask me about my asexuality, I like to explain it as 'I literally don't give a fuck.' I just go with the flow and block dem creeps online and in real life; life's too short to have others stopping you what you love doing!
Brianna is a student and aspiring brand owner hailing from Mississippi. After getting into the alternative scene at the tender age of 12, Brianna went on to become one of Instagram’s cutest melanated goths. She told Qwear that her style inspirations ranges from Siouxsie Sioux to Edgar Allen Poe, from David Bowie to early Mayhem, and Sex Pistols to Lydia Lunch.
I’ve somehow been able find inspiration in almost everything. By combing 90’s goth fashion and makeup with elements from the indie scene, I came up with my own trademark style. Fashion became the outlet I needed to express and explore my creativity.
I’ve always found comfort in long-mopey clothing and deplored revealing outfits on me, but I never considered the thought of my asexuality having an impact on how I dress until recently. Asexuality, for the most part, is lack of sexual attraction not the lack of a fun outfit. Abstaining from sex and not feeling sexual attraction doesn’t mean I should refrain from wearing a short skirt every once in a while. While I do think my asexuality has had a small impact on my style, I can’t say it’s enough to make me want to cover up my body all the time. We’re just as normal as the rest of the world.
If you’re interested in Harajuku fashion, you’ve probably stumbled across the immensely bright appeal/illustration brand, Hard Decora. Its creator is the bold Chicago-based creative Kamilah Jones, who spoke to Qwear about her unique style.
I would describe my style as western interpretation of the decora style from Harajuku Japan. Whether I'm done up in makeup or dressed down for the grocery store I'm usually colorful and have way more accessories than the average person. Through my alternative style I've met so many friends, had new experiences, and have developed a much more open mind.
Beyond Japanese alternative fashion, I'm inspired by the outfits of women pro wrestlers and 90's pop stars. If it's gaudy and bold I love it! Since I was a kid, I've wanted to cultivate an extraordinary life and my fashion is a part of building that dream. Pretty literally too since I've made an apparel and illustration business out the interest called Hard Decora.
I feel like wearing these clothes has prepared me for the pushback I get for being asexual or being open about that. Thankfully, I've married someone who loves how I dress and my asexuality.
When she isn't modelling for brands like Attitude Holland or making YouTube videos, this nineteen-year-old from the Netherlands is constantly serving (affordable) gothic looks on Instagram. Her feed is the ultimate style inspiration for anyone inclined towards a darker aesthetic.
I wear the things I think are pretty (usually a combination of cuteness and darkness), and call that my style. Some people think that because I dress 'sexy' according to them, I must be dressing for male attention, but I often don't realize that the way I dress is considered 'sexy.'
This used to scare me because of some bad experiences, and I changed my ways a bit: I'd ask friends if pictures I wanted to post could be considered too sexual, or decided to ditch the skirt and go for trousers instead. I also avoided deep cut shirts for a long time. No matter my attempts, I'd still get cat called and I'd still receive unwanted creepy messages. Now I refuse to downplay my style because of how people might act about it. There is nothing I can wear that I like while still avoiding those reactions, and I don't want to dress up into something I don't feel comfortable in or don't like for the rest of my life.
I've had some trouble regaining confidence in my body and allowing myself to be comfortable in my skin. I followed Psychara before I was aware she was asexual. Seeing she could just wear whatever she wanted in her OOTD's, showing skin or not, and still be asexual meant a lot to me. Later I came across Yasmin and was once again blown away by how confident an asexual could be in her body, and even be a lingerie model! Knowing it was possible just meant a lot to me.
I'm glad to say I've ditched the idea that clothes that are generally considered 'sexy' aren't for me. I think a lot of those clothes, including lingerie, are just super pretty! I'll now wear whatever I like, and that is not dictated by my asexuality.
Dee Moore (they/she) is a young white queer femme that grew up working-middle class in the South and is now based out of Boston, MA. Dee is an experienced facilitator, youth worker, and artist that prioritizes holding space and processes of unlearning thoughts and behaviors created by systems of oppression. They believe in the power of relationship building, story-telling, and art as ways to work towards liberation. Much of their work, both artistic and community based, centers around narratives of mental illness, grief, queerness, resiliency, and race. Dee is also an avid reader of queer YA Fiction, alien & unicorn enthusiast, and TV marathoner.
For me, being ace and fat and femme are all connected to my personal journey navigating desirability (the need to be desirable and the understandings, or lack thereof, of what makes people desirable). My freshman year at a women-centered college, I was surrounded by discussions of self love, body, and sex positivity in a way I had never been before. Inspired by those around me, I started working on building a love for my body and pride in my appearance. I embraced femme as my style and identity and found power in it.
At the same time, while doing research for a paper, I came across an article that listed "obesity" as a common source of "female sexual dysfunction." I felt a lot of shame in this and my misunderstood ace-ness; I internalized the idea that my fatness made me dysfunctional in some way. I wanted to reject the idea that as a fat person, I was not capable of being found desirable and experiencing desire. I felt like it was my responsibility to be a sexually free fat person out of spite, and often my style was centered around what made me feel most desirable. Talking about my ace-ness didn't feel as easy as talking about my fatness, and it took me years to come out as ace. Now, as a nonbinary femme, I love talking about the complexity of how we present ourselves (whether or not to be desirable), how that does not have to be mutually exclusive to our own self love, but how we should always be exploring how we feel when we move through the world. And ultimately be aiming for what makes us feel most free.
Nes — known as Neseres on Tumblr — is a 47-year-old AMAB agender person from Germany, and a perfect example of how romantic asexual people aren't doomed to be “single” forever.
Nes is married with two children, and they told Qwear that their "not ace-typical" style combines their two beliefs — that clothes have no gender, and that expressing their corporeality is part of what makes them feel human.
My asexuality was not always clear to me, confusing romantic, sensual, sexual, and aesthetic attractions quite often. Thus, learning about the split attraction model helped me much to get things straight in my head. And my wife’s head as well: It was an eye-opener for us when we, after ten years of marriage, discovered that both of us were plain wrong in just assuming sexuality was important for the respective other. We are a happy asexual couple today, not missing sex ever since.
I regard my style as a little advocacy for a merely aesthetic (i.e., not sexualized) perception of legwear and body-conscious fashion in general.
What’s more, I’ve been lacking a sense of gender throughout my life, but only recently found out that there are words to describe my identity: Nonbinary or, more specifically, agender. I wish there had been today’s nonbinary awareness at the time of my youth. Gladly, with the possibilities of the internet, I got to know people who I can relate to and who are supportive. Regrettably, middle-aged enbies aren’t ubiquitous in my small town offline life.
Lyss is a model, actress, and composer from the USA. Despite her diverse range of styles, she told Qwear that she's a sundress type of girl.
If I could wear a sundress every day for the rest of my life, I would. I love being comfortable and the feeling of freedom the article of clothing gives me. As a performer, it’s a versatile style that can get me from shoot to shoot.
The sundress is empowering to me. I can show skin without “asking for it”. I can have a shorter hemline without wanting to take anyone home. I aim to relay the message that asexuality doesn’t always mean covered up. We have control over what we wear, not the public.
If you are ace-spectrum want to share your looks with the world, tag #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike and #Qwear on instagram :)