I cannot believe Jaden Smith just broke the Internet, and if you follow his Instagram account @christiaingrey, you know just what I’m talking about.
For those of you who are not familiar with this celebrity on Insta, one of his most recent posts is something worth checking out. He uploaded a shirtless photo of him in a black skirt, wearing bright blue nail polish and a red flower in his hair. I mean, talk about kissing gender norms goodbye.
So I have to admit that previously, I had not been familiar with Smith’s Instagram account, but am surprised he is not talked about more. As I found out, this is not even close to the first time Smith has blurred the lines between masculinity and femininity. He has been wearing dresses since 2015 and, more importantly, was the star of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear campaign in January. That’s right, womenswear. He wore clothing designed for women and posed alongside other female models, resulting in a pretty powerful message.
I think that toying with the fashion world is an interesting means of tackling the battle of gender norms. Gender is a form of self-identification and, in my opinion, clothing and accessories are also profound forms of self-expression. Choosing to wear a pencil skirt, for example, can highlight a person’s preferences, intentions and identity. In an even more blatant sense, however, fashion clearly relates to gender by often labeling clothing as for men or for women. While women’s and men’s clothing lines may still be fashioned separately, the significance behind a garment’s intended gender is clearly not a strict one — as exhibited by Louis Vuitton.
Fashion’s loosening of gender differentiation is a modern concept that I think is a direct result from the increased awareness about and support for the LGBT community. This increasing awareness prompts the fashion world to look at the distinctions between what is considered girly and what is considered manly to blur. Fashion reacts to today’s society’s attempts to tackle gender norms and stereotypes, because styles change with the times. Therefore, fashion is the perfect arena for promoting gender-fluidity because it is a fluxing and flowing thing, and its trends are reflections of the eras in which they exist.
I am definitely for there being a sense of gender fluidity in fashion, but I also think it is important to maintain separate women’s and men’s clothing lines — let me explain further.
I am not preaching that all clothing should become unisex, in the sense that a person could not tell if an article of clothing is intended for a man or a woman. In fact, I think that making all clothing unisex would rob people of the opportunity of expressing themselves as feminine or masculine, and would even censor fashion designers’ creativity. I do not think the goal should be to change the look of clothing itself, but rather, as Louis Vuitton demonstrated, highlight the flexibility between gender associations in clothing. In other words, the focus must be on the people wearing the clothes, rather than the clothes themselves.
To me, that is gender fluidity. That is what messages, like Jaden Smith’s, are promoting. The gender fluidity of fashion can work to encourage people of any gender to wear clothing designated for both men and women alike, thus working to abolish gender norms and view gender in a new light.