November 13, 2013

TV for Thought: America’s Next Top Androgynous Model

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America’s Next Top Model has graced television screens for 20 cycles. It has gone through a lot of transformations, the most hard hitting of which being the loss of that hunk, Nigel Barker, two seasons ago. But I digress. So why am I writing about what is arguably white noise reality TV? Well, aside from trying to be relevant and fresh again by adding male models to the mix of contestants this season, one of the show’s contestants is breaking important boundaries in life and in the business with his androgyny.

From the beginning, Cory Hindorff has been one of my favorites. He is FIERCE (insert snaps in an “S” formation here as well) and truly the most grounded contestant. He is above the petty bullshit and remains focused on his goals. Oh, and he’s undeniably beautiful. His bone structure is on point as long as he works his angles correctly, and his eyes … well I get lost in them at times. But I digress. Back to my point about breaking ground.

Cory is one of the only contestants this season who is gay, which plays into seasons before where there is always one girl who is part of the LBT community. Luckily, we’ve moved on from the whole coming out portion of events with him, but he is still continually cast aside as real competition because he plays up his androgyny. Week after week he hears from the photographers or judge, Rob Evans, that he is not being masculine enough and that his poses are too feminine. And week after week, Cory holds his tongue, until recently where he voices his dream of showing others that androgyny should be praised in the modeling industry. And that is when I fell in love with Mr. “I just sit back, I clutch my pearls, pop my popcorn and I love it” (this gem came from watching others in the house bicker over the states of their bodies).

There are already plenty of models, male and female alike, who are androgynous and do very well. The focus on trying to make Cory “more masculine” is quite unnecessary, Mr. Evans. Models are meant to sell fashion in their own unique ways. If you continually want jobs, you have to stick out, and there are a lot of niche markets to be filled. Let Cory fill the androgynous market. It is where he is most comfortable and where a lot of people reside. I, for one, consider myself an androgynous female and am more likely to pay attention to models who also toe the line of conventional gender stereotypes. Agyness Deyn? Homegirl is my fashion spirit animal and she does very well in the modeling world. Why can’t Cory join this group as well?

The only answer I can come up with is the double standard with which we tend to operate. We all can identify the usual gendered assignments of damsels-in-distress and the strong and burly hero who saves the day. Yet, as feminism has taught us, women can be strong as well and don’t need to be saved. Men, however, are not generally allowed to show weakness in our eyes; they aren’t supposed to have feelings or insecurities. They may only act one certain way or their manhood is called into question. But why is that? If women are allowed to show the spectrum, why can’t the same be afforded to men? I believe Cory is not only fighting to showcase androgyny, but also fighting for the men who have a broader sense of what it is to be a man and come out on top. You go, Cory. I can’t wait to tune in and see you prove that hater, Rob Evans, wrong. Also: PHILLY REPRESENT!