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Crossdressing And Identity Essay

2326 words - 10 pages

Fashion is a form of non-verbal communication, expressing various aspects of an individual’s life and character. If it is true that ‘clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society,’ (Twain, 1927, pg6) then a woman can make herself a man through fashion. Society constructs an image of what is masculine or feminine and, although those who choose to cross genders may believe themselves to be individual and out of the mould of what is considered the norm, they are more often than not subconsciously following society’s ideal of femininity versus masculinity by using society’s definition of this as a basis for their individuality. However, society’s expectations may also ...view middle of the document...

She had her dark hair gelled back, wearing black jeans and a white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. She sported the Greaser look, a well-known male image. Gaga moulded a new identity through her monologue, stating her false name and story, revealing to everyone more information about her character. Society viewing this image of Gaga on her magazine cover would lead to the thought of Gaga sporting a masculine look through fashion, whereas her performing in this and sharing further information through speech reveals that she was playing a completely different persona. Gender is a socially constructed identity, and entertainment has glamourized what is masculine and/or feminine. Through the example of Lady Gaga at the VMAs it can be seen that, yes fashion can allow one to express part of their identity and cross-dressings is most effective in expressing ones gender, however, it does not allow enough information to reveal the whole picture.

Male to female cross-dressing is usually to enable a man to explore dresses, colours, softer fabrics which society has labelled as feminine. For most women, it is probably no surprise that there are at least some men who wish to ‘play’ with women's clothing because its range in terms of color, style and possibility goes so far beyond men's (Suthrell, 2004). In entertainment men cross-dressing was the norm, however in film it has changed from necessary (back in the theatre days) to comically in more recent films such as ‘Ms. Doubtfire’ and ‘Big Momma’s House’. The clothes are used to change their identity and play a female role; however it is obvious to the audience that this is temporary, just an act of brief disguise. The ‘Candy’ magazine featuring James Franco on the cover is similar to this in the sense that fashion has been used to make the man look almost unrecognizable. With the knowledge of the ‘Candy’ magazine being completely dedicated to celebrating cross dressing and androgyny, society still reads this image as a man dressed as a woman rather than just a woman on the front of a magazine; reinforcing that sex is biological and gender is socially constructed. What makes this cover so interesting, however, is that it is not James Franco disguised as a female, with a typical dress and long wig but it is rather him dressed as an androgynous woman. The look he has achieved is one similar to K.D Lang and Madonna in the 90s. The slicked back hair, black leather gloves and cigarette are referencing the early fashion magazines that featured androgynous dress for women. Through entertainment originally publicising these once masculine fashions to female attire, this image of Franco is read in a certain way. Cross-dressing has allowed him to dress in what society deems ‘masculine’ clothing for a woman; however, a man wearing this is considered feminine. For these reasons it can be understood that fashion is a channel used for society to construct the differences between genders and sex alters the...

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