It’s the dawn of the gender-free fragrance revolution

(Gender-free fragrances by Beau Kwon, Hawthorne, and PHLUR, clockwise from top left/Very Good Light )

It feels like we’re waist-deep in the gender revolution in 2018.

RuPaul’s Drag Race, arguably one of the most visible shows for gender as performance art, just got nominated for 12 Emmys. Spanish menswear designer Palomo Spain continues expanding on their feminine-leaning, fantastical narrative to the (truthfully antiquated) story of men’s fashion; while Syro, a NYC-based QPOC shoe brand, is making “high heels accessible for all” with styles going up to men’s size 14. Gender-free retailers like Phluid in New York and  VERV London dress the sexually fluid demographic. And let’s not forget Boy beauty, which has opened up a whole new world to makeup-obsessed guys everywhere.

You get the point. The genderless future has finally arrived and it smells like…wait, what’s the smell?

While we’ve identified what genderless fashion or beauty could look like, we still have yet to define its fragrance. Is it light and citrusy? Musk and wood? Does it have floral notes or all of the above?

SEE ALSO: WTF is the difference between perfumes, colognes, body sprays and eau de toilettes?

Led by niche brands like PHLUR, Hawthorne, and Beau Kwon, we’re starting to see the slow fall of the Gender Binary Wall in the fragrance world. Rather than creating fragrances based on gender, brands are now creating unisex or gender-free versions that speak to a growing demographic that cares less about gender and more about individual preference.

In its origin, fragrances had no gender specifications (much like makeup, clothes, and heels). Back in the days of Ancient Egypt, people would use perfumes to connect with the Gods. The Greeks recommended scented remedies using sage and cumin in the form of baths, smoke, and oils.

The genderless future has finally arrived and it smells like…wait, what’s the smell?

Gender didn’t play a role in fragrance until post-WWII, Mad Men era advertising. If you went back to the days of Belle Epoque France, just as many men were wearing florals as women. Why? By definition scent doesn’t have a gender,” Eric Korman, co-founder of PHLUR tells Very Good Light. Like most things that fall prey to capitalism, gender became ubiquitous in the industry as a means to sell more product. When perfumer Pierre Bourdon elevated the smell of detergents and cleaning products with Cool Water, this new freshness category was cemented as the de facto modern man’s scent. While on the other side, the discovery of using aldehydes in perfumes via Chanel No5 started a trend of women smelling like some iteration of a powdery and citrusy flower.

Essentially, someone just decided that certain scents and notes would be for women, and others for men. Someone just chose.

“We really try to paint storylines for people to connect to, and sometimes it may lean one way or another, but it’s not intentional by gender” 

Then just as such, we can choose to remove gender. We can choose to return to the days of late 19th century France where anyone could wear anything. It really just comes down to what resonates.

This connection is what PHLUR taps into when creating their fragrances.

“We really try to paint storylines for people to connect to, and sometimes it may lean one way or another, but it’s not intentional by gender,” Eric tells Very Good Light. When briefing perfumers on new fragrances, he “always starts with an idea or moment in time”. From there, he dials-up the #inspo with visual storyboards, keywords, and even a curated playlist. All these things are genderless, so the end product is, too.

“Only 39% of Gen Z buys fragrances geared towards their own gender, rather than non-gendered fragrances. Compare that to 49% of Millennials who say the same.”

Ultimately, I wanted clean fragrances that are about how they make you feel, not how someone else is telling you how you should feel,” he tells us over the phone. 

Fragrances are such an intimate product. From the moment the cool alcohol hits your skin to smelling another person’s smell when going in for a hug, there’s nothing more powerful. But that power goes to someone else. The #1 question someone asks, right after taking a whiff, is: What are you wearing? And from there, the conversation tips into brand-land, where the gravitas of the name impacts their reaction. Being preferential towards a brand isn’t a bad thing, but the complexities of a fragrance reveal so much more about the wearer’s interests, habits, and personality. 

“We hope to change the conversation. Instead of answering with what brand you’re wearing, we want guys to start talking about how their preferences led to the fragrance they’re wearing,” Brian Jeong, co-founder, tells Very Good Light. After noticing that most of their male friends were wearing Armani’s Aqua di Gio or AXE’s body spray Brian and his partner Phillip saw the need for more education.

Where they become teachers for guys with little to no fragrance knowledge is through their online quiz. When users get onto their site, they’re greeting by an online fragrance counter rep that gets to know each person intimately. Using Q&As on fragrance knowledge, diet, and even workplace attire, it creates two unique scents per person. Work is meant for well, work, and Play, for the after 5pm version of you. By associating personal preference with scents in a custom-made cologne, dissociating gender seems almost natural.

For women, who are generally more sexually liberated than men, though, this isn’t something new. Most of my girlfriends have taken at least one thing from their boyfriends. Bible. But for men it’s not so easy.

“They’ve done blind studies with men smelling different scents. After being told what those were, they say ‘No that’s for my wife’ or ‘for a woman’, even though just moments ago, they said they would wear it,” Eric says.

“The line is dedicated to florals and I wanted the brand to transcend gender stereotypes, especially since florals are marketed as female scents”

Although many men have braved their way into wearing floral button-ups, wearing florals as a fragrance is still challenging. The reputation of these notes for being feminine creates a glass wall that guys refuse to break through.

(Gender-free fragrances from Hawthorne, PHLUR, Beau Kwon/Very Good Light )

The line is dedicated to florals and I wanted the brand to transcend gender stereotypes, especially since florals are marketed as female scents,” Daehyun, founder of Beau Kwon tells Very Good Light. He asks each perfumer “to make the florals pretty masculine”. But this isn’t to mask florals in any way. From the fragrances themselves to the sharp-edge black-top bottles, to the mostly-black website, he dips heavy on the masculinity.

“The line is masculine, but I’m marketing it as unisex because I feel like women in general are not as sensitive about what they wear, in terms of perfumes, compared to guys,” he tells us.

Shade. But regardless of any hangups, the gender binary is slowly losing its grip. According to trend forecasting agency, J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, only 39% of Gen Z buys fragrances geared towards their own gender, rather than non-gendered fragrances. Compare that to 49% of Millennials who say the same.

“Gender is linked to biology, but less and less to products. With bathrooms, dress codes, makeup and cosmetics being embraced by guys more and more, who cares. Just live the life you like,” says Christophe Laudamiel, master perfumer for fragrances like Polo Blue for men by Ralph Lauren, and my teen fave, Fierce by Abercrombie & Fitch.

“I try to create a reality one wants to have, even if it is futuristic,” he says.

So what can we conclude about what the genderless revolution smells like? It’s a mix between florals, sweet top notes, musky bottom notes, and anything in between. Basically, the genderless revolution is all about mixing and matching to your personality, no matter your gender identity. And that smells pretty sweet. 

Meet the faces behind New York’s first genderless store

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

Is the world ready for a genderless present?

That’s what Rob Smith, founder and CEO of The Phluid Project, a genderless retail store in NYC, is banking on. The 53-year old fashion executive behind brands like Patricia Field’s, American Apparel, Victoria’s Secret, among others, decided to leave his successful career behind to live his “authentic truth.”

“I quit my job about a year ago and started to learn embark on a journey of self-discovery,” he tells Very Good Light. “I went around the world to Central and South America, to India, Nepal, learning about Islam, Sikhism, drinking ayahuasca, trying to find my authentic self. That’s when I had a vision of creating a space where gender didn’t matter.”

(Rob Smith, pictured here inside his gender-free store, The Phluid Project, hopes that we’re entering into a non-binary future. Photo by Ian Michael Crumm/Very Good Light)

The result is a retail store in NYC’s NoHo, that sells all products that are, what Rob says, “gender-free.”

“It’s not genderless or gender neutral, it’s gender-free,” he clarifies. “In the fluid space, it can change all the time. We encourage people to try things and to explore.”

Half of the store’s offerings are from The Phluid Project’s own in-house brand. These include apparel items that range from hoodies, caps, tank tops, t-shirts, joggers, and more. Additional offerings include brands ranging from Doc Martens, Le Spec, Gypsy Sport, Champion, among others. When it comes to beauty, the store offers Make Beauty, Fluide, a new genderless makeup brand, candles by Boy Smells, among others.

But more than a shopping experience, Rob wants the space to be one that’s a place to create change. On Tuesdays, there are special talks. Weekends are for workshops. There’s even the basement, called The Lower Phloor that can be rented out on an hourly basis for people to come together and “share ideas to change the world,” he says.

Rob is trekking forward on his business and forging his own path. While there have been retail concept spaces at places like London’s Selfridges that explored the genderless consumer, none have launched something specifically gender neutral. Which is interesting, given that Gen-Z shops according to styles, not the specific gender of a given apparel or beauty item.

“Retailers will need to change with the consumer, as they have already done outside of fashion,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD, to Business of Fashion. “Kids and young adults today shop together no matter the gender. This clearly plays into fashion.”

Whether or not The Phluid Project succeeds is TBD. But what’s interesting is how gender, its influence and definition, is finally bubbling to the surface of our conversations.

Below, we asked a couple of The Phluid Project’s new employees what gender means to them and why it’s important.

Jillian Brooks, content director

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

“To me, gender is something I never considered. What was important is that I wanted to be myself. To me, gender is limitless. It can be anything. When I was younger, I was confounded by it. I didn’t understand why I had to shop in a certain section. As a queer person growing up, it was an obvious part of my existence. I wore a tux to my first bat mitzvah and knew who I was when I was younger. I hope that people can be comfortable to be who they are and not have to choose who to be.”

Lamm Johnson, 25, Asst store manager @lmmtte

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

“Gender is about expressionism. It’s not dead. In my world I don’t address people by their genders. It’s about being open-minded and non-judgmental. Always being respectful of other people. Once you start respecting people for who they are is when the world starts to change.”

Gabe Dorta 21, sales associate @dooshfag

“You cannot separate gender from race class and everything else. Considering all aspects of a person’s identity is important.”

Tajee Harris, 20, sales associate, @t4j3e

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

“Gender means whatever you want it to be. There’s no rules or rituals. It’s neutral. It’s fluid. It’s just being who you are. It’s not letting someone decide.”

Frankie Martinez, 25, visual manager, @xo_franxx

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

“Gender to me is nonexistent; it’s interchangeable with identity. It’s about exactly who you are.”

Why is everyone suddenly talking about gender?

Blur the Lines: Generation Gender

In partnership

Rayne is neither he nor she, but both he and she.

And everything in between.

When we met in January for a photoshoot for Milk Makeup’s Blur Stick, Rayne wore a fitted pastel pink tank, juxtaposed with black, ‘90s-style raver-like grommeted pants. Rayne towers over at 6-feet, with broad shoulders built over many years dedicated to dancing, but the 18-year-old’s voice comes out in barely a whisper. With long, wispy brown hair, a dewy, milky complexion and soft, almond eyes, not to mention poreless skin, the teen is gentle, meek. But in photos, Rayne is anything but. It’s evident that when in front of the camera, the Canadian’s entire aura becomes larger than life, outer-worldly, a perfect, beautiful storm.

“Some days I’ll go by my masculine energy, others are more soft and feminine.”

When it rains, it pours.

Today, Rayne is proud to consider Rayne’s own identity as being completely rinsed of a gender identity based on a rigid binary. Rayne is fluid. “I go by energies,” Rayne says. “It’s really about what I’m feeling that day. Some days I’ll go by my masculine energy, others are more soft and feminine.” It’s that same energy that attracts Rayne to others. And it doesn’t matter what gender they are: “I’m into both boys and girls and can fall in love with both.”

Of course, you don’t become your authentic self overnight. It certainly doesn’t come without growing pains. Living in a small, suburban town outside of Toronto, Rayne found that fitting in wasn’t so easy.

“I had thoughts of conforming and being like everyone else,” Rayne admits. Rayne was assigned male at birth and that would have been the path of least resistance. Sometimes, as Rayne put it, it’s easier being like everybody else. Being invisible. Fitting in. Not having a target on your back.

But as time passed, Rayne felt that being boxed into the gender binary just didn’t feel right.

Rayne is one of the millions of Generation Z teens who are adopting these “new ideas” of identity while rejecting the traditional notions that a strict gender binary exists. Of course, as we know, these sentiments aren’t new at all. They’ve been a part of our culture as human beings for centuries. It’s just that now there are words to correctly verbalize one’s identity more precisely. 

“We are in a gender evolution, not a revolution.”

It’s one of the reasons why gender, as of late, has been at the tip of everyone’s tongue. One need only look at headlines to find that it’s hit fever pitch on the cultural barometer.

Teens These Days Are Queer AF, New Study Says,” a headline from Broadly reads.

Gen Z Sees Gender Differently,” another wrote.

Gen Z Rejects Gender Binary.”

At Harvard University, and on college campuses around the country, the term “ze” has become an additional pronoun for individuals who don’t fit the gender binary.  

Social media has been trailblazing this notion for years. It was Facebook, in fact, that began offering more than 50 terms for one’s gender identity in 2014.

“We are in a gender evolution, not a revolution,” explains Dr. SJ Miller, the deputy director of educational equity supports and services at NYU, to Very Good Light. “Young people are now coming into the world now with a full understanding of gender binaries. It’s a reason why we’re seeing more people finding that they’re genderless. People are finally starting to understand that this could be their true identities.”

Joel Baum, senior director for professional development at Gender Spectrum, says gender has bubbled up into the zeitgeist not because of young people, but because of older generations who “just don’t understand.”

“Notions of non-binary identity are part of the discourse for Generation Z,” he tells Very Good Light. “There’s a much greater comfort level with those with different gender and sexualities who aren’t in the typical boxes. To them, it’s like breathing air. It’s normal. Today, it’s not hard to talk about gender diversity and non-binary language. Most in this generation already understand it. It’s older generations, even millennials, who don’t get it. That’s our problem, not theirs.”

Being outside the gender binary may be a new concept here in the States, but in places throughout the world such as Samoa, Mexico, India, among others, a third gender has been embedded within their respective cultures from what seems like the beginning of time.

“These third gender males are treated like normal citizens,” says Paul Vasey, professor and board of governors research chair in psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. Vasey has been studying third gendered people for years, like the fa’afafine in Samoa and the muxe in Oaxaca Mexico.

“In the market you’ll see men, women and muxe,” Vasey says to Very Good Light. “No one’s paying special attention to them and they’re treated as regular people that one would encounter anywhere in these communities. It’s how society was able to deal with these individuals who didn’t quite fit into one gender or another.”

Choosing to be agender or genderless is a true identity.

As Vasey explains it, many of these individuals in the Western culture would be considered gay, cis-gender men or transgender women. It’s just a matter of perception and how different societies box in those who aren’t part of a majority population. But whatever the sexuality, we need to understand that that’s different from gender identity.

“We need to know that sex is biological,” Vasey explains. “A person’s biological status are marked by chromosomes and their genitals and can be varyingly defined. Gender, on the other hand, is a system for categorizing things based on the masculine and feminine attributes.”

But being genderless or considering oneself to be agender does not equate to rejecting gender identity altogether. Choosing to be agender or genderless is a true identity, one that Baum says is equally as valid as considering oneself male or female. Being genderless doesn’t make one invisible.

“Gender does matter,” he says. “Gender identity plays a huge factor in all of our lives. There’s a huge implication spiritually, emotionally and practically.”

With President Trump withdrawing federal protections for transgender people, it’s essential that we understand the differences between sexuality and gender, while also becoming more sensitive to our peers. After all, it was last March, when the state legislature of North Carolina issued House Bill 2 (known as HB2 or the “bathroom bill“), requiring people use public restrooms that match the sex indicated on their birth certificates. Though President Obama created a federal directive to override it, President Trump reversed that decision, putting the bill back in place, making it a local/state-level issue once again. States like Texas are now trying to follow suit with their own version, called SB6.

Needless to say, the future generation, like Rayne, counts on a world that’s more inclusive, with compassion and understanding, to ensure they have all of the equal rights they deserve. 

“Gender does matter.”

On an afternoon in January, Very Good Light and Milk Makeup brought seven young people together to ask them what gender means to them. Some say that gender doesn’t define them, while others said it’s everything to them. In this original Very Good Light and Milk Makeup project, these seven diverse individuals – some straight, some gay, some trans, some genderless – came together to talk about identity. From a video, photographs and interviews, they speak their own truths on their own gender identities. Here they are speaking in their own words on how they blur the lines.

In their own words …

Eric Stone Carson, 18

(Eric is using: Milk Makeup’s Hero Salve, concealer in tan, Blur stick on lips and face, lip + cheek in Rally on lips, Oil Lip Stain in Feelz; He is wearing an Urban Sophistication hoodie)

Being different in black culture isn’t a good thing. Growing up in Atlanta with three sisters, my family automatically thought I’d be gay. They didn’t want me to be. I’m a straight male but deep down inside I’ve always been like, anyone can be whoever they want to be.

But growing up in a black community meant you had to act a certain way. I tried to fit that norm. I was an athlete, I played basketball. All those kinds of stuff.  I tried hard to fit in. I dressed in preppy outfits, in polos, like everyone else at my suburban Atlanta high school. I thought that that’s what I was supposed to look like though inside that wasn’t how I wanted to dress. Deep down, I was scared with how people would look at me if I cared about fashion.

And maybe that is why I try to shy away from sports now that I’m in New York, because I felt like everybody was just so super hypermasculine and close-minded.

When it comes to my own identity, I’d say I’m a boy transitioning into a man. I feel that whatever it is, whatever your own identity, it’s just self expression. Coming to New York as a model opened up my eyes to how diverse the world is. It’s about not only accepting someone but embracing those who are different from you.

In New York City I’m now seeing a lot of people wearing clothes that I wanted to wear and they’re doing so bravely. There are guys who wear makeup. It shouldn’t matter what they wear on their bodies or their faces. People will always have their own opinions. If they’re judging someone else that’s because they’re going through some things. That’s on them. I want to continue being a straight ally to everyone else and hope that culture will continue to change.

Dagsen Steele Love, 16

(Dagsen is using: Concealer in Fair, Blue Oil in Ripe, Holographic stick in Supernova, Eye Pigment in After party, Lip + cheek in Rally, Blur stick; He is wearing a Colin LoCascio top)

Gender and sexuality are on a spectrum. They’re also useless.

I’d say that most of society wants to solve who you are and put you in a box. It all doesn’t matter. It doesn’t exist. They’re social constructs. You can be who you want to be. Like for me, I wear women’s clothes because they fit better. I think you can be a man, if you feel like a man. If you’re a man and you want to wear dresses, then that’s cool. Why can’t you be yourself?

When I was younger, I thought I was bisexual. Then, I realized that sexuality doesn’t really matter, either. I am more attracted to women, but i wouldn’t have any problem being attracted to a man if I really liked him.

Who I am made me stick out from the rest of my classmates in Phoenix, Arizona.

I was really insecure around the time when I was 14 and 15. I hated school. I had a lot of social anxieties and stuff. And I started being way more outgoing and talking to people and just made me realize that no one has to get you. Everyone who you think is judging you is dealing with their own issues. Or if they do judge you then they just hate themselves. Most people are like that. I enrolled in online classes because I couldn’t take school any more. Doing the homework and academics just wasn’t for me. I just didn’t care. I don’t think I’m a rebel, I’m just doing me.

Madeleine Vintback, 26

(Madeleine is using: Concealer in Medium, Blur stick, Hero Salve, Shadow Quad Day Goals, Eye Vinyl in Bridge, Lip color in Wifey, Eye Pigment in Hotel Lobby; She is wearing a jacket by BDG from Urban Outfitters and choker by Martine Ali Studio)

I’ve always loved to play around with my hair, makeup and clothes. It’s almost like a dress up game. I actually love to play the role of being super boyish or super feminine. Though that’s how I express myself, it’s not like everyone else gets it. There are people around me who get frustrated because they can’t place me.

I consider myself a woman, but one who can be masculine or feminine. Though, in my experience, if you are not feminine enough, that’s a threat too.  

As a model in Los Angeles I’m going against girls with the long, beautiful curls and waves. My hair is in a pixie cut. People scratch their heads because it’s not something that they’re used to, a woman who looks like a boy.

It’s interesting because in Sweden, where I’m from, it’s so much more progressive. There, lines are very, very blurred. First of all, men and women are very, very equal. The guys are the ones with the strollers now. The gender roles have changed. It’s interesting because when my Swedish guy friends come over to the states, they’re mistaken as gay. It’s because they’re so free and don’t have to discuss those things because it’s not an issue. They know they don’t have to be so hard or macho to be a man.

American guys like straight guys here are so scared of being or acting gay because of American culture. To Swedish people it’s more open, it’s free. People don’t care so much about gender or who you’re dating. We’re fluid.

Marcelo Gutierrez, 22

(Marcelo is using: Sunshine Skin Tint, Shadow Quad Day Goals, Blur Stick, Lip + Cheek in Quickie, Matte Bronzer, Gel Brow, Shadow Liner in Moonlighter and Working Girl and Hero Salve; He is wearing a top by Slashed by Tia, choker by The IME label; hoodie by Urban Sophistication)

I’m a minority in a multitude of ways. I’m a refugee, an immigrant and gay. When I was younger, I didn’t consider gender. I didn’t know how different I was. I always played around as female characters but knew that I was genetically a boy.

Today, I identify as male but I am very in tune with what we call masculine and feminine attributes. But really, it makes me uncomfortable to even have to say “masculine” and “feminine.” What exactly do those words even mean?

To me, feminine characteristics are attributed to romance, vulnerability and emotion. I am someone who is very romantic. I write a lot. I am very emotional person and those are considered negative attributes in our society. For some reason, that goes back to sexism. In gay culture, it’s so “masc4masc.” When you’re any kind of  “feminine,” then that can be seen as a flaw. In its essence, that goes down to why something that is considered feminine is a flaw or unattractive.

Being emotional shouldn’t be considered feminine. That should just be considered human. When we distinguish characteristics of masculinity and femininity, that means that there is a priority of one or the other. It goes back to the fact that there’s only one race – the human race. There is no masculine, there is no feminine. There is only human. That’s means being layered, complex, individual. It’s made up of so many little things in so many variables. That’s beautiful.

Avie Acosta, 21

(Avie is using: Concealer in Fair, Hero Salve, Gel Brow, Blur Stick on lips and face, Gold Liquid Strobe, Eye Pigment in Hotel Lobby, Oil Lip Stain in Tude, Lip + cheek in Rally; She is wearing a dress by Urban Outfitters, Choker by The IME label, a jacket by Martine Ali Studio)

My brand is #unoffendable.

Growing up in Oklahoma I had a hard time with the concept of gender. I always played sports. I was a skateboarder. I roughhoused with football. But I also loved to wear skirts and dresses. I played with makeup and had my nails painted at sleepovers. Coming into my own later on as a woman, was an interesting experience in Oklahoma.

In retrospect, after all these years, I was fighting for myself a little too hard. I used to be a monster. I was this tough feminist girl that was like, “you respect me, refer to my gender correctly, etc.” But it got me absolutely nowhere. It was the most draining process to try to get people to understand you. 

It consumed my life where I couldn’t talk about anything but gender and social politics. It brought so much negativity. Gender was a roadblock, a barrier, and a hurdle that I had to overcome. Everyone is trying to figure out who they are and I think that this conversation sometimes comes off as abrasive. It’s one-sided. It’s like what I was a few years ago, repeating myself over and over again.

I get it. The binary is real. Our entire world is set up with a binary. We think in binary. So it’s not just gender. Every concept that has two extremes. That’s just how the world is set up and I feel like trying to go against that hasn’t worked in our favor. With those who don’t understand, we can’t continue preaching to them and meeting deaf ears. It’s not getting anywhere because there has to be a common ground. We need to have empathy.

I’ve come to a point in my own life that whatever someone says to me I’m not going to get offended. There’s negativity but I don’t have to partake. There’s real power to that. There’s real power when you don’t let it get to you.

Eddy LeRoy Jr., 18

(Eddy is using: Concealer in Deep, Blur Stick, Eye Vinyl in Tunnel, Liquid Strobe in Ultraviolet, Hero Salve; Eddy is wearing an Urban Outfitters top and a choker by Marine Ali Studio)

If we’re going to try to define manhood in a traditional sense with sports and all that, okay, I played sports, too. I ran track and played football in high school and I was better than everyone else. Why is it that society deems a man less than if he’s different? Or if he cries?

Growing up, I was never understood by my family. They used to blame my femininity on the saying, “oh, you were raised predominantly around females, that’s why you’re like that.” And I always felt like, why can’t I be on a spectrum? I can wake up and feel whatever I want want to feel. Maybe today I feel masculine and tomorrow it’s feminine. Why does it even matter?

Even identifying as strictly male isn’t completely me, to be honest. I usually don’t even think to define myself because I’m everything in between. Which why I look up to David Bowie. He was so ambiguous  and did whatever he wanted. He wore makeup. He wore women’s clothing. He just lived. It’s mind-boggling that we still haven’t come to a point where we can accept that others, too, can be just like Bowie.

Rayne Nadurata, 18

(Rayne is using: Blur Stick, Concealer in Medium Tan, Hero Salve, Highlighter, Lip + Cheek in Swish, Lip color in Freshhh, oil lip Stain in Tude; Rain is wear a vintage necklace and top)

I’m definitely more fluid and I can embody both ends of the spectrum. I  like to dabble with both genders but I’m more comfortable in my feminine side because it’s more expressive and open. In terms of labeling, I don’t care about labels. Whatever you call me, you can call me.

For me, being fluid means that I’m also sexually fluid. I can be attracted to anyone. I don’t think in binaries or sexualities. Instead, I think in energies. There are strong energies present in everyone. Both energies, masculine and feminine are found in everyone. When I think of masculinity I think of aggression, strength and dominance. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that just because you’re submissive you’re more female. You can be a strong, dominant female. And femininity can still be strong as well. Some days I’m vibing my feminine side and in those days I’d expect to be called ‘she’ or a ‘her.’ Today, I’m just Rayne. I’m neutral in my body. I feel comfortable.

I went to the men’s washroom last night, and everyone looked at me. It’s kind of a compliment, though. Guys always think that there’s a girl in there. People think that I’m a chick with a purse because I always have a purse. There are benefits to then going into a women’s washroom because guys bathrooms are filthy. Sometimes though, there will be security guards who tell me I can’t go into the women’s washroom. They think that me being in there makes me a sexual pervert.

In a lot of ways I think it’s because masculinity has become so toxic. I want to crush it at times. It’s designed for men to be “men,” which makes them so self-conscious. I think straight cisgender guys are the most insecure people. They have to be boxed into a single definition and can’t stray from the norm or what they’re attracted to. They can’t express themselves in a different manner. That to me, is so sad. In the future, I want to be a voice for the queer community. I want to make everyone feel comfortable. I want to make a change. It’s coming soon.


Director: Georgie Greville DP: Roland Lazarte Photographer: Jai Odell (Trouble Management) Art Director: Elena Miska Makeup: Alicia Marie Campbell (See Management) Hair: Niko Weddle Stylist: Bianca Arielle Bailey Producers: Riley Carithers, Roxanne Doucet