April 15, 2021

Gender representation through photography

The way that ones gender is represented has been a topic of discussion for some years with some individuals and groups finding the way one may dress very controversial. Looking back in history at photographs taken back in the 1900s and earlier were all very directed towards representing femininity and masculinity. Female glamour models were never seen in anything other than a figure hugging silk dress along with extravagant jewellery whereas men on the other hand would be seen to wear suits with their hair slicked back or flexing their muscles. The general public wanted to look like these glamour models in the newspapers and magazines and these fashion traits became a staple in gender representation.

Somewhere down the line, people started to rebel against these standards pushing the boundaries of what was and wasn't acceptable for example, in 1919 writer and activist Luisa Caprtillo from Puerto Rico argued publicly that women and men should be equal and eventually got arrested for wearing a mens suit in public. Although the judge ended up dropping the charges and setting her free, there were still people who believed that what she had dome was a crime.


Gender representation in a modern society is a completely different topic as we live in a much more accepting society with the freedom to wear pretty much whatever we want to. One photographer who represents this through her images is Lissa Rivera who photographs her non binary partner as her main focus in her work explaining them to be her 'Muse'. "Beautiful Boy" is a three part series exploring her partners feminine desires and the way they choose to represent themselves.

The way that we decide to represent ourselves has been particularly controversial in recent history with many A list celebrities choosing to make a stand against stereotypical gendered clothing attire branching and wearing what would be traditionally be labelled masculine or feminine. Artists such as Billie Eilish prefers to wear what would be considered to be mens attire and lots of baggy clothing as a method of concealing her body. Being thrown into the industry at just 15 years old, Eilish chooses to wear baggy clothes to avoid sexualisation and exploitation of her body which has become quite the trend between the younger generation which just proves how much photography and the way that we dress can influence a nation.


Although most people are very accepting of the way that people choose to dress and represent themselves, there will always be someone who's beliefs differ. A recent topic of discussion was a campaign set up by model Candice Owens against men dressing feminine called "bring back manly men" which spurred earlier in the year after singer Harry Styles appeared on the cover of American Vogue wearing a dress.

Although some agreed with Owens, the majority fired back with multiple reasons why dressing the way that we want is okay, claiming that she was simply "jealous" that he wore it better than her! Styles on the other hand continues to dress the way that he wants and inspires thousands with his unique dress sense everyday giving men the confidence to wear skirts and dresses as they with. His response to Owens campaign against him was simply to mock her comments of a later photoshoot by captioning the image "bring back manly men".