Androgyny refers to gender ambiguity, a quality seen in people who present themselves as having both masculine and feminine characteristics. Think David Bowie or Prince. And like David Bowie and Prince, androgynous people tend to sexually arouse members of both sexes as much as they confuse them. Androgynous individuals have a chameleon-like quality to them in that they can easily blend into any gender and can not only appear believable as both a man and a woman but also come off as sexually appealing to both genders. In many ways, that’s a commendable skill that not a lot of us can profess to have. Not everybody can appear convincing as both a woman and a man, and if they can, very few people can attest to looking equally hot as both men and women. However, the women on this list can.
As if adhering to the average beauty standards of the modeling industry wasn’t hard enough, the glass ceilings of the modeling world have been broken wide enough to the point that women can now professionally model for menswear. Men can also model for womenswear, but there are far more examples out there of women modeling for menswear than in the aforementioned case. There are also more examples of women who can easily pass as both genders. Here are some examples listed below.
15. Erika Linder
Erika Linder first gained mainstream attention a little over five years ago when she started seeking male-modeling roles. Becoming one of the first women to ever be cast in a male modeling role was a big risk for Linder to take, but the decision proved to be one that paid dividends for Linder. Her first modeling gig saw her cast as Leonardo DiCaprio for a Candy magazine photo shoot, and the attention she gained from that shoot helped her career take off. Before she knew it, she was modeling for Tom Ford and appearing in Katy Perry‘s music video for the song “Unconditionally.” Most recently, in 2016, she starred in the erotic romantic drama, Below Her Mouth. The film marked Linder’s acting debut, and her performance gained plenty of praise.
14. Ruby Rose
Without a doubt, Ruby Rose is the most famous and recognizable face on this list. Our readers should instantly recognize Ruby Rose after seeing her play the recurring role of Stella Carlin on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Before she ever pursued any acting work, she made a name for herself in the modeling world. Frequently given comparisons to both Angelina Jolie and Justin Bieber, Ruby Rose has defied gender norms for fashion lines that cater to both her masculine and feminine sides. She’s modeled for several fashion titles, such as Maxim and Cosmopolitan, to name a couple, and her star continues to rise. In addition to a side career as a VJ, Rose starred in Nike’s “Kiss My Airs” campaign back in March 2017.
13. Jana Knauer
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Jana Knauer has become something of an international superstar in just the past few years. She was first discovered back in 2005 and, within a year, was signed by the New York Models agency. Over the past decade, Knauer has posed for some heavy-hitting publications. Names like Elle, L’Officiel, Vogue, Mojeh Magazine, and V Magazine have all asked for Knauer’s services, and every single time, Knauer has excelled with flying colors due to her uniquely androgynous presence in front of the camera. Last we saw her, she made an appearance in the Metallica music video for their song “Halo on Fire” back in November 2016. Now that we’re well into 2017 by now, Knauer’s modeling career can only continue to skyrocket from here.
12. Ari Fitz
In many ways, Ari Fitz is like a jack of all trades. In addition to being a female model who can easily pass for both genders, Fitz also works as a filmmaker and Youtube personality. As she aspires to post a video each day, her YouTube channel has gained well over 200,000 subscribers since she launched it in 2013 (although she admits that she didn’t start posting videos actively and consistently until 2016). She also has a side Youtube project titled “Tomboyish,” which is currently cracking in at about 35,000 subscribers. Some readers may recognize and remember Fitz best as a personality from MTV’s Real World: Ex-Plosion, but Fitz is looking beyond that stage of her life in favor of making huge waves as a filmmaker and model.
11. Beck Holladay
In the last few years, Beck Holladay has managed to burst onto the modeling scene as a proud tomboy who’s managed to develop a strong social media following in a short time span. It all started when she was crossing the street to get a coffee some years back and she was approached by a photographer. Though she was hesitant at first, Holladay agreed to have a photo shoot with the man, and a few months later, she was signed. She’s since collaborated frequently with a UK-based fashion line called “Troojo.” In addition to her modeling career, Holladay has directed music videos and, in 2016, started working on her own fiction anthology. There’s no telling what Holladay has in store for the remainder of 2017. She can do anything at this point.
10. Destiny Owusu
As a woman hailing from Virginia but of Ghanaian descent, Destiny Owusu uses her multicultural background to adapt to her surroundings in more ways than one. For the past four years, Owusu has collaborated with a wide array of major brands–such as Ebony Magazine, Buzzfeed, Zen Magazine, Vogue, Huffington Post, and Fashionista–as not only a model but also a woman with an important message to spread. She uses all of these platforms to help promote her hashtag, #IsYourMelaninOnFleek. Through this hashtag, Owusu hopes to inspire women of color to love their skin and to take pride in it without ever letting anyone make them feel ashamed of it. Owusu also happens to be the face of The Lip Bar beauty brand.
9. Courtney McCullough
A true triple threat of the entertainment industry, Courtney McCullough manages to balance being a model along with being a photographer and actress. As an actress, McCullough may be most recognized for her appearance in a 2016 episode of Shameless that was directed by the show’s star, Emmy Rossum, or perhaps as the lead in the music video for Halsey’s song “Ghost.” As a photographer, her work has been published in Latent Image Zine, Soda Pop Magazine, Veer NYC, and American Art Collector magazine. As a model, McCullough has been seen everywhere from the likes of Buzzfeed and W Magazine to places you would least expect like McDonald’s. This Chinese-Mexican model is breaking the mold and excelling at whatever she attempts to achieve.
8. Agyness Deyn
Unlike most of the models on the list who casually slip into the clothes of both genders for their career, Agyness Deyn has always stuck strictly to the female modeling world. However, Deyn has often been considered to have masculine qualities thanks mostly to her short hair. Even as a child, she was mistaken for a boy for having short hair (sometimes buzzed down) ever since she was 13 years old. Still, as an adolescent at age 17, she was “spotted” by fashion designer Henry Holland, who signed Deyn to SELECT model management. From there, her career took off, and she started working with the likes of Dior, Chanel, and Vogue. After briefly retiring in 2009 to pursue acting (most recently starring in Sunset Song), she returned to modeling in 2011 only to retire again in 2012 to focus solely on acting.
7. Alex Crush
Alex Crush surprised many in 2014 when she signed with Major Model Management as a male model despite being a woman her entire life. Despite the risks that taking such a big leap in the fashion industry can entail, Crush has become incredibly successful just by modeling strictly for menswear. She really broke onto the scene in 2014 when Crush, for lack of a better word, crushed the runway for Hood By Air during New York Fashion Week. She single-handedly stole the show and has since moved onto bigger and better things. For example, Crush has modeled for Nylon, Office Magazine, Bon Magazine, and this year for W Magazine. It’s no wonder why both men and women seem to have such a big crush on Alex Crush.
6. Milou Van Groesen
Milou van Groesen broke into the industry straight from the Netherlands back in 2008 when she found herself signed with Women Management all the way out in Paris before signing with Next Models, then Supreme Management. Shortly after, she appeared in an editorial for Marie Claire Italy, and then, a year later, she was on the cover of D Italy. It was also around this time when she signed with Next Models, which allowed van Groesen the opportunity to model in fall ad campaigns for Diesel and H&M. When she finally left Supreme, she signed with DNA Models, and it opened up even more opportunities for van Groesen. She’s since posed and walked for Vogue, Balenciaga, Giorgio Armani, and Louis Vuitton, among other major labels.
5. Rain Dove
After spending time as a firefighter, she became a model after losing a bet on a football game. Originally, she was of the opinion that “[m]odels are pretentious people who don’t eat” and believed that she was “not pretty enough” to be a model. Then, after getting booked for an all-male casting call, she won the part and quickly felt right at home in the modeling world. As a self-professed “gender capitalist,” Rain Dove thrives off of letting her gender appear as ambiguous as possible. She owns up to her femininity as much as her masculine features, especially since it allows her the opportunity to take up any bathroom with the shortest line. While she models for both menswear and womenswear, she admits she feels most powerful in a dress.
4. Elliott Sailors
When she first entered the modeling world, Elliott Sailors was your average female model who modeled for lingerie. With long flowing blonde hair that hung down to her shoulders, the former beauty pageant contestant was actually doing well for herself as the typical lingerie model ever since 2001. Then, 2012 came around, and she decided to cut it all off. When she looked in the mirror, she realized she looked like a man and took the opportunity to enter menswear modeling. Considering how easily she could pass as a man, she reinvented herself as both a female and male model to affluent results. The drastic change also helped Sailors realize that she was a lesbian, and she decided to divorce her husband in 2015 after five years of marriage.
3. Casey Legler
Ever since the age of 13, Casey Legler led a career as a professional swimmer, and by age 19, she competed in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Making the transition from being an athlete to a model is no easy task, and even harder is being a female working as a male model. Somehow, as a woman who only models for menswear, Legler has managed to make it work. It all started when she finished medical school and moved to New York to focus more on her musical and artistic side. A friend who admired her work showed her photographs to the prolific photographer, Cass Bird, and Bird decided to sign Legler on to Ford Model as a male model. Now, Legler hopes to inspire young members of the gay community to embrace who they are.
2. Harmony Boucher
In addition to being a model, Harmony Boucher also happens to be a musician. In fact, music was actually her first love as she started making music long before she even considered to walk the runway. Currently a member of Vuvuvultures, she’s been in bands ever since the age of 9 years old, but back when she was working on a solo album, a company called New Look reached out to her to use their song and use her as a model for a project of theirs. Boucher’s music manager pulled some strings with an agent from Model Ones who wanted to sign her, and the rest, as they say, is history. Boucher makes sure that modeling comes second to her music, but that doesn’t mean that Boucher hasn’t managed to take the fashion industry by storm regardless.
1. Lee Bullitt
As a model and photographer, Lee Bullitt primarily focuses on gender and sexuality in her work. She, herself, claims that her goal, both in front and behind the camera, is not only to argue against using art and gender as means to restrain individuals but also to prove that both art and gender can be used as a space where the two go hand in hand as “unrestricted truths as means to freedom of expression.” Her goal-oriented journey has seen Bullitt collaborate with the gender-neutral clothing brand VEER NYC. She was a model subject in photographer Jessica Yatrofsky’s compilation book, I Heart Girl, and most recently had her exhibit “Set on Freedom” featured in New York’s Queens Museum.
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