Outdated beauty standards have deep, dark roots. Case in point: The red carpet, where actors parade in front of cameras and are still all too often only asked about their designer clothes. Jacob Tobia, genderqueer writer and performer, addressed the challenges ahead in a Facebook post recapping an appearance at the GLAAD Awards.
As Tobia wrote in a post-event breakdown that has garnered praise across social media, “Last night was hard … it really dawned on me how much further we have to go.”
Last night was hard. It was my first bonafide red carpet in LA (at the Beverly Hilton of all places, where they host the Golden Globes) and for some reason I felt really alienated from my body. Last night it really started to dawn on me just how much further we have to go. While gender nonconforming and nonbinary people are making progress in some ways, it's generally only been people who fit a certain androgynous, hairless, youthful look. Last night on the red carpet, I felt the weight of just how radical my chest hair and armpit hair and leg hair continue to be. I felt out of place because I refuse to get rid of the hair that's on my body. I felt the weight of what it means to push back against the idea that hairlessness equals beauty. And I started to get a sense of just how hard it's going to be to make it as a hairy nonbinary femme in this industry. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with choosing to wax or shave, but last night I felt like the only girl in the world who doesn't choose to do so. I've always known that my beauty will take time for others to grasp, that my light will be too bright at first for some. But I also know that we will endure and persevere; that we will create a world together where our beauty can be celebrated, our inner light magnified ????Until then, I will strut any red carpet they put me on, my hairy chest and fluffy legs out for all to see ????????????????????
A post shared by Jacob Tobia (@jacobtobia) on Apr 2, 2017 at 10:27am PDT
The caption continued, “While gender nonconforming and nonbinary people are making progress in some ways, it’s generally only been people who fit a certain androgynous, hairless, youthful look.” Anyone who’s watched an awards show will find it hard to disagree with this.
As Tobia points out, body hair norms need to change even for their appearance on the red carpet to not be considered “radical.” “I felt out of place because I refuse to get rid of the hair that’s on my body,” the caption continued. “I felt the weight of what it means to push back against the idea that hairlessness equals beauty.”
The post has gotten plenty of love on social media from commenters thanking Tobia for being so open and honest. Tobia explains to Yahoo Beauty that sharing struggles is a coping mechanism and hopes others can relate to the difficulty. “I used to think that I needed to put up a front, that I had to pretend that navigating the entertainment industry and media world was effortless for me,” Tobia explains. “But the more that I’ve opened up about days when I haven’t felt as good, or when things have been tough, the more support and love I’ve gotten from folks. Sharing about the challenges that I face makes them feel less intense; putting things out in the world helps me to cope with them, y’know? And that in turn helps other people feel less alone in their struggles.”
As for the future, one bad night on the red carpet doesn’t mean all hope is lost for the industry. Tobia is clear that GLAAD wasn’t to blame for any feelings of uncomfortableness — instead, the problem goes back to the embedded culture in Hollywood. “I want to see a world where a broader spectrum of nonbinary and gender nonconforming people/bodies are celebrated,” says Tobia. “I want to celebrate curvy nonbinary bodies in tuxedos, I want to celebrate hairy nonbinary bodies in gowns. I want to move away from the idea that the only gender nonconforming people who deserve to be celebrated are androgynous, thin, white, and hairless. That’s what I hope to see in the industry going forward; it’s a world that I think we can build together.” And that’s the red carpet we want to walk on.
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