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World

6.30.2017

Gender Diaries: Ms. White [NSFW]

As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, Milk.xyz will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature NYC-based jazz pop artist Ms. White

I was born a Mugler girl—not Formichetti or Koma’s re-branded MUGLER, but the original: Thierry Mugler. Nothing quite compares to the designer’s focus on the female form; he accentuated waists, squared shoulders, and lengthened legs via meticulous, almost perfect design. His razor-sharp silhouettes showcased an exaggerated femininity that bordered on caricature, but never was. The women lucky enough to model his designs looked powerful and almost paradoxically masculine, but this masculinity was a deliberate choice—men also walked his runways donned in dresses and heels. I’m jealous of the girls (and guys) who wore Mugler back in the day; the closest I’ve come to the couturier is trying on a two-tone coat at Screaming Mimi’s on 14th Street—how bittersweet that it fit me like a glove.

I took an early interest in femininity via experimenting with my mother’s pearls and nail polish before she died. My family’s comparisons between my face and my mother’s only fed the feminine flame—my mom was pretty so I must have been pretty. I thought maybe one day I too would have a government job and a suburban house, complete with a stay at home husband and two children, but that dream is long gone.

As you’ve probably guessed, there was one glaring problem: my parents named me “Matthew Thomas White,” a name that came straight from the Bible (though we never went to church), and raised me as a boy. What a funny thing for them to do when I was so obviously a girl: I knew all the words to Immaculate Conception by the age of five and I used to stretch out the legs of my pajama pants to make them look like bell-bottoms. I would see Shalom Harlow for Dior or Kate Moss by Juergen Teller and smile knowingly, only to be dressed in hand-me-down Adidas basketball shorts and nike sneakers the next morning. I can’t blame my father or late mother, but I certainly can’t blame myself. I was a boy because the doctors said I was, and so I tried my best to be a boy.

My gender identity is inextricably linked to fashion because I’m making up for 23 years of pretending. As I dig myself out of the horror of being stuffed into masculinity, I’m also digging through my favorite images to guide me. Though Thierry Mugler is now simply MUGLER and fashion has moved towards oversized, edgier silhouettes, I’m slowly finding myself beautiful despite lost time. Maybe I’m stuck somewhere decades behind 2017, but at least I smile when I look in the mirror.

Images courtesy of Lucia Yao Gioiello

Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.

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