How 6 Gender-Nonconforming People Navigate the Very Gendered World of Beauty
On the elevator, a 5-year-old in pigtails pokes her head out from behind her mom's legs. "Are you a boy or are you a girl?" she asks April Mellas, cofounder of the first genderless shopping platform RiGIT (and full disclosure, my SO). The response is simple: "What do you think I am?" The little girl shrugs, then dives her hand into her pink Disney princess backpack for a snack.
The exchange was fleeting, but for people straddling the gender divide — with one foot planted on the other side — this is not an isolated question. Society, after all, has conditioned us from a young age to believe there are only two binaries. Gender trickles into the words we use. The emojis we send. The way we are "supposed" to look. Frequently, perhaps even habitually, it also manifests in beauty — an industry that has long been used synonymously as an expression of femininity. This language is on products, in salons, and across marketing campaigns, and while brands are picking up on the importance of inclusivity, there is a lot more work to be done.
Because here is the truth: some women like the smell of woodsy colognes. Some men like to get manicures. Some people opt to skip the "men" and "women" speak altogether. It's the 21st-f*cking century — gender lines aren't so set in stone, and that's exactly how it should be. So how do gender-nonconforming people suggest we break down these outdated norms in beauty? We asked them, ahead.