Growing up in a middle-class family in India automatically comes with some unsaid rules and principles that either you inherit strongly or take a lot of time to unlearn. For me, that one rule that I unlearned through my journey in showbiz is that fashion and styling is just for women. From childhood, we are taught that men don’t wear make-up or don fancy outfits and that’s the belief even I grew up with, but when I entered the show business, I noticed how inaccurate it was.
Men not only wear make-up but also experiment with their outfits, and even though it was just once limited to the modelling industry, the effects of it are spreading far and wide. Today’s men don’t shy away from admitting that they want to stand out from the crowd with their fashion choices or that they do care about their skin and want to work on that. As the acceptance towards different identities is increasing in the world, it also reflects in the fashion sector as the present and future of the industry is gender-fluid fashion.
In India, the film and TV industry plays a huge influencing role in society, thus when it comes to normalising gender-fluid fashion, we really needed a representative from this industry and Ranveer Singh became that. Earlier his fashion choices were referred to as ‘absurd’ and ‘cartoonish’, but now the same choices have become ‘quirky’ and ‘flamboyant’. Even people now realise that being a man isn’t about portraying traditional masculinity, it’s about being comfortable in who you are.
Even a superstar like Aamir Khan has donned a nose ring, shattering the belief that jewellery is not something men are supposed to wear. Making a statement like this comes with its drawbacks too, but it takes courage to be the voice of change and I feel proud to be a part of a generation where I am witnessing this happening and also getting a chance to be a part of it.
Through my styling, I have always tried to blur the lines that divide fashion between genders. I have never shied away from donning any of the bright colours that are usually associated with women, nor have I stayed away from putting on pieces of jewellery if they go with my ensemble. At a recent award function, I went to the event applying black nail polish and it did catch the eye of the fashion police. My aim behind it was just to prove that a form of make-up doesn’t make me any less of a man and I was really happy with the positive response that I received for it from the media and my peers.
I have been a part of this industry for some years now and over time, I have witnessed firsthand the changing landscape and perception of people towards fashion choices and conventions. From being laughed about for experimental wardrobe choices to being applauded for making one, we as a society have grown a lot and that acceptance level reflects outside our industry as well. People are coming to realise that fashion is no longer constrained in the boundaries of gender and I am proud to be a part of this change.
The writer is an actor and former Mr India.