Tag Archives: Stars

Pop Stars Didn’t Invent Gender Fluidity


In this op-ed, writer Jared Michael Lowe examines the recent phenomenon of today’s pop stars embracing gender-fluid fashion. Are we giving them too much credit for smashing gender norms?

Harry Styles in Gucci heeled boots. Jaden Smith in a Louis Vuitton womenswear skirt. Lil Uzi Vert clutching a pink Goyard bag. Zayn Malik stepping out in women’s blouses. Even Miley Cyrus who, earlier this year, opened up about her identity as non-binary, often remarks that some of her previous style choices have skewed towards masculine and super-femme.

Today’s pop stars are embracing gender fluidity, even in the face of visceral online ridicule, in a world where the topic of sexuality and non-binary acceptance bubbles.

Simultaneously, the conversation has veered into the world of fashion as more and more designers are developing genderless clothing.

Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

In recent fashion collections, various designers showcased gender-fluid garments as models of varying sexes strode down runways. Designer Thom Browne had a fleet of male models grace the catwalk in grey pleated skirts with his signature tailored suit jackets. Vivienne Westwood displayed her latest collection of frocks on male models. Most notably and by far the most polarizing, Gucci’s creative head Alessandro Michele cross-pollinated the world of fashion, mixing his unique sense of thematic historical elements with today’s Snapchat-crazed aesthetic, rendering brightly-hued and largely ornate floral appliqués on men’s suit jackets, unisex pussybow blouses, and sundresses. Even Jay-Z, who famously wore a white tee and baggy jeans in his “Big Pimpin’” video from the late ’90s, has since displayed a different sense of style, stepping out in Michele for Gucci’s elaborately-decorated suit jackets.

Of course, this wasn’t always the case in the fashion industry. “In the beginning of my career, my agents wanted me to wear a white t-shirt and jeans and to show off my broad shoulders to appear masculine to casting directors,” says model and actor Shaun D Ross. Ross, who famously kissed Katy Perry in her music video for “E.T.”, has appeared in music videos for artists like Beyoncé and Lana Del Rey, and modeled for Alexander McQueen and Givenchy. “My agents would tell me that no one wants to book a visible gay man because the male in ads should appeal to women”. That heteronormative approach to fashion is slowly disseminating, with a more inclusive, gender-fluid ideology taking its place.

Model Shaun D Ross

Designers like 69 Worldwide, Toogood London, and Telfar Clemens are on the forefront of that major zeitgeist shift. Launched in 2005, Clemens’ eponymous label, Telfar started out — and has remained — genderless. In a recent fashion presentation that showcased the brand’s gender nonconforming philosophy, Telfar hosted a dinner where models, editors and judges from the Vogue CFDA Fashion Fund, of which he is a finalist, broke bread together. “If you saw our show, gender was the last thing on your mind — it’s the last thing on ours. For us, it’s successful when you didn’t even ask if someone was a man or a woman — not when it’s some provocative statement.”

Fashion, music, and celebrity culture have long had an interconnected marriage, one that has proved incredibly lucrative for all parties involved. It stands to reason that, as the fashion industry slowly shifts the tide to be more diverse, inclusive, and gender-fluid, celebrities would proudly start wearing garments that blur gender norms. But as they merely experiment with gender-fluid fashion — without actually standing on the front-lines of the gender-fluid movement — are we giving them too much credit for sparking change?

As refreshing as it is to see pop stars Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, or Lil Uzi Vert gain notoriety for embracing gender-fluid fashion, they didn’t invent or reinvent the wheel. Gender fluidity has been around far longer than today’s current iteration of celebrities. From the days of ancient Egypt and Rome to pop music trailblazers like Patti Smith, David Bowie, and Prince, gender fluidity — when it comes to expression of personal style — is nothing new.

Furthermore, while the power of celebrity is undeniable, we should be cautious about positioning stars as the faces of gender-fluidity, simply because they’re famous. “I think that fashion is extremely political and that as a celebrity or anyone in the limelight, being hyper visible comes with great responsibility. Celebrities can help shape our understanding of identities, where’s it going and where we’ve been, to help us better understand,” says Gabrielle Royal, photographer and contributor for dapperQ, a queer style and empowerment website specifically for masculine-presenting women and transgender-identified individuals. “Yet, the way celebrities use fashion can be either helpful, or harmful, depending on their performances and the moves they make with their stylistic expressions.” Royal, who serves as Assistant Director of Employer and Alumni Relations at Columbia University, believes that there needs to be more continued dialogue around fluidity. “Perpetuating gender nonconforming stereotypes can be just as toxic and violent as more widely discussed stereotypes about other presentations.”

Gabrielle Royal, photographer and contributor for dapperQ

Outside the veil of celebrity, real issues persist. For many who are transgender, gender-fluid, and non-binary, their mere presence is a sign of resistance with how they engage the mainstream culture through what they wear, think, say, or do. Yet, while the way a person may dress can say a lot about their character, it shouldn’t encapsulate their entire identity or experience. By compressing the many nuances of gender fluidity into whether or not a pop star wears high heels, blouses, or tailored suits, it ascribes that gender identity is mutually exclusive to someone’s outward appearance; which it is not. Moreover, when gender identities are thought of as trends, or become pithy buzzwords tossed around while pop stars wear genderless clothing from high-end designers, it only further harms an already-marginalized community.

For many who embrace all facets of their gender fluidity, there’s a level of risk and even danger involved in the simple act of getting out of bed, dressing, and leaving out their house for the day. Unfortunately, many are still targeted by how they dress, look, walk, or speak. In addition to countless discriminatory acts one may face on any given day, many are subjected to harassment and even violence because of how they present themselves. This can cause a level of anxiety and sometimes the desire to placate to traditional binary standards just to appease the mainstream.

As millennials continue to lead the movement for self-expression and actualization and as personas associated with the movement surface, it’s important to present and highlight those making an impact in various communities and not just pop stars shilling the latest genderless designer duds.

Related: What It’s REALLY Like to Go to Training Camp for Models

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Celebrity Beauty Regrets: 7 Trends Stars Probably Wish They’d Opted out Of


Here’s the unfortunate thing about beauty trends, they can change pretty quickly. Worse, they can look pretty f–king ridiculous in hindsight. Even more unfortunately for celebrities, when they participate in what turns out to be bad beauty trends, their looks are captured on camera for… well, pretty much ever. Whether it’s a streaky dye job that was totally on trend back in the ’00s, a blue eyeshadow craze that swept the red carpets in the early ’90s, or just way too much blush throughout the eras, stars, unfortunately, bear the brunt of our discarded beauty looks for years to come.

And some of them are repeat offenders. Christina Aguilera, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, and Gwen Stefani were superstars in the early 2000s — but being a big star then meant rocking some truly heinous looks. Honestly, we really don’t understand how we thought they all looked good at the time. And it kind of makes us a little terrified to think about the trends that we’re rocking now. In 10 years, are we going to look back and laugh at our messy top knots? Or our contour kits? Will Kylie Jenner‘s lip kits still be the ultimate in lip color? Or will the entire Kardashian beauty empire fall?

As long as we don’t buy into squiggle brows, we’re probably safe, right? Or are our thick, natural, defined brows — the antithesis of the overly-plucked, pencil thin brows of yesteryear — going to seem bushy and unruly and way, way too big? It’s kind of a nightmare to imagine. So, uh, let’s not. Instead of worrying about what trends we engage in now that will look ridiculous in 10 or 15 years, let’s just laugh at the old ones instead. And, for now, we can at least pretend that the inevitability of cringe-worthy fashion and beauty isn’t in our future.

Check out the gallery to see some of the most God-awful trends we used to love — and the unfortunate celebs who have the honor of modeling them forever and ever.



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Celebrity Beauty Regrets: 7 Trends Stars Probably Wish They’d Opted out Of


Here’s the unfortunate thing about beauty trends, they can change pretty quickly. Worse, they can look pretty f–king ridiculous in hindsight. Even more unfortunately for celebrities, when they participate in what turns out to be bad beauty trends, their looks are captured on camera for… well, pretty much ever. Whether it’s a streaky dye job that was totally on trend back in the ’00s, a blue eyeshadow craze that swept the red carpets in the early ’90s, or just way too much blush throughout the eras, stars, unfortunately, bear the brunt of our discarded beauty looks for years to come.

And some of them are repeat offenders. Christina Aguilera, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, and Gwen Stefani were superstars in the early 2000s — but being a big star then meant rocking some truly heinous looks. Honestly, we really don’t understand how we thought they all looked good at the time. And it kind of makes us a little terrified to think about the trends that we’re rocking now. In 10 years, are we going to look back and laugh at our messy top knots? Or our contour kits? Will Kylie Jenner‘s lip kits still be the ultimate in lip color? Or will the entire Kardashian beauty empire fall?

As long as we don’t buy into squiggle brows, we’re probably safe, right? Or are our thick, natural, defined brows — the antithesis of the overly-plucked, pencil thin brows of yesteryear — going to seem bushy and unruly and way, way too big? It’s kind of a nightmare to imagine. So, uh, let’s not. Instead of worrying about what trends we engage in now that will look ridiculous in 10 or 15 years, let’s just laugh at the old ones instead. And, for now, we can at least pretend that the inevitability of cringe-worthy fashion and beauty isn’t in our future.

Check out the gallery to see some of the most God-awful trends we used to love — and the unfortunate celebs who have the honor of modeling them forever and ever.



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YouTube Stars Liza Koshy and the Dolan Twins Take Over the 2017 VMAs


Historically, the MTV Video Music Awards rarely lacks for excitement. With meat dresses, pasties, and tween TV reunions all having held a place in its history, the event is known for its outlandish onstage moments—and an audience filled with famous faces. Though household names like Katy Perry and a latex-clad Nicki Minaj were on hand to turn heads, this year’s show featured a noticeable lack of star power—at least in the traditional sense. A-listers like The Weeknd and Zayn Malik may have been nominated, but they were nowhere to be found. Even Taylor Swift, who got the crowd talking with her video premiere, chose to spend the night at home. In their place was a roster of bold-faced names familiar only to those who watch YouTube.

For viewers over 20—aka those old enough to remember classic VMAs moments like Britney Spears’s “Oops! . . . I Did It Again” striptease or Madonna’s baroque 1990 rendition of “Vogue”—the names may be unfamiliar, but MTV has always focused its attentions on youth. With teens far more likely to watch a streaming clip on their phones than to show up for a movie or even purchase an album, and many millennials going television set–free, YouTube’s personalities are major stars within their demographic. The name Liza Koshy may not be as well known as say, Beyoncé, but with more than 11 million followers tuning in each Wednesday for her comic send-ups of the platform’s trends, she has the attention of Generation Y.

It’s also worth noting that Koshy and her fellow Internet all-stars like Tonio Skits, Alissa Violet, Erika Costell, Gigi Gorgeous, and the Dolan Twins, do double duty as attendees: Front and center at the VMAs, they mug for photographers and create content for their respective channels, doing a form of free (we assume) advertising as they engage their followers while at the event. Sharing countless Instagrams, snaps, and tweets about their experiences, they provide fans with a look inside the proceedings that’s different from what you’d find in micromanaged celebrity posts, or as edited by MTV. The constant stream of updates is catnip for fans, but it’s also completely in-line with the new era of celebrity: When even some of the night’s performers have their roots in social sharing—both Shawn Mendes and VMA–winner Alessia Cara got their starts thanks to popular Vine and YouTube accounts—it makes sense that the attendees would stem from similar platforms.

While it remains to be seen whether this trend will extend to award shows with an older viewership—Jake Paul at the SAG Awards?!—One thing is clear: Brands aren’t going to be scoffing at YouTube for long.



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Hello! Goodbye: royals gift to magazines as reality stars lose shine, says editor | Media


Love Island may have been the surprise television hit of the summer, but interest in reality TV stars in Britain is showing signs of waning while intrigue surrounding the royal family reaches record levels.

The latest circulation figures show sales of celebrity magazines are slumping, and the editor of one of the market leaders has questioned the longevity of reality TV personalities.

While the stars of this year’s Love Island may soon disappear from viewers’ minds, Rosie Nixon, the editor-in-chief of Hello!, said interest in the royals had reached an unprecedented level thanks to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Nixon said the new generation of royals had “changed the image of our monarchy” among the British public and around the world.

ABC magazine circulation figures show dramatic declines for both celebrity and women’s weekly titles. The circulation of Heat fell 17% in the first six months of 2017 compared with the same period last year, while rivals Look, Closer and Grazia were down 35%, 20% and 13% respectively.

The celebrity titles are battling against social media and online rivals such as MailOnline, but the slump in sales also suggests the appeal of reading about celebrities has declined since an explosion in interest around the turn of the century that sparked huge audiences for shows such as Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!

The circulation of Hello! was down 9% year on year between January and June, but up more than 2% compared to the previous six months.

Nixon said the magazine industry was “really tough” but the royal family was the “gift that keeps on giving”, while Pippa Middleton’s wedding in May had bolstered her title’s sales by 100,000 in one week.

“They appeal across age groups,” Nixon said. “I think the average reader age for Hello! is late 30s, but then we say we are read from everyone from 18 to 80. There is a big age span there and the royals transcend that age group, I think.

“I think the Duchess of Cambridge really has had a phenomenal effect. She was the normal middle-class girl who bagged a prince and it was such a fascinating story. She has made the royal family feel more accessible.

“Prince Harry made a very interesting comment recently when he said he couldn’t imagine now that a young boy at the age he was when he lost his mother would walk behind her coffin at her funeral in the glare of the world media. That wouldn’t happen any more and the fact he has even spoken about that shows a very different image of the monarchy than we had. That buttoned-up and not talking about your emotions that we previously had has been completely blown apart.”

Nixon, who has been at the helm of Hello! for almost a decade, said interest in the royals was the highest it had ever been, helped also by Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

“I think they could be our Brexit secret weapon,” she added. “Their [the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s] trip to Poland and Germany probably did more for us than Theresa May will ever be able to do. They really have changed that image of our monarchy.”

Asked why Hello! had outperformed other celebrity titles and enjoyed a prolonged period of success in Britain over 30 years, Nixon said: “I think we have always stuck to giving a platform to true stars, people that really are celebrated because they excel in an area of their life – whether that is acting or singing or sport, genuine talent.

“I think those kind of stars have longevity and those stars are always going to burn brightest for the longest time. I think other titles have played more to trends or people who are popular at the moment. The reality show stars that were very popular 10 years ago – the public doesn’t really want to read about those in their magazine any more because I think we can keep up with them online or on social media. It’s a different calibre of celebrity.”

Nixon said social media had changed how the public interacted with celebrities, but some stars now wanted to pull back from using Twitter.

“I think they give so much away themselves, although we are now seeing a change in the popularity of Twitter,” she said. “People are realising that you can actually say too much, and do you want to comment on everything?”

Hello! launched in the UK with an interview with Princess Anne conducted in Buckingham Palace. Nixon would like to be able to mark its 30th anniversary next year with an announcement that Prince Harry and the actor Meghan Markle are engaged.

“That would be nice if you could arrange that,” she said. “I think we are hoping that a wedding may be on the cards there. That would be great news for Hello! Obviously I can’t actually dictate when Harry might pop the question, but we are hoping that he might. They have been together for a year now just about, so that seems like a good enough time for me.”

Despite the pressure on the industry, Nixon backed Hello! to survive. “That make-up of big royal exclusives combined with these amazing wedding photo albums that Hello! is known for has kind of not changed really. I think even though obviously the personalities that we feature – the movers and shakers of the day – are now different, the way that we compile the magazine is actually comfortingly the same to our readers.

“I think in a time when the headlines are dominated by bad news, the escapism that Hello! provides is still one of its key strengths.”



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Why YouTube Stars Influence Millennials More Than Traditional Celebrities


For many decades, television was the primary medium where people consumed news and entertainment. It was also how they were marketed to. Almost every commercial featured some celebrity vouching for the greatness of some product or service. And to a degree, this continues today. Neil Patrick Harris is still doing Heineken Beer commercials, and super Bowl ads are replete with celebrities.

But the rise of social media, the dwindling popularity of TV and people’s distaste for advertising are prompting a redefinition of the word, “celebrity.” Now it is the common folk who are setting the trends and driving opinions, and they are doing it on YouTube.

YouTuber Tyler Oakley (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Millennials are currently the largest consumer demographic with about $1.3 trillion in buying power as at the end of 2015. This powerful demographic is a choice target for brands, but millennials in large part don’t watch TV and don’t care much what mainstream celebrities have to say about products or services. They trust their social media tribes and peer-to-peer advice the most.

In a study commissioned by Defy Media, 63% of respondents aged between 13-24 said that they would try a brand or a product recommended by a YouTube content creator, whereas only 48% mentioned the same about a movie or TV star. Businesses are taking notice and turning more to common folk than mainstream celebrities to reach millennials. Interestingly, the influence of YouTube stars on younger folks goes well beyond shopping.

In 2014, Variety commissioned a survey asking U.S. teenagers aged 13-18 to determine the biggest influencers. Specifically, they were asked to rank 20 popular personalities based on approachability, authenticity and other criteria, which the respondents deemed as aspects of their overall influence. In the final ranking, popular YouTubers occupied the top five spots with traditional celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Katy Perry settling for lower positions. In 2015, the magazine commissioned this study all over again. Yet, the results have proven to be the same with the top six spots going to popular YouTube stars.

So why are these YouTube personalities influencing millennials and teens more than mainstream celebrities?

1. YouTube stars are better at developing relationships

Traditional celebrities always seem to act according to their PR strategies rather than free will, and people don’t relate to them. It can feel hard to understand where a carefully staged image ends and the real person starts. And millennials deeply despise inauthenticity.

YouTube personalities, on the contrary, connect better with people by being approachable and building intimate experiences with their viewers. They are not afraid to be goofy, funny, weird or speak up on very touchy and personal matters such as sex, divorce, domestic violence and racism. According to a study commissioned by Google, 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite content creators understand them better than their friends and 70% of teens admit that they can relate to those folks more than to traditional celebrities.

2. YouTube stars drive more engagement

Reaching out to traditional celebrities and receiving a personal reply (not one issued by a hired rep) isn’t something you’ll imagine. On the other hand, YouTube personalities regularly reply to comments, act accessible on social media and schedule frequent Q&A sessions with their community, where no questions are off limit.

The relationship YouTube content creators develop with their fan base leads to higher engagement according to the same data shared by Google. Compared to videos created by mainstream celebrities, videos created by top 25 YouTube stars yield three times more views, 12 times more comments and two times more actions (thumbs ups, shares, clicks, etc.).

3. YouTube personalities set trends and shape pop culture

Most millennials agree that YouTubers set more trends than traditional celebrities these days. In fact, 70% of subscribers say that YouTube personalities change and shape the pop culture and 60% of them say they would make buying decisions based on the recommendation of their favorite YouTube star over the recommendation of a TV or movie star.

Also, in a study conducted by University of Twente among teenagers who regularly watch YouTube, a number of respondents admitted that they feel interested “in what older YouTubers have to say about things” as it helps them to shape their own opinions and worldview on certain things such as design, beauty, games, relationships and conflict management.

The influence of YouTube personalities may fall flat with older generations, who remain less exposed to the YouTube culture and prefer traditional media such as TVs and newspapers, where traditional celebrities still steer the conversations. But with millennials, it’s at an all-time high.



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Why YouTube Stars Influence Millennials More Than Traditional Celebrities


For many decades, television was the primary medium where people consumed news and entertainment. It was also how they were marketed to. Almost every commercial featured some celebrity vouching for the greatness of some product or service. And to a degree, this continues today. Neil Patrick Harris is still doing Heineken Beer commercials, and super Bowl ads are replete with celebrities.

But the rise of social media, the dwindling popularity of TV and people’s distaste for advertising are prompting a redefinition of the word, “celebrity.” Now it is the common folk who are setting the trends and driving opinions, and they are doing it on YouTube.

YouTuber Tyler Oakley (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Millennials are currently the largest consumer demographic with about $1.3 trillion in buying power as at the end of 2015. This powerful demographic is a choice target for brands, but millennials in large part don’t watch TV and don’t care much what mainstream celebrities have to say about products or services. They trust their social media tribes and peer-to-peer advice the most.

In a study commissioned by Defy Media, 63% of respondents aged between 13-24 said that they would try a brand or a product recommended by a YouTube content creator, whereas only 48% mentioned the same about a movie or TV star. Businesses are taking notice and turning more to common folk than mainstream celebrities to reach millennials. Interestingly, the influence of YouTube stars on younger folks goes well beyond shopping.

In 2014, Variety commissioned a survey asking U.S. teenagers aged 13-18 to determine the biggest influencers. Specifically, they were asked to rank 20 popular personalities based on approachability, authenticity and other criteria, which the respondents deemed as aspects of their overall influence. In the final ranking, popular YouTubers occupied the top five spots with traditional celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Katy Perry settling for lower positions. In 2015, the magazine commissioned this study all over again. Yet, the results have proven to be the same with the top six spots going to popular YouTube stars.

So why are these YouTube personalities influencing millennials and teens more than mainstream celebrities?

1. YouTube stars are better at developing relationships

Traditional celebrities always seem to act according to their PR strategies rather than free will, and people don’t relate to them. It can feel hard to understand where a carefully staged image ends and the real person starts. And millennials deeply despise inauthenticity.

YouTube personalities, on the contrary, connect better with people by being approachable and building intimate experiences with their viewers. They are not afraid to be goofy, funny, weird or speak up on very touchy and personal matters such as sex, divorce, domestic violence and racism. According to a study commissioned by Google, 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite content creators understand them better than their friends and 70% of teens admit that they can relate to those folks more than to traditional celebrities.

2. YouTube stars drive more engagement

Reaching out to traditional celebrities and receiving a personal reply (not one issued by a hired rep) isn’t something you’ll imagine. On the other hand, YouTube personalities regularly reply to comments, act accessible on social media and schedule frequent Q&A sessions with their community, where no questions are off limit.

The relationship YouTube content creators develop with their fan base leads to higher engagement according to the same data shared by Google. Compared to videos created by mainstream celebrities, videos created by top 25 YouTube stars yield three times more views, 12 times more comments and two times more actions (thumbs ups, shares, clicks, etc.).

3. YouTube personalities set trends and shape pop culture

Most millennials agree that YouTubers set more trends than traditional celebrities these days. In fact, 70% of subscribers say that YouTube personalities change and shape the pop culture and 60% of them say they would make buying decisions based on the recommendation of their favorite YouTube star over the recommendation of a TV or movie star.

Also, in a study conducted by University of Twente among teenagers who regularly watch YouTube, a number of respondents admitted that they feel interested “in what older YouTubers have to say about things” as it helps them to shape their own opinions and worldview on certain things such as design, beauty, games, relationships and conflict management.

The influence of YouTube personalities may fall flat with older generations, who remain less exposed to the YouTube culture and prefer traditional media such as TVs and newspapers, where traditional celebrities still steer the conversations. But with millennials, it’s at an all-time high.



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