Sociologists often say that gender is partly a performance. How we talk and laugh and what we say; how we stand, sit, and move; how we dress, wear our hair, and adorn our faces and bodies with make up and accessories — all these things are gendered. Insofar as we follow the rule that we perform in ways that match our genitalia, male-bodied and female-bodied people will seem more different, more “opposite,” than they really are.
Today I stumbled across another really striking example of gender performance. This one involves model Erika Linder doing both masculinity and femininity in a commercial for JC Jeans Company. What is striking to me is how she does gender with her face. It reveals that the “sexy model face” isn’t built into our DNA, bone structure, or psychology, but projected. Here are two stills, both Erika Linder; the whole commercial is embedded below.
H/t Ms. Magazine.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Andrew — March 25, 2014
Of course, it's not *just* her face that is "doing" gender here. It's also a conspiracy of hair, makeup, wardrobe, and posture, which the video clearly illustrates.
Interestingly, even though the model is a woman, the clip makes the transformation to female look more labor-intensive and artificial.
Rowan — March 25, 2014
Um, Erika is (AFAICT) not purely female though I haven't been able to confirm their preferred pronouns. Their Twitter profile says "I have too much imagination to just be one gender. Instagram" strongly suggesting a non-binary or gender fluid identity, Instagram like many websites offering a binary gender choice. Unless you have specific knowledge to the contrary can you please edit this to not use female pronouns. I greatly respect you and sociological images but please don't post about artificial nature of gender while erasing trans* identities.
P.s. other articles may well refer to them by female pronouns but this is a common erasure tactic used against trans people.
@Andrew Well, femininity generally requires more performance than masculinity plus they may well be more comfortable presenting that way.
Bill R — March 25, 2014
Men and women behave differently BECAUSE they want to accentuate the difference between the sexes. And the role playing only begins with gender. Pick a role in society and you'll probably be able to identify a set if common behaviors associated with it.
This seems obvious, no?
Shawna McComber — March 25, 2014
What strikes me is her talent. Modelling at it's best is a sort of still form acting and she's doing it!
KC — March 25, 2014
No matter what gender they identify with, talented and beautiful! I definitely have a crush!
brugorosa — March 26, 2014
I like the way she performs genders, and how she looks very sexy whatever gender she's doing... but genetics do play a big role here: without those sculpted cheekbones, sleek nose and big blue eyes, i.e. very photogenic features, the sexy model face would not materialize...
mid-week round-up | Finding delight. — March 26, 2014
[…] Performing gender with the face. […]
Weekly roundup (9 di boh) | [ladyrandom] — March 26, 2014
[…] dimostrare quanto la questione di genere sia un fattore culturale e non “genetico”, Sociological Images mi segnala la campagna pubblicitaria di JC Jeans con protagonista la modella Erika Linder, che […]
Friday Fizz: bubbles of awesome from the web | Champagne CartelChampagne Cartel — March 27, 2014
[…] Doing gender with the face - check out this model pulling ‘boy’ model faces and ‘girl’ model faces. Amazing how different a person can look! […]
Lovely Links: 3/28/14 - Already Pretty | Where style meets body image — March 28, 2014
[…] Erika Linder illustrates the performative aspects of gender by doing both masculinity and femininity in a commercial for JC Jeans […]
Mara Schellander | Motivation | PR — March 28, 2014
[…] doing gender – with the face […]
Terry Xu — March 29, 2014
Gender is a performance... based on biological differences. Equalist fallacy falls apart right there. Being able to act the opposite sex is not the same as a natural inclination or tendency to act that way.
Morgan — April 1, 2014
Does anyone else feel like the ad's tagline "Come as you are, whatever you are" is contrasted somewhat by the fact that the model arrives masculine and then is dolled up to be feminine? It makes it seem to me that femininity is the final goal or product, covering up and glossing over the model's ostensibly natural preference to appear masculine. I like the idea of the ad though, its message and its imagery. I'm not sure how, but I think they could have avoided the appearance of "progress" from masculine (non-conforming with sex assigned at birth) to feminine (conforming, and perhaps covering up preferred gender identity)
Создавать гендер с помощью выражения лица | Товаришка — April 4, 2014
[…] Lisa Wade, Sociological Images […]
Pose Once to Look Female, Again to Look Male | BroadBlogs — April 9, 2014
[…] See these pics, thanks to Sociological Images: […]
jessie jade — May 6, 2014
she's an androgynous. biologically a female. she never done any surgery so she's not a transgender. it's the combination of her physical traits, wardrobes supply, excellent photographers, makeups and many more to build such extraordinary performance. and of course bone structure is important, that's the key of versatility in her looks
Doing Gender With the Face « CENTRE FOR IMAGINATIVE ETHNOGRAPHY — May 30, 2014
[…] From article: […]
Doing Gender | Digitaler Museumsrundgang — June 11, 2014
[…] http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2014/03/25/doing-gender-with-the-face-erika-linder/ […]
Sophia McLewis — August 7, 2014
Well, I guess that's make her perfect.... really!
joe — December 27, 2014
i'm not buying it. pick up a hammer and go swing it; get some dirt under your nails. or be a receptionist and learn to be nice at the desk. do something rather than pose. i could pull both of these photos
off ten years ago. but now i am limited to the hammer swinging.
Doing Gender auf Instagram — June 11, 2018
[…] https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2014/12/26/doing-gender-with-the-face-erika-linder/ […]