This past May 3rd was slightly different; I recently just moved to Cairo and I celebrated my birthday with my dear gift from God friend, Dr. Mo (yes also a Mo), and yes ALSO happened to be born on the same day. And since my last article tackled the Bunny Man, a sense of betrayal and guilt would have ghosted me if I was to ignore Mr. Torero.
Dr. Mo has a fascination with silver jewelry for men, so I was referred to this silver shop in Zamalek which saved my gift hunting mission, as my eyes immediately fell upon a double wrap silver ring made by hand with an intricate weave motif similar to that of a Bottega. As we exchanged gifts that night over dinner along with Mo’s friends whom he had wanted me to meet, I was so sure that as soon as Mo would unwrapped his gift he would immediately utter “OMG this is so me” I can’t go wrong with another May 3rd I know them by heart especially that my father and brother are also born on that same day. Few seconds of silence before Mo expressed genuinely “But where would I wear this? Isn’t this quite eccentric on a MAN?”
There it was crystal clear “MALE TOXICITY IN FASHION” Going back home that night in my Uber, I found myself thinking a lot about what a simple double wrap silver ring on an Arab man specifically would signify, forgetting that precisely that night I had a hard time trying to put on something from my own men’s latest collection. I didn’t feel comfortable wearing my own designs to a dinner; I don’t practice what I preach? I forget that in the early days of America, women wearing pants was extremely scandalous, and now it’s completely accepted by society. Why, then, is wearing jewelry any different? I should be able to wear anything without being judged and called “unmanly.”
The masculine powerful Taurus in both of us that night out shadowed all the other characteristics that this unique earth sign celebrates. Wait a minute, can we just pause, rewind? In astrology, Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus, which is associated with love, beauty, and creativity. I am a beautiful man when I can celebrate my “feminine” qualities too. Easy said honey.
The symbol of the Taurus has appeared in various forms in fashion history, inspiring designers with its rich mythology and symbolism. The bull itself is a highly virile and dominant animal and has been used to echo strength, loyalty, and virility throughout history. In the modern-day fashion scene, Taurine designs are still popular, with fashion houses drawing inspiration from the animal. If we look back, Alexander McQueen’s collection for S/S 2010 featured several Taurine designs. Gucci 2020 men’s collection, also featured coats, blazers, and suits with red accents, a colour associated with the Taurus zodiac sign. But regardless of how inspiring the sign has been and will continue to be, I don’t want to be committing an “hors sujet” The notion of male toxicity in fashion refers to the toxic judgements, behaviors, and dogmas that are often present in men’s style fashion entourage. These behaviours prolong harmful gender stereotypes and contribute to a culture of toxic identities. I do not fit into traditional masculine norms, I don’t want to fit!
Toxic masculinity is all around us. Toy aisles that are separated by gender, young boys being taught to act tough and refrain from showing emotion and men being expected to dress a certain way are all examples of gender stereotypes that can prevent boys and men from exploring their interests. Being a man isn’t a set of behaviour, we can look away from ugliness and spread our eyes on beauty and playfulness. “Yeah I bet your daddy’s real proud of how his little girl turned out.” I know that some of you identity battle fighters out there have heard worse, but the battle of self-expression is so worth it and the journey is rewarding.
On my birthday I make a wish; Olé 1 to those of you who embrace individuality, to designers who are making conscious efforts to blur the very rigid lines between genders. Olé to the bright pink in the Torero’s cape and to you my friend for being real. Happy Birthday.
1 There is some debate as to the origin of the word olé, but general consensus is that it comes from the Arabic word for God, Allah. The Spanish language is heavily influenced by Arabic thanks to 700 years of Moorish occupation.