Make-up has no gender. If there’s one thing 2016 has proved, beauty-wise, it’s that make-up is no longer a women only kind of thing. James Charles became the first ever male Covergirl, numerous male make-up artists became fan favorites via YouTube,… The subject of gender fluidity and gender bending is back on the table. And luckily so, because a lot of people in this world do not fit the binary gender boxes society sets for us. Thing is: the world is too diverse and complex to be trapped in a couple of labels or boxes. Right now, things are finally changing for the better, after a long period of quite rigid gender thinking. Still, the fuzz that people still make about gender creative individuals seems so unnecessary. Why? Well, girl, we’ve been there!

Been there, done that

Think about it: less than forty years ago, in the wild, funky and especially openminded (well, at least in some aspects) 70s and 80s, playing with gender was actually quite common: during and after the sexual revolution, people were more open to gender exploring, testing and replacing limits, doing their thang, no matter what gender or sexuality. If they liked it, they did it. Of course, there were people that took the lead, celebs in the public eye who showed that everything was and is possible. This post is an homage to three of them. Three of the most talented, creative, gender bending icons of all time.

An unholy trinity of gender bending

Who are the three icons I am talking about? Easy: David Bowie, Prince and Freddie Mercury. All three of them music legends, but their legacy goes way beyond that. Yes, they made great music that will probably stay relevant for ever, but together, they make some kind of unholy trinity of gender bending. They weren’t afraid to experiment, and they did it unapologetically. Let’s get into the how’s and what’s, let’s take a closer look at how these pop stars became all around legends.

David Bowie

enfntsterribles_beauty-genderbendingicons_2David Bowie, the legendary singer who passed away earlier this year, was a master in reinventing himself. His career took off to incredible heights when he introduced his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust to the world, in 1972. He created characters for his music, alter ego’s on stage. Ziggy Stardust was the first one, quickly followed by the Thin White Duke. Bowie loved acting, and he was so immersed in his role that he sometimes found it hard to separate Ziggy from David. In his Ziggy Stardust character, Bowie created probably some of his most iconic looks: the lightning bolt across his face, the alienesque make-up, the gender-fluid garderobe. David Bowie wasn’t afraid to express himself through make-up and fashion, and he spread the message that we didn’t have to be afraid either. One of my favorite Bowie quotes is this one:

“I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That’s why I need to throw curve balls.”

Prince

Prince was a real jack of all trades, like they say. Singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer, all round genius. When he died in April of this year (What’s up with 2016 taking all our legends away?), the world was shook.

enfntsterribles_beauty-genderbendingicons-princeKnown for his extravagant costumes and make-up, Prince wasn’t afraid to show his true colors. He defied stereotypes of race and gender, and became a sex symbol (!) through his androgynous looks. Crazy, right? Less than 50 years ago, an androgynous music star was nothing less than a sex symbol, while right now, we treat androgynous, gender creative people like some kind of oddity. Another thing: Prince was a true feminist. He always had strong female presences in his band, and he continuously supported women in the music industry. Signs of a true hero!

Freddie Mercury

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Freddie Mercury. Where does one begin? Best known as the lead vocalist for the legendary band Queen, Freddie acquired the superstar status extremely early in his career. Next to his incredible range, Freddie Mercury was and is also famous for his flamboyant, gender-fluid stage persona. He was a true performer, full of drama and energy. He liked to tease, shock and charm his audience with more and more extravagant versions of himself, and he wasn’t afraid to reinvent himself either.

All three of these legends have in common that they weren’t afraid to express themselves, to test boundaries, to erase gender, race and sexual stereotypes. Right now, in 2016, people get so scared of what others may think, when really all it takes is the guts and the attitude to just do it. You never know where it’s going to get you, and believe me: Life is a lot more exciting when lived outside of your comfort zone. Now, go out and express yourself!