Doing Gender With the Face

The “sexy model face” isn’t built into our DNA, bone structure, or psychology, but projected.
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Erika Linder. (Photo: JC Jeans Company)

Erika Linder. (Photo: JC Jeans Company)

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 is a still of Erika Linder; the whole commercial is embedded below.

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Here are two more from her Unique Models page:

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This post originally appeared on Sociological Images, a Pacific Standard partner site, as “Doing Gender with the Face, Featuring Erika Linder.”

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