There were two aspects of my identity that showed how I was different from other boys from a young age. The first was my effeminate mannerism, such as wearing tops as dresses and sneakily playing dress up in my mother’s clothes. The second was the fact that I was a chubby kid, which meant I had to shop in the adult men’s section more often than I would have liked.
Being fat, femme and queer, I was often subjected to teasing and ridicule over one aspect of my identity or at the intersection of all three. It was made clear that my fat and femme predisposition were deemed undesirable by both larger society and the queer community, even though I could not really pinpoint why it was this way.
Dress play an integral role in the manifestation of either of those identities or the culmination of all three. It could be described that my approach to everyday dress could be considered as an armor against the stigma and shame enacted upon me as a holder of multiple stigmatized identities. This can be seen in the pieces that I favored such as looser and larger silhouettes to, firstly, conceal the fatness but to also present myself as larger and, thus, more intimidating than I actually am. There was also a penchant for shoes with heels or platforms, which gave me added height, therefore making me feel more powerful, in comparison to others who were shorter than me.
My personal experience with dress thus led me to further question if other individuals who are at the intersection of fat, femme and queer subjectivities employed and utilized dress in similar instances.
Despite the stigma that was always attributed to being outwardly fat, femme or queer, individuals who identify at the intersection of all three identities, never choose to reclaim masculinity, but, instead, choose to lean into and embrace their feminine proclivities – myself included.
This exploration became the central underpinning of my graduation project during my final year at LASALLE College of the Arts. It, thus, culminated into a series of photos that hoped to re-lens the ways fat, femme and queer bodies were seen in spaces – which were often either with shame, ridicule or disgust. The images, instead, aimed to portray the holders of these identities as beautiful, respectable, strong and desirable.
Credits for Photographs:
Creative Direction & Styling : Yeong Jun Bo (@yeongjunbo)
Photography : Bernice Ng (@b.ngjxx)
Photography Assistant : Ameryllis Mok (@amerinpajamas)
Hair & Makeup : Gan Kai Shi (@shi.noises)
Styling Assistant : Abbey Yeo (@abbey.yeo), Felicia Wong (@candyflaws)
Debbi Tan (@whileontheclouds)
Models : Lucas Goh (@arya.dunn / @wenj.lucas), Diva Agar (@diva.agar),
Imran Shafique (@imzyforpresident), Iliyazid Ilias (@technogeisha),
Jensen Ng (@roseperfumeboy),