Male model Andrej Pejic has caused an uproar on fashion runways and magazine covers because of his androgynous looks. But he is a borderline anorexic and works out to lose, not build muscle. Can it be healthy?
Pejic’s feminine looks caused Barnes & Noble and Borders books stores to ban magazine Dossier Journal because he appeared shirtless on the cover.
The books stores said that the 20-year-old might be mistaken for a woman and sold the magazines in a brown wrapper.
Check out Andrej’s photos; click to enlarge!
Now, Pejic reveals in a new interview in the UK’s Grazia magazine that he must starve himself to look feminine and to be thin enough to model womenswear on the fashion runways.
“You can’t eat much if you want to do this,” the reed-thin 6’2″ Pejic said.
“To do womenswear I have to be disciplined. My waist has gone from 29 to 25 inches and my hips are 35 inches.”
In addition to a low-calorie diet, Andrej does cardio workouts to stay thin, not to build muscle.
“Not that I’ve ever wanted to [bulk up], but most female models don’t have any muscle mass,” he has said. “It’s a delicate state to be in.”
Pejic’s success is raising eyebrows not only for gender-bending, but for the suggestion that women need to look like skinny men with a small waist, no hips and a flat chest to walk major fashion shows.
Eating disorders and chain-smoking to suppress appetite are rampant in modeling, and the fashion industry has come under fire in recent years for idealizing what many call an unrealistic standard of beauty.
The issues were heightened by the 2007 deaths of models (and sisters) Eliana and Luisel Ramos, who died at ages 22 and 18, respectively, from malnutrition and complications related to anorexia.
In November 2010, Isabelle Caro, an ex-model who suffered from anorexia, died at the age of 28 weighing just 68 pounds.
There have been some reports that models are encouraged to eat cotton balls soaked in orange juice to lose weight, while others are put on a diet of broccoli and lettuce.
Andrej who burst onto the fashion scene when he walked both the men’s and women’s shows for Jean-Paul Gaultier in Paris in January, dismisses media attempts to pigeonhole him.
“I don’t want to be a girl, but I like to dress as a girl,” he said.
Andrej, who was born in Bosnia and raised in a Serbian refugee camp and later in Melbourne, Australia, is the “It Model” of the moment for his shape-shifting look.
“I’m not sure how the girls [models] feel about me,” he says. “They’re very competitive.”
Pejic, who won’t reveal whether he’s gay or not, has been coy about his gender identity.
“Sometimes I feel like more of a woman, other times I feel male,” he has said.
“I’m sure most people think of me as a woman. It doesn’t bother me anymore and I feel fine about it… I don’t consider my looks unusual.”