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"Gender is bulls**t and is made up to put people in a box": Meet the badass intersex model challenging gender norms

Breaking the boundaries.

27 Sep 2018

Fashion and diversity have been synonymous this season and isn't it about time?

But there's one fashion house really pushing the boundaries of both fashion and beauty in the most refreshing way.

Maison Margiela's creative director, John Galliano, unveiled the house's first perfume, Mutiny, at his SS19 show in Paris and it served as a manifesto for a brave and diverse new generation.

John has tapped six mutinists, Teddy Quinlivan, Sasha Lane, Molly Blair, Willow Smith and Hanne Gaby Odiele, to represent the new fragrance and each ambassador represents their own expression of these multi-faceted values: nonconformity, diversity and creativity.

One of the trailblazers is Hanne Gaby Odiele - a 29-year-old model who was born as intersex and followed her instinct to live as female.

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Speaking to GLAMOUR after the show in Paris, Hanne couldn't be more excited to be apart of such a groundbreaking campaign. “There’s five women doing something incredible with their own unique voices and they’re all trailblazers in their own way. The house of Margiela has always been about self-expression and I feel this fits right in."

The biggest coup for Hanne is being granted the opportunity to talk freely about her sexuality after years of being denied the opportunity. She said: "Gender in general in something that I think is bullsh**. It’s something that’s made up to put people in a box. It doesn’t make any sense.

"I was born intersex. Intersex means that you’re born with sex characteristics that don’t really define the definition of female or male. A lot of people live with it alone and in secrecy and feel very ashamed. You can be whatever the f*** you want. You can be whoever you want, whatever you want, you can dress however you want, you can become whatever you want. What is glamorous about fitting in?".

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She hopes that by featuring in this campaign, it will help other intersex people feel represented in society, adding: “For others, it will be huge to see themselves represented. To see the word 'intersex' printed out in a commercial is something I never saw growing up."

Her co-sta, Teddy Quinlivan, a 23-year-old model and voice of support for transgender youths, agrees. "I hope this really resonates with young people, especially in the political climate we’re in. This is going to touch everybody," she said.

"When I was growing up, I was always extremely attracted to femininity. I was willing to give up everything for it. Living authentically was more important than having friends. I just stopped giving a sh**. Coming out as a trans woman, I couldn’t just wait for someone to destigmatise what it means to be transgender. I want to be that role model to the transgender girl or boy or whoever in high school is confused and scared and doesn’t have anywhere to turn. Being who you really are is an act of defiance."

Hanne, who sits before me without a slick of makeup on and that cool girl nonchalant hair, believes the term ‘beauty’ has nothing to do with the latest lipstick or hairspray, instead maintaining that it’s all about how you carry yourself. “Beauty is subjective, it’s confidence, a mood, it’s not how much makeup you wear. It’s all about an attitude,” she said.

In light of GLAMOUR’s #blendoutbullying campaign, I ask Hanne about her experience with beauty bullies and online trolls but she prefers to look for the optimism in the conversation they’re creating, thoughtfully responding: “There’s always bullies but if they talk, at least there’s a conversation happening.”

Her attitude towards online bullies is as refreshing as the campaign she stars in – and Hanne believes the fashion industry will become more diverse with each season that passes.

“Diversity is very necessary. It’s 2018, it’s a time when everyone needs to feel accepted. Seeing yourself represented is so important, we need to break those boundaries and become a better society in general.” Here, here.

As a mouthpiece for her cause, Hanne is looking forward to celebrating Intersex Awareness Month next month and speaking out for anyone without a voice. Next stop? The world.

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