How Andrew Christian has used low self-image and body shaming within the gay community to create an underwear empire.
Andrew Christian is notably known for his very popular line of designer underwear for men. His catalogue extends from swim suits to T-shirts, as well as jock straps to briefs. His underwear line has reached mega fame by being worn by gay men, literally, all over the world. His booth is most frequented at Gay prides, and his models are the most favored stars at Pride and other LGBT events. The muscled hunks, present and past porn stars, are more celebrated than organizations that lead to progressivism within the community.
These organizations would be those that lead to passing the Employment Non- Discrimination Act (ENDA), others that help gay couples qualify for adoptions and other human rights campaigns fighting for equality, whose floats are ignored at pride events. Yes, porn stars and models are idolized from within the gay community by many. Porn stars can be seen as a way of showing a normativity of sexual relations of gay men; however, the lack of intimacy makes it simply entertainment, and not in any way a true representation of intimate gay men’s relations. The model industry with which Andrew Christian is most associated with is very much related to gaining off of gay men’s insecurities and the body shaming that appears around us day after day.
Body shaming has been a very sure fire way to sell clothing items to people who have a low self-image. The idea is to create an ideal beauty. In Andrew Christian’s case, it is making the ideal gay man’s body. Which he would believe he has in the models he selects to be ambassadors for the Andrew Christian name. Body shaming is creating an ideal persona or body that all others must now compare themselves to. Andrew Christian and his marketing campaign for muscled and tanned men strictly limit those that could ever be Andrew Christian models, or models of any kind. It is nice to look at a man with muscles, but the overall perception of beauty being only as superficial as muscle and looks sends the message that the gay community is one solely based on our visual perception of others.
Examining Andrew Christian’s advertisement, “The Audition,” we are exposed to many stigma and prejudices others have of the gay community. For example, Excessive use of alcohol, half naked men with jock straps having their rear ends hanging out, and also the promiscuity. Yet, we will only discuss the body shaming that is seen in the video. Of all the men filmed for this video two do not make the cut. One man with a large frame and lacking muscle mass is made to be a comedic audition as if someone who thinks they are sexy, and is quickly almost instantaneously upon his arrival at the audition given repulsive looks. He is graded by Andrew Christian as “Not Here” and another judge as “Terrible F.”
The second man shows up with slightly more of a build and then goes on to show he has no talent unlike the twerking, and strip teasing others in the video have shown. Of course we watch the video and think “well maybe he would have made it in, had he had a talent.” Then the next contestant walks in and stands before the judges smiles, winks, and then goes on to do armpit farts, and with a lack of sound we are left guessing whether he could actually do them or not; is it a talent? Fifth graders do it all the time, of course not all of them can, but the issue remains that a man that was not able to have a talent was cut, versus a man who had a “talent” in respect to his look.
Sexualization is to make something sexual in character or quality. Andrew Christian does just this to the gay man. When something is sexualized it becomes the norm for what should be seen as sexy, same as Victoria secret models, or beauty pageants. What happens when you create sexy? Not only are you exposing the world to a certain culture, we are also isolating, and we out cast, a majority of people who do not fit this mold. Andrew Christian’s models and advertisements do just that. The gay community is filled with insecurity of not being good enough. From our coming out we are either faced with learning that our families either say “We don’t want a gay son,” or even learning that they just want us out the house. We become immediately insecure with not being what they want, not being a good enough son, and feeling alone.
The psychology of coming out is one based on validation of others, and a denial of that validation can lead to many other mental stability issues. We seek comfort from those that are similar to us. Still, we can be told we aren’t good enough. We can be told, we are too masculine and trying to fit into a straight world, all the while trying to find love in the world, we are then faced with am I good looking enough to be with someone, will anyone find me attractive? At the end what is our go to, but images in the media to tell us where we stand in the world. Unfortunately, ads like Andrew Christian’s, “The Audition,” can cause people to feel an overwhelming pressure to fit into this mold, and can reinforce already present body image issues/ negative self-talk, that people may experience on a daily basis. Andrew Christian’s ideas of beauty and the ideal man can be seen in “The Audition.” These ideas tell a majority of gay men two things: 1) This is beauty; 2) This is what you need to be found attractive. This only brings to ideation more feelings of not being good enough, and not being what someone wants.
Andrew Christian once said in an interview that he makes his underwear to make people feel sexy, that his underwear, are in fact, to make everyone feel good about themselves, good; however, there remains the lack of understanding of what happens with gay men when we see these images of “beauty”, posted for us all to measure up to, on the internet. The argument can be made to say that there is always that one special person out there for us, but what happens when that one person has become clouded with images of the gay man he is supposed to be, and the gay man he is supposed to be with. When does the everyday gay man become the poster for gay pride? He does not. He remains silent because the images of the ideal gay man is plastered up on the internet, and he is left to feel insignificant; his voice is quieted by dance music, as well as, the partying that comes with the celebration of Andrew Christian models and porn stars in our community.
I frequent Disneyland. My idol is Walt Disney, and my favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m an LGBTQ Writer/ Director for film. I am studying to get my Bachelor’s in fine Arts for film and minoring in Queer Theory. My greatest goal in life is to create a world where Queer Cinema and the cinema we are regularly exposed to are one in the same.