NAZIM OTHMAN “Dress Me Like a Woman - Special Edition
What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘gender’? From young we were taught that gender means a person’s assigned sex at birth. We understood the basic biology that it only goes both ways, you’re either a boy or a girl. It’s a simple concept. But this story, does not apply to all in the most direct way.
For some, gender is not just about being male or female; in fact, how a person identifies him or herself everyday can change within hours if not, according to different circumstances. Imagine this: two figures in the night, two silhouettes at the corner of the street
in messy hair, oversized and loose sweaters cropped to the knees, straight cut jeans with sneakers. Is it two hipster guys hanging out? A boy secretly meeting a girl? A female duo? Do you really know? No. Because you can’t judge a person’s gender by their clothes.
Gender Fluidity: When gender countenance shifts between masculine and feminine which can be displayed in the way one dresses, express and describe themselves.
The emergence of gender-fluid figures that has proved such transitions include Ruby Rose, Kehlani, Hayley Kiyoko and your homegrown local actor and model, Nazim Othman. As one of the most well-known faces in the mainstream entertainment industry, Nazim has had his fair share of opiniated people that believe one’s way of dressing should only stick to their born gender.
“The way I dress have always been a little different if not much compared to my peers especially when I was in high school. Appearing ‘different’ from the rest made me stood out. With this, it caused me some emotional breakdown because there were a bunch of people who teased my rolled-sleeve t shirt back then for looking girlish. Ah well, school life. It was never easy”, said Nazim when being asked whether he was bullied for the way he dressed during his younger years.
It’s no surprise that sensitive or taboo issues like LGBTQs and gender expressions strikes little to too many nerves in the minds of Malaysians. But with gender fluidity, there are a lot of misconceptions because being gender-fluid doesn’t determine one’s sexual preference.
Terms like ‘cross-dressers’ or ‘transvestite’ were normally used to describe gender-fluid individuals due to lack of research on the evolution and progressive movement of this identity terminology.
“There’s this term known as androgyny. We know that. For those who don’t, it’s about time for you guys to open your perspectives a little bigger. It’s 2018. People are so hard on each other in every aspect of life; even on how the way someone dresses. To me personally, of course one should dress according to his or her gender identity, however for instance, a little twist like a scarf on your neck paired with a t shirt won’t change a man’s sexuality. The way some one dress up reflects their personality without having to speak. Having said that,
as long as it doesn’t cross line, just show up the way YOU like it,” says the actor when asked whether one should only stick to dressing to their gender.
Gender fluidity is not the equivalent to transgenderism whereby a person’s gender identity is different from when they are at birth. It is an actual physical, mental and emotional shift in how a person interacts with the world.
Nazim is no stranger to haters as other celebrities. Being a celebrity means having a group of people not admiring everything you do and hating the way look. For Nazim, it was trolls on Instagram and pretentious “fans” who tell him ‘you look feminine’, ‘you’re not masculine enough’.
“I used to care so much about what others thought of me in every single way.
However as I grew older, I’ve come to realize that those opinions don’t really matter since I’ve never cross-dressed or any sorts.I remember this one occasion when I was 17, at a mall in Johor Bahru. I was wearing a turtle neck with a black leather pants. After just about half an hour, I decided to buy a new t shirt, went to the restroom and changed my outfit right away because people were staring at me as though I was from another planet.”
As a gender-fluid person, Nazim admitted that he has encountered days and times where he felt like behaving or dressing up differently than he usually would.
“Dress me like a poised lady please! Honestly, I have thoughts of dressing like a woman after watching Eddie Redmayne rocked his role in The Danish Girl. As an actor, I pray that one day, someone will offer me that kind of role. Having said that, yes I’ve thought of dressing up ‘differently’, but only for my acting career. As for my daily life, I’m pretty confident with my current style whether people love it or not.”
Nazim adds,” Well that was years ago. I still do have to take into account other people’s opinion about me now that I’m a public figure, but the difference is that nowadays critics don’t hurt me that much anymore.”In the fashion arena, there are no judgments or reasons to have discussion on how to look more feminine or manly. A woman wearing trousers, rather than a skirt was once a big taboo. Eyes are drawn when a local girl walks around a pantsuit than a dress. Back then, patterned clothing was viewed as feminine where only certain prints, such as checks and stripes, were deemed ‘masculine’.Not forgetting colours such as pastel pink or lilac that were once thought as ‘un-manly’.
If there was one stereotype or perception on gender fluid individuals that Nazim could change, he says, Just let people wear what they want to wear, as long as they don’t steal yours. Period.”
People need to take a moment and step back to understand that gender-fluid is not associated with one’s sexual preference. One has freedom to express any way they want to and is not entitled to clarify the reason behind their dress up.