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Why society frowns at male models

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BY CHIEDZA MAZHANGARA
MANY people believe that modelling is meant for women only and when a male becomes a model, society goes on to label them gay, a disposition largely frowned upon in Zimbabwe.

Many Zimbabweans in general misconstrue pageantry as meant to only showcase women’s beauty and body shape. It is, however, an industry that showcases talent and also just like culture, this industry is dynamic as it gives equal opportunities to both males and females.

One then wonders what informs the perception that males who partake in pageantry are gay, a temperament that Zimbabwean society largely stigmatises and still has a long way to come to terms with. Is it the clothes these models wear? Is it the way they carry themselves around? Or, is it because society is generally used to the idea that modelling is meant for women only?

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style, some male models shared their sentiments on why they think society has this misguided view of male models.

Mister Zimbabwe International founder Ishmael Murangandi thinks the world is not to blame for making such a judgement, but rather the genesis of pageantry has also contributed to people developing this mindset.

“People have derived this notion from the history of beauty pageants. When they started they were for the ladies and people who founded pageants were feminists who sought to empower and celebrate women and their bodies.

“Therefore, the roots of pageants are the ones that have made people have such a view towards pageants. Now with the revolutions and evolutions that have occurred over the years, beauty pageants moved from only celebrating women ‘s bodies to tackling socio-economic factors that people face in their daily lives,” he said.

He further mentioned that back then, it was the beauty queens who were highly regarded as societal role models of good will and kind deeds. However, patriarchs then saw it worth joining this movement which ladies had started,  and this marked men’s entry into the fashion and modelling world.

Murangandi also stated that it would take time for the world to accept male models and stop stereotyping them.

“Male models themselves should work hard to empower themselves and engage with communities in goodwill or development projects. The attention of the world will gradually be shifted to the work of these big-hearted gentlemen,” he added.

Dhyaan Kumar Savania, 1st Prince of Zimbabwe 2022, said: “You cannot label someone as gay or homosexual based on their being models.

“Modelling is a profession just like any other job description out there. It is the same. We are not only classified as gays but also as players who mess around with different women.

“Seeing is believing. We should not just wake up one day and assume that if you are a male model you are gay or you are a player. Some male models are hardworking and dedicated to their work. That mentality should stop.”

He added that being labelled gay does not really affect one, unless you let if affect you mentally. Most male models in Zimbabwe are focused on their careers and they do not really even bother about it, because most of them know that it is all just speculation.

Part-time model Farai Zemben said: “It is the stereotypical society which regards modelling as a feminine career. When one becomes a model, the first thing is grooming, which a lot of people in society lack. When one is groomed well they start knowing how to dress, how to keep clean and that is something society does not really think is a male characteristic.

“We live in a society where getting a pedicure and manicure is a woman’s thing. As one becomes a model, they are taught these things and they live with them which makes society think it is being gay because it is believed no man can look after themselves.”

Praise Mufaro Tinago said: “The reason why people always think that male models are gays is because they already believe that modelling is for ladies. But modelling is for everyone, it is helping our businesses, companies and other stuff.”

To erase the misconception, he urged male models to simply keep believing in themselves, and working hard for the industry, adding that there is need for more campaigns targeting male models.

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