Recently, there has been a Christian dilemma, and no, I’m not talking about Jesus Christ. I’m talking about renowned underwear designer Andrew Christian and his veritable warehouse of life size Ken™ dolls who are marketed as the Trophy Boys. With the recent airing of the Victoria Secret fashion show, the usual onslaught of comments on how “sexist” the show was and how “big girls are beautiful too” poured onto the web during and after the televised event. And you know what? They’re all right. The sad part is people, myself included, enjoy watching the show because it is beautiful. It’s beautiful to see beautiful people in beautiful garments even if it is a lie that that is the only standard of beauty. So where does Andrew Christian fit in? Because Andrew Christian is the Victoria Secret of the gay world.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to go watch some of his videos, head on over to the Andrew Christian official retail website and check them out. Every month there is a new release featuring his self-labeled “trophy boy” models. They feature these ripped, bulging real-life Davids in A.Christian underwear doing a variety of things from foreplay to waking up in a pleasant “morning after” scenario. Yes it’s fun to look at, erotic even, but as a gay man who isn’t an Adonis, I can say I have issues with it. I normally don’t get upset or offended when I see the male “standard” being pushed anymore and, in many ways, I have become desensitized. But the video entitled “The Audition” brought back a whole flood of emotions and questions about body image both on a personal and communal scale.
As a video, “Audition” fit the typical A Christian format; hot guys, gay icons, cute underwear-and then came in the “fat” guy. First off the comedian featured in the video is not what I, personally, would call fat. He IS big, bearish even, but unattractive…maybe, but I’m going to say no. The comedian proceeds to audition for the upcoming model shoot, and is made to look and act like a fool. It was as if the ad, and ultimately the company, were saying “To be sexy and to be perceived as such, you have to look like a Trophy Boy. Otherwise you will end up and outcast and lonely until you become one of us”. It hurt, it honestly and truly did. I, for the first time, was turned OFF by Andrew Christian.
Since then, my attitude towards the company has been mixed, but mostly negative. Yes their products are quality. Everyone who owns a pair of the famous cut-out underwear loves them, but is that product worth damaging someone else’s self image? They continue to push the standard of the “Trophy Boy” with every release and its effects have not gone unnoticed. This kind of standard has furthered not only internalized homophobia within the gay community, -see Grindr, at least half profiles are seeking “masculine only. no fats. no femmes.”- it also furthers the Adonis complex within young gay men. Instead of embracing our unique selves, we go to the gym to mold ourselves into the Trophy Boy, to fit a formula that is fed to us, not only by Andrew Christian but other companies as well. We don’t eat, we spend massive amounts of unnecessary money on making ourselves look good and we shut people out by unconsciously holding them to the same standard that Andrew Christian and others continue to promote.
I would like to conclude this post with a message to Andrew Christian and his company: I appreciate the fact that you have no bones about making a company that caters to gay men and their undergarment needs, however, please be courteous and try to feature a wider range of models in your videos and advertisements. Not all of us can look like Ken™ dolls, so please stop telling the world we can.