That readers of FHM have voted an androgynous man in to their most recent list of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World might have been a cause for celebration among equal rights campaigners.
Instead, the magazine has provoked outrage over its warning to readers to “pass the sick bucket” on encountering 19-year-old Andrej Pejic, rather ignoring the fact that it was they who voted for him in the first place.
“Designers are hailing him as the next big thing,” the blurb accompanying Pejic’s entry online read before it was hastily removed, after drawing a wave of criticism. “We think ‘thing’ is quite accurate.
“The gender bender has jumped the gun in hoping he might one day be signed as Victoria’s Secret Model (pass the sick bucket).”
The magazine said: “Andrej Pejic appears at number 98 in FHM Magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2011.
“Regrettably the copy accompanying Andrej’s online entry wasn’t subbed prior to going live. Once we realised, we removed it immediately and apologised for any offence caused. FHM has spoken to the individual concerned and taken steps to ensure this can never happen again.”
Though the outrage caused by comments prompted FHM to remove the entry from its website, Pejic will still feature in the print version of the list which comes with this month’s edition.
“More troubling is the fact that Andrej is not the only one when it comes to supermodels that are not all t hey seem,” the magazine goes on. “The current face of Givenchy and “lady” locking lips with Kate Moss on the cover of Love magazine is transgender model Lea T. who began life as Leandro. One fashion trend we won’t be following.”
Yet, it is really just another success for the 19-year-old Serbian model, who grew up in Melbourne. He was first spotted by a talent scout while working at his local fast-food restaurant, and his since modelled for Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs in campaigns at Paris Fashion Week.
When he began modelling his agency encouraged him to be more masculine, and go to the gym, as the menswear clients wouldn’t like him, before realising a completely new direction might be more profitable.
But it is not the first time controversy has followed him. Last month his unbuttoned top on the cover Dossier Journal in the United States became an issue for the book-selling giant Barnes & Noble, which insisted the magazine be sold in opaque plastic bags.
Having been chatted up by Australian men since the age of 14 (“Sometimes they’re shocked, but most of the time they still want to buy me a drink,” Pejic says), neither his place on the list nor the reaction it has engendered will come as a particular surprise to him.
He has been more philosophical than his persecutors on the matter. In an interview last month, he declared: “It’s a very liberal industry. You can be yourself. Just not overweight.”
(Source: The Independent)