The Fashioning of Gender Expression: Mia Yaguchi-Chow

Who is Mia?

Mia Yaguchi-Chow (she/they) is a Toronto-based visual artist who connected with It Gets Better Canada to share her thoughts on identity and gender. As an artist and a graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University School of Fashion, Mia understands the power of using fashion and art as an outlet for expression and gender identity.

About the video:

Mia’s video with It Gets Better Canada is a showcase on gender expression through fashion and art. Using her skills as a digital artist, Mia recreates 6 distinct looks from her past to highlight an ever-changing style. Whilst her outfits are beautiful, they work to convey a deeper message regarding her identity. Watch how she uses her skills in illustration to convey these messages

Themes covered in the video

Gender Fluidity– Gender Fluidity represents the flexibility in not identifying as a specific ‘gender’ (male, female, etc.) through fashion or social conventions. For Mia, gender fluidity highlights her desire to not want to “fit into a box” and label themselves, as she is comfortable in the ambiguity she portrays. In her words: “[she’s] open to the fluidity of her expression”, as it gives her the freedom to express herself from within.

Labels – Mia talks about the concept of ‘labels’ and how it can be both helpful and damaging to an individual. Whilst labels help others understand you better, they put the person in an awkward situation where they might feel rushed to label themselves, for the sake of others.  Ultimately, you are the only person that defines yourself. Labels are nothing more than words and should hold no sense of power or status in the world; we are not confined to the labels we identify as and can always change them as we see fit. 

Identity (as a queer person) – Mia speaks about the external struggle that we feel to need to ‘define ourselves’. Mostly, we feel pressured to figure out our identity for the sake of other people. Naturally, we all seek a desire to belong amongst our peers, especially when we can start to figure out that we are different. Labels help people understand us better, but they can be damaging if we try to rush it. Celebrate your uniqueness, rather than stressing over defining your identity. I am me. Mia is Mia. You are You.

Art & Fashion – Fashion has always been a unique form of expression for people of all sexualities and gender identities. Whether we dress ‘masculine’, ‘feminine’, or ‘androgynous’, we use fashion to express ourselves. Fashion is an art that highlights our individuality and gives us the confidence to be who we want to be. In Mia’s situation, she uses fashion and art to define herself. Keep an eye out throughout the video of all the images Mia includes: her fashion is incredibly unique, and works to represent her identity as Japanese, Chinese, Canadian, queer, and gender-fluid.

Compassion and Acceptance – As we talk about the importance of highlighting our uniqueness and identity, it’s important to understand that sometimes, a label makes sense for our individual needs. Desiring a label should not be looked down upon, if that is what makes sense for you. You should strive to satisfy your identity in whatever way makes you happy. And similarly, those around us might be going through something similar. The path to finding ourselves is complex and tricky, and it doesn’t happen on our own. Accept those around you and help them arrive to their destination. Mia talks about the need to  “normalize queerness” and I’d even go as far as to add “normalize individuality” to that message.

Conclusion:

Mia’s video on gender fluidity represents one of the many ways in which gender expression is unique to us. Her view on their gender expression reflects her uniqueness and is representative of her interests and values. Similarly to Mia, you may have your own desire to explore the expression of your gender identity. As Mia celebrates her identity as a reflection of all the pieces that have allowed for her individuality to shine, you should celebrate your own. No matter what you identify as, you are wholeheartedly unique.

Illustration of group moving forward
Artwork created for It Gets Better Canada by Gwen Hovey

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