How far would you go to get the perfect job? When artist Coco Layne was interviewing for a job that would require her to look “conservative,” she realised how slight changes in her look affected how people treated her. This thought inspired ‘Warpaint’ – a project that explores the gender presentation within the masculine and feminine spectrum – going from a tomboy to a lipstick-wearing lady.
Coco started her photo series wearing a striped button-up shirt, jeans, boots, no make-up and combed her bleached blonde hair back to reveal the shaved sides of her head. Gradually she adopted a more feminine pose in each frame, softening her hairstyle, adding eye liner, mascara, blush, bright red lip colour, jewellery and high heels topped off with a skirt and floaty blouse. The final shot shows her seductively pouting at the camera.
‘The project was a reflection of my existing style choices regarding gender presentation from day to day. Although my physical appearance may fluctuate, there’s never any behavioural shift with me. Warpaint comes from the perspective a cis-gendered queer woman of colour, so it reflects my own unique experience and isn’t meant to speak for other queer people, although our experiences may intersect in some ways. It’s important to open up this conversation about gender presentation because its often confused and read as gender identity. Gender presentation is not about sexual orientation at all! Playing around with gender expression is strictly an avenue to explore my identity as a queer person not my sexual identity. Some days I’ll feel like wearing a lot of make-up and heels, while other days I’ll just do my eyebrows and dress down. I’m always still the same person.’