Model Rain Dove is the Boy or Girl "Next Door"

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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Dove volunteers for various nonprofit organizations, including Feed America, which provides food and support for families in need. Dove commits herself to volunteering whenever she can, but it's not something that she views as separate from the world of high fashion. For Dove, presenting as a gender-nonconforming person in the fashion world is a form of activism.

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Dove has a phrase she likes to repeat about her generation's obsession with and reliance on social media: "We are a selfie nation, not a selfless nation." Dove actively posts photos of herself from fashion shoots on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and gets good engagement, but when she chooses to post photos of herself doing volunteer work, she notices that she always loses around 30-80 followers on Facebook, and at least 200 followers on Instagram.

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Dove speaks without hesitation when she reveals that she's not in the fashion world to "preach to the choir." She doesn't want to attract only those who follow her work after seeing headlines online about how she's "breaking gender norms." She wants to reach the corporate gatekeepers of the commercial fashion world. The most sought after brand that she would like to model for is not one that people generally associate with gender fluidity or gender queerness. "I am a 100 percent determined to be a Victoria's Secret model. I have the tits and I have the height and I can walk in high heels." Dove is self-aware enough to know that her gender presentation isn't exactly what people associate with either "male" or "female," the outdated binary that still defines how most people think of themselves.

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The challenge for Dove is that her "masculine of center" appearance could potentially ward off commercial brands because, "I look like what we have taught society a lesbian looks like. I just do. I have the short hair, I got the muscles." It's difficult for Dove to book commercial shoots because she comes with "sociopolitical associations ... that a company might not be ready to endorse."

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On the rooftop of a parking garage in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, Dove stands in front of the photographer, waiting for the shutter to click at the right moment, and her face takes on an intensity that you don't see when you talk with her. She is no longer the friendly, welcoming, easygoing person you were having a conversation with five minutes ago. For someone who only a few years ago was working as a firefighter and so penniless she slept at a gym, Dove is almost an old pro at modeling. At the camera clicks, she coordinates in her mind how to properly position her body, and the way she positions her face, pouts her mouth, and intensifies her eyes is different when she's modeling for menswear versus women's wear. She explains that when she models menswear, she must show an "angry face," whereas for women, she goes for a softer look in her eyes.

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The androgynous lesbian model is not apologetic when it comes to her look, which allows her to model both menswear and womenswear, and believes her career is a type of activism. "I think it's a different kind of activism. Like, women shouldn't have to step into men's roles to be empowered. They should be able to step into themselves," she said. "So that's what I try to bring, that we shouldn't be thinking of it as menswear or womenswear; it should be clothing for people. And that is geared towards anatomical values but isn't exclusive."

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The androgynous lesbian model is not apologetic when it comes to her look, which allows her to model both menswear and womenswear, and believes her career is a type of activism. "I think it's a different kind of activism. Like, women shouldn't have to step into men's roles to be empowered. They should be able to step into themselves," she said. "So that's what I try to bring, that we shouldn't be thinking of it as menswear or womenswear; it should be clothing for people. And that is geared towards anatomical values but isn't exclusive."

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Although Dove has received attention from major news sites, she has yet to receive the commercial success she would like to. She speaks confidently when she says that she knows her time is coming soon. Although the industry she works in is known for being heteronormative, Dove understands that advertising agencies "aren't some evil illuminati trying to dupe the people into living heteronormative white lifestyles." They are simply "trying to make money in the safest way possible." These agencies will eventually want to capitalize off the trend of androgyny, says Dove, as cultural and political shifts are made, it will show those agencies that a "larger group of people are backing LGBT movements and sociopolitical movements." Dove isn't waiting around for Marc Jacobs or Donatella Versace to discover her. Instead they might come looking for her. "I am female genitalia'd and I don't look like that classic girl next door that you see in the movies, but why can't I be?" It's 2015. Who even is the classic girl next door anymore?

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