When I was growing up, I had a gigantic collection of Barbie and Bratz dolls that were the envy of my friends. I was into wearing dresses, turning a turtleneck or skivvy into a wig, and walking around the house in my Grandmother’s and Mother’s shoes. I can still remember the smell of my Mum’s perfume that lingered on the fabric of a scarf I used to tie around my head to create long hair.

My Elementary school accepted me with open arms. Teachers, parents and friends in my class understood that this was simply who I am. My Mother, Grandmother and Sister let me run free. It was at this time that I began to explore more of what was so fascinating to me.

Looking back on it now, I realise how lucky I was to have had so much acceptance.

Glamorous people and objects drove my creativity. I wanted to be a fashion designer when I turned 6. Sophistication, elegance and beauty were my kryptonite. Sailor Moon was my favourite TV show, and I had to be Posh Spice when playing pretends with friends. I even started sketching wedding dresses outside wedding shops and created my own magazine to showcase and write critiques on my own designs.

When I arrived at secondary school, the game changed. I was attending an all-boys private school, and masculinity was the aim of the game. I started hiding my interests, praying no one would ever find out about that person who I used to be and definitely no longer was. I’m a man now; I do boy things.

But everyone knows the truth always comes out.

This progresses into a story that is like so many others, some more fortunate and some worse. Yet they all follow the same plot: knowing you’re different, being targeted for it, and paving the way for yourself in your world until you find others like you.

Why do people target those who are different? Why are we made to feel less than when we are nothing less than exceptional. We are the people who push boundaries and swim upstream. We constantly test what’s tolerable and take it a little further. We are the ones making sure the future generations of us do better than we have done.

I always wonder what my creativity would be like had there been no outside influence. What if no one thought a boy playing with dolls was wrong? What if dressing up and experimenting with expression had no boundaries? That fashion and art were genderless, or the concept that anybody could be anyone and that they could do anything was a liveable truth. What if there was no idea of what was or what is normal?

What if the birds sang love and the leaves on trees listened? What if the wind could pick up its song and carry it like pollen? What if people listened to its sound and felt its message?

What if we could all just be?

I imagine it would be a Utopia.

I’ll live with the truth to these questions as unanswered. I wonder if I am poorer for having lost an explanation. Maybe I am richer for having gained a mystery.

This editorial is an exploration into the idea of what is considered normal and why we feel pressured to be it. Written and directed by Jordan Turner of MR TURNER.

I styled this editorial with Wynn Hamlyn‘s Resort 2022 collection. Although the Macrame dress and top is a unique and beautiful garment on its own, it has a symbolic representation of a barrier or cage in I don’t really talk about it (but I probably should). It is to communicate the idea that there is something holding one back, yet at the same time, there is a sentimental longing or affection for one’s true self.

  • Dijok Mai
    Posted at 05:15h, 15 July Reply

    A lovely read! Thank for being so vulnerable and going deep into this. I relate to your story in a different light and also grew up asking (and still do) “what if we could all just be ?”
    I love that despite the two very conflicting environments you grew up in – you still bloomed and became the ever powerful, fabulous and inspiring Mr Turner.
    Love you!!

  • Patricia aguilar
    Posted at 06:58h, 17 July Reply

    Oh dear! So beautiful!!! ❤️ This resonate so much with me. Thank you for sharing this! Keep being you❤️

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