“The peacock is very flamboyant and not afraid of showing off and shaking his tail feathers. He is bedazzling, ornate and over the top. I personally find fashion and drag so interesting because what is appropriate for men and women to wear has changed over time, in different cultures.
Heels were invented for men… Men used to wear tights and big wigs and makeup… In fact, until the late 18th century anyone that could afford vivid silks, lace, ribbons, embroidery, furs and makeup would wear them! Luxurious, eye catching clothes were not indicators of being masculine or feminine but of wealth and taste.”
Anna Phylactic (Manchester Drag Queen)
Peacock feathers have become a symbol of homosexuality. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries men would wear peacock feathers to identify themselves to other homosexual men, and artists would paint the feathers into the décor in their artwork to subtly signal their sexuality.
Male peacocks are considerably more colourful than female peahens. As is the case with many animals, this has resulted in the collection and display of a disproportionate number of male specimens within museum collections.
For many human communities there are differences in fashion for men and women, and while in 21st century Britain female fashion is generally more flamboyant this has not always been the case.
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Cooper, N. et al. (2019) Sex biases in bird and mammal natural history collections