Coco Layne just wanted a job. She had shaved the sides of her head and colored the rest of her hair blonde, but was well aware “my appearance had a lot to do with whether or not I would get hired.”
She put on a black bob wig, rocked the interview, and got the job. It led to hilariously awkward moments with her boss (“Um, I have a wig. Can I still go to work with my real hair?” “…What’s your real hair?”), but the experience left her thinking about hair and gender presentation in general. “What you choose to put on your body is, whether you’re conscious of it or not, what you choose to be treated as,” Layne says.
“Warpaint” came out of that thought process. It started as a school project, but when Layne put it on Tumblr, it got tens of thousands of notes and caught the attention of other news outlets. “I didn’t expect it blow up,” she says. The reception, despite a few trolls, has been “relatively positive.”
Layne acknowledges criticism that “Warpaint” operates on a binary view of gender and plans to push herself further in the future. She wants to produce work in the fashion design. Specifically, queering up lingerie. “How do you present [gender] behind closed doors?” Layne asks. “And how does what you’re wearing underneath your clothes affect how you act out in public?”
Make sure to also check out our interview with Layne and Sally Tran, calling out femmephobia, pretty privilege, and white dominance on Tumblr and in queer spaces!
COCO LAYNE is a Taiwanese American visual artist and designer who is a recent New York transplant from Los Angeles. She identifies herself as a queer femme woman. She is extremely passionate about subjects like queer visibility, feminism, glamour, and gender. She works to capture moments found in discourse about the aforementioned subjects through the lens of her unique background. Layne primarily works through digital visual presentations and will be producing work in fashion design in the near future.