Androgyny is something that is commonly misunderstood. Sometimes it is tied to those who are in a gender crisis and sometimes it is tied to one’s sexuality. However in recent years androgyny has been a trending fashion look and is also heavily tied with the hipster culture. In regards to Franky, her type of androgyny is a little bit of that hipster fashion trend and also a sort of symbolism for how closed she was from feminine influence.
She was given up by her mother and then put into the system for quite some time before being adopted late in life by her two dads. She was constantly moving, constantly being moved, and constantly feeling empty by never having a home to call her own. She was never given the opportunity to explore her identity, because she was denied the comfort of being able to take risks to determine who she is. When you are constantly in survival mode the only thing you focus on is the day to day and trying not to get attached. Franky in my opinion dresses androgynous because she feels empty and undefined.
As Series 5 progresses we see her style become more comfortable with herself as the series progresses; especially when you compare it to the beginning scene of her episode. She is growing and she has all these new influences in her life that are showing her different ways to dress and be. Not because they are forcing Franky to change or telling her she is abnormal, but instead it is that natural change that occurs when new influences enter our lives.
During the summer between Series 5 and Series 6 Franky goes through a massive transformation. Many viewers felt that the change was sudden and felt shocked. I understand this feeling, because the transformation occurred off screen without us to see the progression. As the audience we are being asked to suspend judgment and accept the changes in Franky’s character. Some people were not willing to make that leap and some were willing to give the writers that breathing room. I’m somewhere in between. I would have loved to have seen Franky develop and I would have also loved to see the relationship that Matty and Franky had. Just to feed my own burning curiousity and build my own understanding of both of these complex characters. On the other hand I also fully understand the change in Franky’s fashion over the Summer.
Many times when a girl is tom boyish or in this case fashionably androgynous gets into a relationship it sometimes makes girls feel more feminine. So girls begin to start experimenting with more revealing clothes or even make up, because of the feelings that accompany a new romantic relationship. It is obvious that this may have occurred along with the fact that Franky was able to build herself a safe environment in which she feels comfortable to experiment with her identity. Remember they are young and this is the time in which many people go through a number of phases. After Franky begins to draw herself away from Matty and after the accident happened that took Grace’s life—Franky then goes between a modified version of the old look to a more feminine style. The fashion guru for Skins and Frankybluerichards have both stressed that Franky in Series 6 dresses according to mood. You can see that throughout.
In many ways making Franky an androgynous character was a dangerous move on behalf of the creators. It is a label that comes with judgments and misconceptions. Especially in terms of assuming one’s sexuality and/or not understanding what form of androgyny Franky has. So when Franky began to change her behavior and change her style many people were left confused by this change. They could have portrayed Franky in a different way to show that she was essentially a lost and undefined girl in the beginning. However I find this part of Franky fascinating and I admire Skins for giving this look a chance. Because I think it did high light many misconceptions and pre-judgments people make towards those who dress or are sexually ambiguous.