Defining Beauty: ‘Make your own definition of what it is’


Dayne Tank, a photographer and model, shares his thoughts on beauty.

What is your perception of beauty?

My perception of beauty is someone expressing themselves so that they feel comfortable or amplifying something about their personality or interests in life. So, someone piling on make-up so that they are a character or that they feel themselves. Or someone wearing no make-up so they feel themselves, or wearing a dress that they made or a dress that their grandma made, which connects to their heritage. My perception of beauty is showing a deep part of yourself to the world and feeling comfortable and confident in that.

What pressures do you feel men face?

The pressures that I feel as a guy, in terms of beauty, are a bit more specific to being a gay man, because I feel that right now the expectations for gay men are to be hyper masculine … have a beard, have chest hair, have muscles. So being a thinner guy that doesn’t have a full chest of hair, can’t grow barely any facial hair and doesn’t subscribe to wearing flannels or having baseball caps with the sticker still on it, it’s hard to feel beautiful in terms like that. You have to unsubscribe and stop worrying about what everyone else is going to find beautiful.

Someone told me today that if I grow my hair into a bun, they’re not gonna find me attractive anymore, but that to me is bullshit. I’m going to get wrinkles, I’m going to lose my hair, I might lose an arm in my life and I don’t want to be held to these expectations that I need to look a certain way for the rest of my life to please someone.

Did you notice a difference between ideals with the change from Toronto to B.C.?

When I moved from B.C to Toronto, I did notice a difference, because the women in B.C. dress in lululemon and active wear is very popular. It’s a lot more comfortable, I would say, which isn’t a bad thing, that’s just the standard here. In Toronto, they’re very done up. If they’re going to the grocery store, they’ve got a full face on. I’ve seen girls at the grocery store with heels on. They’re ready to go, they’ve got their hair, their nails, the whole shebang. I saw men in Toronto being more accepting of women expressing beauty their own way. Men in B.C. are very focused on traditional values. They like the woman who stays home, has babies, makes the meatloaf kind of thing. So it was nice to see men not just expecting that. I did live in the downtown core, so obviously I’m gonna see a certain extreme of it, but I thought they were more progressive for sure.

Taken by Dayne Tank

How has being a photographer and a model affected the way you see beauty?

For me, working in the fashion and beauty industry did affect the way I saw beauty. I saw people Photoshopping women to an extreme that was unrealistic and that was something I never wanted to perpetuate. I was very lucky to have a lot of strong women in my life that let me photograph them nude or in a way that would normally be seen as unattractive. It was important to me to show a different side of beauty. I wanted to show saying that maybe women’s vulnerability can be attractive, and women’s sadness can be attractive. I think a lot of artists are doing that right now. If you look at Lana del Rey, she’s built a whole career off of a woman being sad and being heartbroken. I think we should acknowledge that sadness is an important thing to emote, and there’s never a wrong time to be honest that you’re sad, and I try to show that in the photos that I took.

Did you perceive beauty differently on either side of the camera?

My idea of beauty didn’t really change on either side of the camera and I was surprised by that, too, because I would of thought that I would have been a lot more critical on myself when I was editing photos. But even when I had a photographer do nude photos of me, I barely Photoshopped them, because I thought to myself do I want to create an unrealistic expectation for myself and think, well, I could look like that but I did not want to place that on myself. The same way, I could not place that onto other people. If someone came to me and asked me to Photoshop something on them, I would do it but only because they’re coming to me and asking me. I would never take a photo and Photoshop it to an unrealistic idea of what you would see in real life, because it made me very uncomfortable and I did not want to place that on myself either.

Credit to Dayne Tank

Is your idea of beauty as a drag queen different there than in your everyday life?

My idea as a drag queen is very different than my everyday life. I think people do drag for different reasons. Drag Kings do it for a different reason than Bio Queens, who are biological women who take on the mannerism and roles of Drag Queens. And Drag Queens do it for different reasons than both of those. For me, my reason for doing drag is that when I was younger I always really wanted to be a model, and I would look at people going down the runway and think it was the most amazing things ever. So for me when I go into drag, it has a feminine touch to it, and I do look more feminine than I do in my day-to-day life, but I’m not there to seduce a man. I’m not there to necessarily to be sexually appealing, I’m there to be something that’s very visually interesting to look at. I’m trying to impress people and have them go, wow that’s weird and interesting. It’s definitely more about the art for me.

Is there anything else you wanted to add?

I don’t want to go into beauty and say what’s wrong with it, or what’s right with it. I just think that people really need to sit down by themselves and figure out what they want to look like. They need to really try, as hard as it is, because there are so many expectations put on men and women on what is beautiful. They need to try and create their own idea of what’s beautiful. Because for me, I don’t rate myself on one to 10 scale when I go out because when people say, “Oh, that’s a three getting with a seven, how did that happen?”, I don’t see a point in that. I think for me, my idea of beauty is just expressing how I feel in that moment. I do not think people need to adopt that exact idea, but make your own definition of what it is.


Lauren Rudy

A journalism student hoping to explore the world.


  • Taylor Lima
    Reply November 11, 2014

    Taylor Lima

    This was a really great interview. The questions led to some really great responses. My favorite part was his quote about not being held to certain expectations of beauty just to please someone else because those expectations might change or be unrealistic.

  • Andrea Ross
    Reply November 24, 2014

    Andrea Ross

    I enjoyed this article and it was a great reminder to choose to not allow the worlds expectations make you unhappy. Tank said it right “there are so many expectations put on men and women on what is beautiful.” I’d like to take it a step further, that beauty is allowing your soul to be itself, to not put on mask and hide who we are. When some one is comfortable their skin, at peace with them-self and others, that is beauty.

  • Avatar
    Reply November 28, 2014

    Pricilla Westlake

    Great article. I really think the Q&A format suited your story well. We got to hear Tank’s voice and his ideals on and definition of beauty, a topic our society is becoming more and more focused on. I found your article very timely and relevant for this reason. The images you used were striking and vivid and I feel they effectively captured the tone and message behind your article. My favourite question was whether he perceived beauty differently on either sides of the camera.Overall a good article on how we define beauty in this day and age. Well done.

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