There are a lot of things to admire on Jonathan Acosta Abi Hassan’s Instagram. There are the plus size, genderfluid style blogger’s eyebrows, perfectly filled and arched above dark eyes. There are the struts and the poses, ranging from the coquettish cocked head to the casual glance over the shoulder with full smize (it’s a style post; I was gonna mention smizing if it killed me). And, of course, there are the well-styled garments and accoutrements, which include Jeremy Scott kicks, a lot of ASOS, and Pull&Bear.
But, though the aesthetics matter to Hassan, the larger drive behind his blog and social media accounts is creating an encouraging community for people who don’t feel well represented.
“I want people to know that my blog and my photos and everything that I do is not just to show my style as a fashion influencer but also to tell people that it’s good to be themselves,” Hassan tells me when we speak on the phone.
A fashion merchandising student living in South Florida, Hassan is driven to increase his voice, so he can better project his message of acceptance. Currently, he works full-time creating content for his blog Jonny On The Go and for brands in Miami and abroad, attending events, taking fashion photographs, and making fashion videos. He doesn’t have any assistance running his tiny corner of the web, so he has to wear many figurative hats, smoothly transitioning from one role to another.
This flexibility is also a marker of Hassan’s gender, which he terms gender fluid. People who identify thus are sometimes called genderqueer and non-binary as well. It means that they exist outside of cisnormativity or the gender binary. Simply, they don’t identify as solely female or solely male. For example, he/him and they/them are Johnny’s preferred pronouns. He explains that he is “not just somebody who only connects himself to one gender but mostly to the fluidity of both or all of the genders at the same time.”
In celebrating his own style and who he is with Jonny On The Go, Hassan hopes to inspire others to do the same. In part, because he knows what it’s like to be forced to hide or conform. Born in Venezuela, Hassan was taught to be uncomfortable with himself; in order to promote heteronormative behavior, his mom would hide or burn clothing deemed “too gay for a man to wear.” And then, there was the overarching pressure of Venezuelan society to contend with.
“When I was living in Venezuela I never got the chance to express myself fully,” Hassan tells me. “I couldn’t actually wear high heels in the street because I know that it would be something that would not only create a social problem but also political arguments.”
At sixteen, after finishing high school, Hassan moved to France, where he lived in Nice for two years. Though the gender expectations of Venezuela were lessened, Hassan still found himself having to hide who he was in order to protect himself. “Many times, I went out to a party and after the party ended, when I was coming home, I’d have people follow me in the street, screaming things at me, and I knew it was only because of the fact that I was dressed differently than the usual people that they see over there.”