Multiple Gender Expressions: Identity and Representation in Digital and Physical Realm


  • Filippo Maria Disperati Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli"
  • Margherita Tufarelli Università degli Studi di Firenze
  • Leonardo Giliberti Università degli Studi di Firenze



Gender Identity, Digital, Performance, Gender-blender, Self-image making


The essay aims to explore the fluid and non-binary forms of body representation, self-image making and gender identities that are expressed through dress in digital culture. 
In fact, the use of fashion products makes the cultural system explicit and socially active through the construction of universes of values and everyday practices that help define individual identity as "belonging" to a complex system of cultural micro-worlds whose variety has a systemic impact on the conception and acceptance of the infinite possibilities of gender. Digital culture poses additional layers of complexity, proposing new norms and counter-norms that act in the sphere of influence between fashion and culture, altering, expanding and influencing the way fashion can be produced, remembered, communicated and known. In this framework, it is interesting to address the case of Ambrosia (Vincenzo D'Ambrosio, born in 1993), a performer and artist of the contemporary Italian scene, linked to fashion. Ambrosia seeks to intercept the now increasingly fluid and nonbinary forms of body representation, also tracing the historical roots of the Italian queer scene.


Ambrosia (@vdambrosio). “Ho indugiato sulle parole da scrivere.” Instagram, January 7, 2023.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernità liquida. Roma–Bari: Laterza, 2000.

Bruckman, S. Amy. “Gender swapping on the Internet.” In High noon on the electronic frontier: Conceptual issues in cyberspace, edited by Peter Ludlow, 317–326. Cambridge: MIT press, 1996.

Burgio, Giuseppe. “Desideri sconfinati. Sessualità migranti e frontiere culturali.” In Gender/genere. Contro vecchie e nuove esclusioni, edited by Margarethe Durst and Carla Roverselli, 15–36. Pisa: ETS, 2015.

Burgio, Giuseppe and Stella Rita Emmanuele. “Vendere virilità virtuale. Il corpo nel sex work on-line tra uomini.” MeTis-Mondi educativi. Temi indagini suggestioni, 12.2 (2022): 67 84.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York London: Routledge, 1990.

Butler, Judith. Undoing gender. London: Routledge, 2004.

Butler, Judith. “Gender as performance.” In A critical sense, 109–125. London: Routledge, 2013.

Casoni, Giorgio and Flaviano Celaschi. Human Body Design. Corpo e progetto nell’economia della trasformatività. Milano: Franco Angeli, 2020.

Chattopadhyay, Arka. “Androgyny in the Spectrum of Sexuality and Gender: Critical and Literary Possibilities.” In The Cult of The Androgyne: Reflections in Life and Literature, Art and Religion, 185–200. New Dehli: Authors Press, 2020.

Conte, Riccardo. “Scoprite la vostra femminilità e giocateci, intervista con Ambrosia.”, November 14, 2022.

Cover, Rob. “Performing and undoing identity online: Social networking, identity theories and the incompatibility of online profiles and friendship regimes.” Convergence, 18.2 (2012): 177–193.

Cover, Rob. Digital identities: Creating and communicating the online self. New York: Academic Press, 2015.

Cover, Rob. “Micro-minorities: The emergence of new sexual subjectivities, categories and labels among sexually-diverse youth online.” Youth sexualities: Public feelings and contemporary cultural politics, 1 (2018): 279–301.

Cover, Rob. “Competing contestations of the norm: emerging sexualities and digital identities.” Continuum, 33.5 (2019): 602–613.

Danet, Brenda. “Text as mask: gender, play and performance.” Cybersociety, 2 (1998): 129–158.

Davis, Fred. Fashion, culture, and identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Deleuze, Gilles. “Cinema 2: The Time-Image.” Continuum, 28 (2005).

Donath, S. Judith. “Identity and deception in the virtual community.” In Communities in cyberspace, edited by Peter Kollock and Marc A. Smith, 29–59. Routledge, London–New York, 1999.

Dorfles, Gillo. Mode & Modi. Milano: Edizioni Gabriele Mazzotta, 2010.

Fawcett, Hilary and Cheryl Buckley. Fashioning the Feminine: Representation and Women’s Fashion from the Fin de Siecle to the Present. London: IB Tauris, 2002.

Filippello, Roberto. “On Sequins and Shit: The Epistemology of Radial Dress in Mario Mieli’s Ttransexual Utopia.” Third Text, 35.1 (2021): 130–144.

Flanagan, Mary. Critical play: Radical game design. Cambridge: MIT press, 2009.

Francis, Tracy and Fernanda Hoefel. “‘True Gen’: Generation Z and its implications for companies.” McKinsey & Company (2018).

Harrell, D. Fox and Chong-U Lim. “Reimagining the avatar dream: Modeling social identity in digital media.” Communications of the ACM, 60.7 (2017): 50–61.

Jansson, André. “Mediatization as a framework for social design: For a better life with media.” Design and Culture, 10.3 (2018): 233–252.

Klimmt, Cristoph, Dorothée Hefner and Peter Vorderer. “The Video Game Experience as ‘True’ Identification: A Theory of Enjoyable Alterations of Players’ Self-Perception.” Communication Theory, 19.4 (2009): 351–373.

Kollock, Peter and Marc Smith. Communities in cyberspace. Routledge: London–New York, 1999.

Lupo, Eleonora. “Design e Cultural driven innovation.” i+ Diseño. Revista científico-académica internacional de innovación, investigación y desarrollo en Diseño, 14 (2019): 120–132.

Manovich, Lev. “What is new media.” The language of new media, 6 (2001): 1–15.

Martey, M. Rosa and Mia Consalvo. “Performing the Looking-Glass Self: Avatar Appearance and Group Identity in Second Life.” Popular Communication, 9.3 (2011): 165–180.

McDowell, Maghan. “Digital people and virtual spaces invite unlimited options for self-expression. That also means that brands should explore representation more carefully.” Vogue Business, September 28, 2021.

Mieli, Mario. ​Elementi di critica omosessuale. Milano: Giacomo Feltrinelli Editore Milano, 2002.

Molesworth, Mike and Rebecca D. Watkins. “Adult videogame consumption as individualised, episodic progress.” Journal of Consumer Culture, 16.2 (2014).

Muñoz, E. José.​ Cruising Utopia. Roma: Nero, 2022.

Newzoo. “The destination for gamers market insight.” Report, June 19, 2019.

Oram, Alison. “Cross-dressing and Transgender.” In Palgrave advances in the modern history of sexuality, 256–285. New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2006.

Panarese, Paola, Stefania Paris and Francesca Comunello. “Abitare gli spazi digitali: prospettive di genere su immaginari, estetiche e pratiche culturali in rete.” Mediascapes journal, 18 (2021): 3–15.

Papahristou, Evridiki and Nikolaos Bilalis. “Should the fashion industry confront the sustainability challenge with 3D prototyping technology.” International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 10.4–5 (2017): 207–214.

Pentecoste, Nicola. “Goffman rewind: La presentazione del self nel quotidiano digitale.” Mediascapes journal, 2 (2013): 106–118.

Pini, Andrea. ​Quando eravamo froci. Milano: il Saggiatore, 2011.

Rocamora, Agnès. “Mediatization and digital media in the field of fashion.” Fashion Theory, 21.5 (2017): 505–522.

Roverselli, Carla. “Governare l’educazione delle donne: Fatema Mernissi, una critica postcoloniale.” In Gender/genere. Controvecchie e nuove esclusioni, 143–163. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2015.

Shields, Rob. The virtual. London: Routledge, 2005.

Suchman, Mark. “Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches.” Academy of Management Review, 20 (1995): 571–611.

Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1996.

Van Doorn, Niels. “Digital spaces, material traces: How matter comes to matter in online performances of gender, sexuality and embodiment.” Media, Culture & Society, 33.4 (2011): 531–547.

Vicente, V. Marta. “Transgender: A Useful Category? Or, How the Historical Study of ‘Transsexual’ and ‘Transvestite’ Can Help Us Rethink ‘Transgender’ as a Category.” Transgender Studies Quarterly, 8.4 (2021): 426–442.

Warfield, Katie. “Digital Subjectivities and Selfies: The Model, the Self-Conscious Thespian, and the #Realme.” International Journal of the Image, 6.2 (2015).

Westecott, Emma. “Independent game development as craft.” The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association, 7.11 (2013): 78–91.

Wynne, Ellen, William Wright and Donna Alvermann. “Creating Gaps in Understanding: How Gen Z Disrupts Gender Norms on TikTok.” The International Journal of Critical Media Literacy, 3.1 (2021): 1–23.

Yee, Nick. 7 Things We Learned About Primary Gaming Motivations From Over 250,000 Gamers. Quantic Foundry, December 15, 2016.




How to Cite

Disperati, F. M., Tufarelli, M., & Giliberti, L. (2023). Multiple Gender Expressions: Identity and Representation in Digital and Physical Realm. ZoneModa Journal, 13(1), 19–31.