This Transgender Model Recreated Adam Levine's Nude Photo (& We Like It Better Than The Original)

Photo: Courtesy Of FTM Magazine.
Adam Levine's 2011 nude portrait for Cosmo UK was a shot seen round the world. Taken to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer, the photo featured Levine in nothing but his tattoos — with his sensitive areas covered by the manicured hands of his then-girlfriend, Anne Vyalitsyna. Four years later, model Aydian Dowling has done everyone a favor with his smoking-hot recreation of that iconic photo for the April issue of FTM Magazine. (Dowling's spoken for, as well — those are his wife Jenilee's hands shielding his crotch from the public eye.) Dowling posed to raise awareness for a different issue than Levine did, though: He's female-to-male transgender, and his goal is to increase visibility of the trans-masculine community.

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FTM Magazine founder and CEO, Jason Robert Ballard, who photographed Dowling, proposed the Levine-photo recreation to Dowling a few months before the shoot. Dowling agreed, though not without some trepidation. "I'm a pretty vulnerable guy, so I was a little nervous about it," Dowling shared with Metro. "I asked my wife how she would feel, and we thought the cause was better than the insecurity." If there is any insecurity in his portrait, we can't see it behind those triceps and blindingly green eyes. Dowling, who documented his transition on his YouTube channel, A Lion's Fears, says that the photo is a testament to his journey of physical self-actualization: "Some areas of my body used to remind me of everything I’m not," he explained in FTM. "Now, they represent everything I am."

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Body confidence in all forms is worth celebrating, and that confidence is particularly inspiring when it's hard-won. Of course, Dowling does still exemplify a traditional ideal of masculinity, which photographer Jason Ballard acknowledged to The Huffington Post: "We by no means mean to say that this is what all transgender males look like," Ballard clarified, "but this is what one of us looks like, and it's no different from our cisgender counterparts... We've had comments saying he doesn't look 'trans,' which brings up a great point — what does 'trans' even look like?"

The point here is not that Dowling has achieved a stereotypically attractive "male" appearance, but rather that he has aligned his exterior with his interior — which every individual should have the ability to do. We're also looking forward to a day when it isn't necessary to recreate the action of a cis celebrity to prove that the relationship between gender and appearance is more than meets the eye. Watch Dowling reflect on his viral portrait in the video below.

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