whatimages: ([gratia plena])
[personal profile] whatimages
I've been thinking a lot about gender recently; or rather, thinking about gender has recently become a fixture of my thought. But I've been thinking specifically about my gender, my aesthetic and my personality and the way these things interface.

I identify pretty strongly with/as femme and have been increasingly confident claiming that identity in the past year or so.. Femme to me is a purposeful adoption of characteristics that are seen as weak and less worthy and turning them into something awesome. To me this is a really important part of claiming my illness identity, of taking on a lot of gross stuff and incorporating it into a sense of myself that makes it not hurt. My femme is a sick femme. There's something physical about this that is beyond my control--my scar is right between my breasts; if you only glance at me it looks like I just have really deep cleavage. But on a second look you realize what's going on. It's both sexualizing and totally derailing of traditional sexual narratives or images. Which I love, and you can bet that I show it off pretty much constantly (I mean, it's unavoidable, but I am also inordinately fond of plunging v necks). My scars are awesome, and as the lady says, you can rock or you can leave.

So, femme. Femme is definitely a state of mind. But sometimes I have trouble expressing femme. Because I'm often super lazy, and I don't really connect to the goth/rockabilly/pinup style. I love skirts and skirts > pants forever. But I don't really care for pink or cupcakes or sparkles and I rarely wear heels and I cannot for the life of me figure out liquid eyeliner. I like blue/purple/green and black and grey. I love pencil skirts and skirts that are too short and the aforementioned plunging vneck. But also sometimes I just need to get the hell out of the damn house in the morning. I've discovered the energizing powers of awesome makeup, but in the grand scheme of things my makeup is pretty understated. That's the thing--I don't feel dramatic enough for femme sometimes. I like dissonance: I bought these combat-y boots from modcloth a couple months ago and they have barely left my feet. I love pairing them with pencil skirts or dresses. I like loud stompy footwear, whether that's boots or heels.

Another thing about femme that I am trying out at the moment is hair. I've always kept my hair pretty short; for a long time it was simply too dry to grow past about chin length. but for the past almost a year now I've been growing it out. First it started out of financial necessity; now I'm experimenting with it. Sometimes it annoys the everliving fuck out of me and it's definitely more difficult to manage. But I kind of like it? I like the profusion of curls. Sometimes it feels more like it's wearing me than I'm wearing it, but I think I'm going to keep the experiment going for now. The one thing that gives me pause is the way in which long hair is traditionally feminine and it's sort of expected that women will have long hair--and the way that long hair is definitely part of the standard hot girl package. You know? I feel like i'm explaining this poorly! For some reason this bothers me when doing other feminine expectation things do not. And like, maybe I should have a haircut that ~flatters my face shape~ or what have you, instead of this curl explosion. idk. Probably this will be a moot point in the summer because I will get too hot and cut it all off.

But about the "not dramatic enough" thing: at the same time, I'm always toning myself down. I reflexively reject outfits for being "too much"--too loud/bright/slutty/formal/weird. I love wearing dramatic lipstick but I rarely get the courage up to do it when I'm not Going Out. And this is where the personality thing comes in. My whole life my parents have told me to tone it the hell down. To not be so darn aggressive, to be nicer, to not be so freaking weird. Be nice or no one will like you. So I've been trying to sand down my rough edges and I can sort of get along in normalcy drag for a while these days, but dear god it chafes. God save me from fucking douchey hipster small talk. Can I be over that? Is that okay? I just don't want to be nice to everyone! I don't want to pretend to care about whatever my school acquaintances are expecting me to be impressed by, and I am 10000% over being the perfect golden child my parents can trot out to their WASP friends. It's hard to talk about this without sounding like a massive jerkass. It's not that I want liscence to go around being rude or mean to people--I am super into manners! But I also am kind of over pretending like I am not a huge weirdo queer nerd socialist sicko perv. And some people like that about me apparently!

I was hanging out with my friends the other night; they were giving me shit about something, I forget what. "But I'm a delicate flower!" I protested. my fren K's eyebrows climbed clear to her hairline. "A delicate venus flytrap, maybe," she said. And it felt hilarious and awesome and true. I felt accepted and appreciated and also kind of hot and awesome for the things I've always tried to tamp down or keep out of the public eye. She also said another very insightful thing about me a few weeks ago: "you're so used to freaking people out you don't know what to do when they like you." I've always felt so much social anxiety and awkwardness about my ability to playact normal, which is this reinforcing cycle. Like, I'm weird, no one will like me! Okay, act normal. Oh shit this feels weird and awkward and now i'm awkward. I'm awkward so no one will like me! etc etc. And then there's the moment of, oh geez I conned you into liking me and now you're going to realize I'm terrible. And it is only just occurring to me that maybe I can just let that shit go. Like I am maybe not terrible and doomed to a life of grilled cheeses of temporary toleration and eventual abandonment? I don't have to pretend normal; nor am I trapped being the sad weirdo left behind in the dust. I am gonna change the fuck out of this narrative.

(Also I'm not entirely sure where this attitude came from. Because I trust that M loves me because I am a big ole weirdo and my oldest friends have always stuck with me. But I'm inclined to lay this one at my parents' feet, as cliche as that is.(Seriously, my parents will go off on hour long tangents over dinner about how aggressive/rude/mean I am and how I need to be nicer and gentler. My sister was the one who pointed this pattern out to me and suggested that it was maybe not normal or okay. Now she shuts them down. ilher.) That and patriarchy would about cover it.)

So like, maybe fuck you I'm awesome is a valid life philosophy. I had a thought--last year I think after coming out of the nerd closet to a friend--that at some point i betrayed myself. I betrayed the 15 year old weirdo me my parents tried to tame by being ashamed of her, by trying to pretend she never was. Which, man, that was cruel. I deserve better than that from me.

Whenever I think I've transgressed some kind of social norm or have done something weird I have a moment of BLIND PANIC. Like, oh god was that thing I said/did not okay? am i now facing social ostracism? but like geez, whatever. I don't have to be a perfect paragon of WASPish appropriateness and self control! that is super boring and unfun. The important thing is paying attention to the boundaries of the people I'm actually interacting with, which are way easier to get a handle on and also to respect.

So anyway, femme. Maybe it's time for a little more weird in my life. Because I kind of am. I guess my femme aesthetic is sort of--queering WASP, maybe. Yes, that sounds right. Skirts and cardigans and tattoos and combat boots. Cleavage and scars and being inappropriate. The jcrew catalogue slutted up a little. Which is a great fall/winter aesthetic; summer is always such a pain for me, style-wise. because ugh, clothes in a million degree weather, fuck you. so much of my style is about structure and layering and summer is the antithesis of that. I want to think more deliberately about my summer wardrobe and actually carry my style through seasons more consistently. And to find a thing that is femme to me without always being super high maintenance so I can still do femme while being lazy. I need to find my femme. I think fundamentally femme is a state of mind or an approach but I also want to enact and present it.


OKAY THE END. This has been a post.

Date: 2012-03-28 02:07 am (UTC)
aquamirage: Kiki looking through a gate at a garden (you cannot answer you are a dragon)
From: [personal profile] aquamirage
I don't have anything useful to say but I really like this post and can relate to a bunch of it.

Date: 2012-03-28 07:55 am (UTC)
allchildren: kay eiffel's face meets the typewriter (☄ª hailing frequencies open)
From: [personal profile] allchildren
I ALSO RELATE TO SO MUCH OF THIS POST

I should probably un-privatize or repost that post I made about my gender last week, erggg

Date: 2012-03-28 10:22 am (UTC)
fahye: ([eyai] an enigma and a half)
From: [personal profile] fahye
fuck you I'm awesome is a valid life philosophy -- Absolutely! This is a cheering, energising post :)

I also gave up on mastering liquid eyeliner a long time ago. GEL EYELINER IS THE WAY FORWARD. Gel eyeliner and teensy stiff easily-controlled brushes. I save my cat's-eye liner for days when I need an extra layer of armour or a boost of confidence; I can't do bright lipstick or plunging necklines or nail polish or very high heels because, well, hospital, but liner is something I CAN do.

& keep me updated on your exploits with maintaining style through hot weather, it's something I have real problems with. Especially because English skin + Australian summers = MELANOMA CENTRAL, so even if I want to bare my skin it's...a really terrible idea.

Date: 2012-03-28 08:17 pm (UTC)
fahye: ([ss] must have been mistook)
From: [personal profile] fahye
Well, I am having a good time dressing up as much as possible within the bounds of conservative professional clothes. I try to wear skirts with nice patterns, or dresses/shirts in bright colours, and do nice eyeshadow or wear interesting jewellery. Luckily my personal style tends towards the elegant end of casual anyway, so there's a lot of overlap between what I wear to work and what I wear on weekends.

I would love to see outfit photos!

Date: 2012-03-28 09:22 pm (UTC)
trialia: River Song (Alex Kingston) drinking a cup of coffee. (Default)
From: [personal profile] trialia
Femme doesn't have to be dramatic. *gesturing* I'm a lot more femme-identified & comfy that way than I was when we first met in person - and for what it's worth, I think you carry off femme with short curls just fine; it suited you.

In short, if femme is what you feel you are, making it your own is AWESOME. I give anyone who disagrees with that some serious side-eye.

For my part, since I started living by myself I've sort of... settled into me, more. I like wearing skirts, though mostly long ones, and I don't shave my legs often (can't anyway!) and idgaf. I am what I am, whatever I feel I am - and so are you.

Date: 2012-03-29 07:01 am (UTC)
tropiavera: lily allen ([♪] cuz i lost my phone)
From: [personal profile] tropiavera
Ohhh my goodness, I also relate to this an awful lot! Last year I made "I do what I want" one of my new year's resolutions because I was so tired of my constant cycle of making myself feel guilty for doing things that I want because maybe it's inconveniencing someone, or it looks weird, or it is weird, and I AM TWENTY-SIX, I AM GOING TO DO WHAT I WANT TO NOW, THANK YOU. So I sympathize with that.

Also, as a fan of the jcrew catalogue generally, I would be highly interested in seeing the results of your experiments. For science.

Date: 2012-03-30 05:28 pm (UTC)
tropiavera: a woman x-rays her chest to display a heart ([❣] the heart is not coal)
From: [personal profile] tropiavera
No, for sure. I also think I'm somehow doing the reverse of your femme journey: I cut my hair short a few years ago, but lately I've been getting back into skirts and dresses for the first time since I was a teenager. Fashion! Who knows.

So expensive, and so not built for my hips. Or boobs. Sad day, jcrew.

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