Thursday, May 28, 2009

he said "it's all in your head" and I said "so's everything" but he didn't get it

For somebody who doesn't do a lot of the things that most girls seem to find necessary in order to go outside (makeup, eyebrow plucking, extreme moisturizing, etc.) I spend an awful lot of time worrying about clothing. If I'm feeling uncomfortable or stressed out it can take me a truly inordinate amount of time to decide what to wear, and I frequently end up feeling twitchy in whatever I finally picked out. On a good day, though, clothing can be amusing. I like to sometimes dress up one of the frilly girly dresses I've picked up at the local thrift store for two dollars and perhaps paint my toenails, maybe flounce a little bit. But really, I'm laughing the whole time, because it feels like pure artifice. I call it wearing girl drag or femme drag, and it amuses me enough that I look forward even more to the summer heat.

But lately I've been feeling a lot more androgynous than I'm accustomed to. It's another thing that I'm truly appreciating for the first time, it seems. In the past when I've felt the most androgynous I generally recall feeling fairly unsexy; I suspect this goes back to self-doubt and my (unspoken and unthought, until just now) fear that unless I'm flashing some gender signals I'm passing under most people's radars, attraction-wise or even just attention-wise. I can be so quiet sometimes that I worry about never making an impression at all. I'm what you might call petite, 5'6" and a hundred and ten pounds (according to surveys the ideal woman is 5'7" and 110, which I personally find hilarious), with medium brown shoulder-length hair and glasses. For years I wore mostly nondescript clothing and kept my hair very short, which might have worked for me if it had felt like sexy androgyny but in retrospect made me look somewhat like a nerdier-than-normal librarian but not in a particularly hot way. But now, with longer hair than I've had in years and summer around the corner, I feel strangely unhooked from some of my prior appearance hangups.

My hair is down to my shoulders, but it doesn't make me feel girly. It reminds me (this is kind of weird) of a photograph I saw of Oscar Wilde, seated with his hands gripping a cane, wearing rich heavy clothing and radiating a kind of casual sensuality, his dark hair waving slightly around his face. It's not that I resemble him but that I feel decadent somehow, with this luxury of hair that I can run my fingers through. I've also been paying attention to my walk, the long strides and casual swagger that I get when I'm covering ground, comfortable in my own body and its efficiency. I've been noticing a desire to wear clothing that doesn't scream "girl", that doesn't emphasize what little breast I have or cut too low. When I do, I feel even more exposed than normal. Which sometimes is fun, I'll admit. But not all the time.

None of these are big changes and I suspect that I actually don't appear different to outside viewers, but I can feel the difference in attitude they provoke within myself. I feel slightly cocky, confidant. I walk differently, with my hips leading more as I move, and I look people in the eye more often. It's hard to describe, but I don't feel like I'm taking on a masculine gender when I leave some of my femininity behind; I feel almost slightly ungendered or maybe like gender is just an incidental aspect of myself, and it feels good. The confidence and pleasure make me more confident emotionally and mentally, and I think people can tell. I feel full of some sort of energy or drive lately that is pushing me to reconsider some pretty large chunks of my personal self, and it makes me feel like I'm vibrating sometimes. I feel like I just need something, words or caresses or noise, to come out of me, to balance the life that's twirling around inside of me with what's going out into the world. I feel full of potential energy, just waiting to turn into action.

I'm still planning to be girly this summer. But I plan on being other things too. I want to be playful with my self-presentation, in my understated way. I think most of this is in my head, but it doesn't really matter if it is; the way people see and feel about me is directly related to how I see and feel about myself, and so even if the changes in myself are subtle they end up being reflected and amplified in my attitude, my confidence, my general feeling of well-being. My happiness. If I do the things that make me happy, everything else in my life gets better. Why did it take me so long to figure that out?


pulley-whipped said...

am i going crazy or did you post this yesterday?

Mugsie said...

Agreed and huzzah! Play with presentation is fun, when you're just doing it for yourself.
You ~do~ have Oscar Wilde hair! I can definitely see that! And oh! but that is such a glorious picture of him that you're referencing too.

Rosiecat said...

pulley-whipped, you might be going crazy regardless... ;-)

Ammie, I love this post! It makes me want to write about gender too, which is always a sign that I've read something inspiring. Girl drag! Hilarious!

Because you've been writing about gender lately, I've been thinking about it, and my most meaningful thought was this: when it comes to the people in my life with whom I am closest, their gender is much less important to me than I had realized. It's not that it doesn't matter or that it doesn't shape our relationship, but it's much less important than who they are as PEOPLE. Does that make any sense?