Mmmm, Femininity

Posted on March 8, 2011

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Most of my life, I was never interested in “girl stuff.” I was the first of my peers to physically mature, but they were off in the land of boys, makeup, and leg-shaving a long time before I was. Mostly, this was because I, like most adolescent girls, was painfully convinced that I was fat, ugly, and would die alone.  I was the class scapegoat for most of middle school (and since I had a class of about fifteen people, when everyone ignored you it was very noticeable), and I was convinced it was because I was fat.

Basically, I hated myself, like everyone does at that age. And because I hated myself, I barred myself from a lot of simple joys. In the four years between fourth and eighth grade, I remember only once feeling pretty. My mother took me to a hair salon, and my stylist (who had been cutting my hair since I was five) finally convinced me to cut my hair in a bob and pierce my ears. I still have those pictures somewhere. When I looked at them when I was a girl, I only saw how awkward I looked in the sweater I wore every day of school (yes, even when it was hot out). I didn’t see my body; I saw how different I looked from the thin, leggy girls I went to school with.

Now when I look at that picture, I realize it was a crying shame. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t cute in middle school. (Who is, really?) But that is the only picture I can think of where I honestly look happy in my own skin, and that is just sad. It was the only time I remember being happy to be a girl. The rest of the time, being a girl just meant I got picked on by the other girls and no guy would ever talk to me.

It wasn’t until I got into college that I really started dressing toward my body type and seeing that yes, I was fat, but that meant jack shit about my attractiveness. When I look in the mirror these days, I am always surprised by the woman looking back, because nine times out of ten she is pretty damn good looking. She stands up straight, she smiles at her reflection, and she wears clothes that reflect how much she cares about herself. And goddammit, she likes being a girl.

In that spirit, recently I bought a pair of dresses from Target. Neither of them are a perfect fit; I had to go a size higher than I would have liked because I’m pear-shaped, and the ones that fit me on top were just slightly too tight on the bottom. (Trust me, it took me a minute to get rid of the “Oh, God, I’m so fat” mantra and replace it with the proper one: “it’s not me, it’s the clothes.”) The ones I ended up buying do not fit me as well in the bust, and as such I have to dress them up a little to draw attention away from that. Under other circumstances, I never would have bought them because I am self-conscious about my chest as it is.

But. But. These dresses are so fabulously feminine. One of them is a classic house dress made out of feather-light cotton; the other is some light cotton/polyester hybrid that looks vaguely like something Audrey Hepburn would wear. They don’t fit me as well as they could, but by gum, when I wear them, I feel like a girl. And it is fabulous.

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Posted in: gender roles