Monday, June 1, 2009

"But You'd Look So Pretty If You Wore Makeup!"

I've been feeling very . . . attacked lately because of my gender and appearance. Quite honestly, I'm just not butch and I'm definitely not femme (dont' let those pictures at the top of the blog fool ya!). Much as I long to be one or the other or even the type of person who can wear each beautifully in turn, I'm always going to be slightly in the middle, never belonging fully to one camp and always borrowing bits and pieces from each. And I'm fairly okay with that. I'm being who I am.

But every once in a while someone does or says something that ticks me off, and this week they all seemed to happen at once, really weighing it on my mind and making me want to write them all down in a blog post. So, without further ado, here they are, after the jump:

* Going to get a new pair of glasses last week, the nice little old lady trying to pick out frames squinted at my face and said "I think maybe this time we should try something a little more feminine." I must have balked or made a face because she hastily amended "It's just that this pair is very unisex.", but the damage was already done. Feminine frames? Just what would that look like- pink and sparkly? Like a stubborn kid, I firmly set my jaw and determined to find the most masculine pair I could ("Do you have something in a hunter green, preferably with antlers?" . . . nah, just kidding). Luckily I went off and bought my glasses somewhere else, finding a couple of sylish new pairs that I feel good about, but the experience was a bit jarring to say the least.

* As we're watching some television, my dad spots some woman on the screen and asks, as he's wont to do, if she's a lesbian. He's always doing this, particularly if said lady is a bit butcher, and acts as though he's incredibly clever, to have connected masculine appearance with lesbianism. I have sighed so many times and Wikipedia'd the information, correcting him that no, said celebrity is married with three children, while he still raises his brow suspiciously. So he said it yet another time about some older actress I didn't know, and I bristled back with a "Why?", to which he responded "Well, she never wears any makeup!". That irked me to no end, and I instantly retorted "Neither do I!" (which, in retrospect, seems incredibly dangerous- that could have been one heck of an opener into a discussion about my sexual orientation). But his response instead was "Yeah, but you, like, paint your nails at least!". Correction- I paint my toenails red (never my fingernails, which are short, trim, and colorless, because I apparently am never careful enough with them for the polish to last prettily more than a day). I like it because that little splash of color makes me happy when I look at my piglets, and is far prettier in a pair of sandals than without. It's something I've done for forever, and it doesn't make me feel girly or feminine- quite the opposite, strong, flagrante, somehow. Not to mention I felt quite vindicated when I saw the quite butch Papi Cox of "In Search Of Wild Kingdom" with lovely red tonails, too. I didn't dare try to point all of this out to my papa- let him inhabit a world where painting your toenails makes you feminine and straight. But it still made me shake my head and sigh.

* Lately I've been working on growing out the hair on my head. I never style it (except to keep my relentless curly, wacky bangs in flatironed submission when they're really bad); it either hangs long around my face or is pulled back in a ponytail. I like it for a lot of reasons- I like the challenge of growing my hair out, of resisting to get it cut, of slowly watching it get longer and longer, and I love the way it feels (does that make me femme, to love running my hands through my hair?). I've always thought my long hair was a bit of a cover, a mainstream disguise. But yesterday a at a friend's party, my mother took a look at her pretty, short, elegantly styled hair and asked me why I didn't cut mine. I didn't take the time to remind her that my hair has been short before, layered, modeled after magazine pictures, and it never looks the way it did in those examples, because I don't style my hair- I want to wake up, brush, and go. I simply never want to have hair that makes you sadly say "No, no, roll up the car windows, I can't mess up my hair.". I didn't stop to tell her that cutting my hair like Bethany's wouldn't make me look like her- feminine, elegant, pretty, womanly. I didn't stop to point out that short, unstyled hair, compounded by my clothes, my weight, and my attitude, would only serve to scream "Dyke! Huge dyke!". I simply smiled and told her I was growing it out.

* A few days ago at work, the new secretary, decked out in hot pink, looked at me and asked if I was wearing pink eyeshadow (she was seeing her own outfit reflected in my glasses). I said no, and she went on to comment "But you would look really good if you ever decided to start wearing makeup!". I must have made another one of those faces, the surprised and disturbed ones that I can't even help, because she quickly threw in there: "I mean, it's okay- I didn't start wearing makeup unti I was 24." I nodded and fake smiled, but I'm sure she knew the damage was done. I just get so, so tired of people assuming that I don't know what makeup is. I'm sure they're picturing me rummaging through their handbags cavewoman-style grunting "What this tube red stuff?". Just because I don't wear makeup does not mean that I am in need of a makeover, that I am ignorant about that sort of thing. It's a choice, not a default. I recognize that if I took the time and effort, I could be more feminine, more "beautiful", and I wish more people would see my not doing that as a conscious choice, and stop trying to "save me from myself".

So yeah, that's it. It's not a lot, but somehow, coming one right after another, just seemed to compound the message being thrown at me- be more feminine!- and I feel chafed, caught in-between, even less able to reject these messages than if I were full-out butch. It sucks, to say the least :(.

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