Playing dress up
A couple of days ago I ran into a friend at our local gaycafe when I stopped for a cup of tea on my way to work. She commented on how “fancy and dressed up” I looked. I had been wearing a fairly smashing outfit, however for me, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary – I dress like this for work every day. And I started thinking a little bit about why I love dressing up so much. For lots of people, wearing a shirt and tie is something they have to do – whether for an event, or for work, but isn’t something that they’d do with regularity if it could be avoided. For me dressing up brings a smile to my face every day, and I remember that I’m blessed to have the freedom to express myself any way I’d like -especially at my place of employment.
I guess it starts as a child. There are actually very few photos of me all dressed up outside from holidays and religious events – and when I was younger, it wasn’t a big deal – I remember this green velvety dress that I loved very much, in retrospect it was probably because it felt so good to touch it, and less about the dress itself. And I remember loving my patent leather Maryjanes that I loved as well, but I think that was because they were so shiny.
I found this photo this morning when looking for a shot of me in fancy dress as a teen (failed at that) but thought it interesting that this may be the butchest representation of my childhood available.
Yeah, it’s a skirt but hi, black socks and orange/pink/yellow sneakers – this looks like a kid ready for action – and I was. It probably took hours to get me down from that play structure. When I see pics like this it’s no doubt that I still like so many of the same things as I did as a kid (just wait for the casual shoes post) and why I’m so thankful that my parents let me do my own thing – for the most part.
Entering my pre-teen/teen years as a chubby girl made dressing up awful. I remember horrible fights in dressing rooms over what outfit I needed to wear to go to temple, or for weddings and family events. Shopping for a bat-mitzvah dress was particularly hard – I ended up in this black/white combo with a tight top and poofy crinoline bottom and I hated every minute of being in it, and the black pumps that went along with the outfit – feeling like I was going to topple over at any second. The dread of “finding something to wear” to a fancy event was something that terrified (and brought tears) me well into my twenties. Even after I came out buying “women’s suits” was horrible – they never looked right on my rough and tumble stocky boys body – with lack of butt and boobs to help fill out cuts also made for larger women – but with different bodies. Nothing ever fit me right.
And when I embraced my butchness, my masculinity, and started shopping in the men’s department? Everything clicked. It was a night and day transformation that started my journey along this path that right now has me here – trying to help educate (and learn from) other butches who have embraced their masculinity, and are learning how to navigate waters that we were never socialized to be sailing on.
It’s this kind of joy that I’m filled with every day when I select with great care and deliberateness the outfit that I’m going to wear to work or out on the town, or for special events. And it’s that kind of joy that I hope the work I’m doing here can bring to others.