Hello, fine readers!
I love the feeling where I look in the mirror and I look great. It’s such a confidence boost. My favorite times are when I feel at home in my own skin.
It’s taken a very long time to get here. I dressed how I thought suited me best for most of my life. This involved lots of dresses and skirts and makeup. Some women in my life steered me towards makeup and told me that I looked best with it, but it was rarely a consistent thing in my life because it took too much time and I largely saw applying it as a chore rather than an art. I felt confident when I wore it, but it seemed false. I constantly had to check in the mirror to see if something was out of place, and if anything was, my mood was wrecked until I could fix or remove it.
It soon seemed like if I presented myself in this way consistently, I could get what I wanted. People would like me. Boys would like me. This paired with “toning down” my personality won me a bit of attention in high school, but it wasn’t me. I realized that it was false then, and it remains as false as trying to appear more masculine to this day. I’m not quiet, I’m not meek, I’m not normal, and no possibility of embarrassment can change that. To strip me of those is to take away parts of me. So I ditched this plan. As much as the prospect of finding a mate in high school or even college was at least in hindsight appealing, it was never worth cutting out parts of myself.
It took me awhile to learn that, but it really happened in the second semester of my sophomore year of college. I had found friends who accepted me and helped rid me of most of my inhibitions. I thought deeply about who I was and began to question my gender and my body as a result. I came to the possibly skewed conclusion that I hated my body because I could use it as a weapon, and therefore it should be minimized.
By “weapon”, I meant that I could use my body to get what I want. The people who courted me later in the year were quite taken with it, much to my surprise and semi-disgust. I felt that they only liked me for my body at times. I could get what I wanted with them, and that repulsed me. So I joined a Facebook group for people identifying as nonbinary and learned. I started identifying as nonbinary myself. But it still didn’t feel like me. Something crucial was missing, and I didn’t know what it was. I started wearing vests and pants to our Mormon church services, but in hindsight it felt more like rebellion than self-expression. I was lost and depressed.
It wasn’t until I got back on regular meds that I felt okay again. I still felt like a weapon until I was reunited with my husband, who didn’t even mention admiring my physical form except in passing until a few months after we started dating. It was a breath of fresh air, and I loved him for it.He was on a different level. He wasn’t a boy, I had found a man. I felt naturally loved for the first time. By naturally loved, I mean that I didn’t have to force my way into his life, I was myself. He was himself. We fell in love without playing games or holding ourselves back to keep each other around. He encouraged me to be myself. He didn’t like makeup, which was a relief. I didn’t have to put on airs, I was beautiful as I was and he let me know that.
Still I was not comfortable in my own skin. I felt ugly for being fat and hated my large chest. It wasn’t until I dressed in a button down, dress slacks, and boots that I got a glimpse into what it felt to dress like myself. It wasn’t flashy, it was simple. Most importantly, I think, it was neutral while still looking good, and that was what I had been looking for that long while ago. It was on that day that I like to say that my gender identity walked away. I became unattached to being labelled as any gender. I was simultaneously everything and nothing. It was one of the most freeing experiences of my life to date.
I didn’t attempt to dress like myself for another few months and told no one of my epiphany. The free feeling began to grow once I got to Alaska, and I told my best friend first. Then I told others.
One night, my husband and I were talking about what it meant to dress like ourselves and we started tossing around ideas. The conclusion we came to was that I should wear ball gowns. We couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dysphoria struck yet again, and it proved everyone wrong. While trying to assess the situation and do damage control, I put on the same button down and slacks as I had worn so many months ago. I felt like myself again. One thing was missing, however. A bolo tie.
I ordered one and started making others for myself in the meantime. They completed my look. I embraced it, and after a few days I started posting selfies like mad on Facebook. I call it Western business casual.
As for identity, I wrote in my very first post on this blog that I closely identify as agender, and I’m proud of that.
Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet! Keep experimenting and going through life. Let the events of your life shape your style.