Friday, November 19, 2010

In which I incoherently ramble on the topic of fashion


Fashion, to me, is kind of like a joke. A little white lie, with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Not to be taken at face value, and not at all seriously. I can’t explain this even nearly eloquently, but I’ll make an attempt:

One day, I woke up what appeared to be a completely transformed body. I went from a sort of boyish, straight up-and-down figure, to a curvy hourglass type contraption that confused the fuck out of me. I had round curvy bits bursting out all over the place, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t hide them. I started getting honked by cars walking to school. I felt disgusted and angry at this insidious body I saw before me. My old figure was how I felt on the inside – not especially female; plain and practical. It could be anything I wanted it to be. I felt trapped in my new body – absolutely and undeniably womanly, something I really didn’t want to be, nor did I feel I was. It screamed sexuality, which was mortifying. I discovered I had no control whatsoever over what my body did, which pissed me right off.

I ended up with a rather delightful eating disorder, pretty much inevitably considering my attitude towards my body at the time (that it was like another person, constantly teasing me, that I had to shut up). My eventual and slow recovery from this relied almost entirely on my rediscovered obsession with feminism. I decided Germaine Greer and Ariel Levy were my new bf4l’s, and annoyed everyone at school with my constant rambling on the media’s representations of women, and why do we always have to be small and passive? Why can’t we own our own sexuality, why are non-orthodox female bodies so intimidating to Men In Charge? Why are women defined by their appearance and not by their minds? Society is wrong wrong wrong, blah blah blah (I won a lot of friends this way, I’m sure you can tell).

Having come out of the tunnel of I-hate-my-body-I-want-to-die and into the sunshine of my-body-is-awesome-anyone-who-disagrees-is-a-dirty-misogynist, everything seemed to be rainbows and unicorns and happy lalalalala. I decided that every day was wonderful and exciting enough to get all dressed up. I started wearing pearls and lipstick, with everything. I wore pearls and lipstick with my baggy jeans and chucks. I wore pearls and lipstick with tracksuit pants.

Maybe because this seemed slightly at odds with my feminist obsession, or because I was aware that it was just an act, or because I realised it actually suited by curvy self better, or because it just seemed like fun at the time, or because of a million other reasons I actually didn’t give any thought, I decided it would be a hilarious little inside joke if I appropriated the style of a sparkly cupcake in all my sartorial efforts; mainly because it was the opposite of how I felt inside (I guess, essentially, androgynous). So I did, and it was fun. And it confused people, and that was fun.

It still confuses people, and it’s still fun, but sometimes it does get to pissing me off. Certain aspects of my master plan definitely backfired. Hyper-feminine doesn’t seem to fit into the genderfuck universe (although hyper-masculine does, apparently). This doesn’t make any sense to me, really… maybe it’s too drag queen-esque? But it’s still playing with gender, and people’s perceptions of it.

The other main source of my angst is that, it seems, next to no one (especially the dykiest of dykes, apparently) will believe you’re not straight when you look like a porcelain doll that’s come to life. This has lead me to be a bit shirty towards the ‘gay community’, as such. You wouldn’t have thought it’d be such an ~exclusive club~, but apparently so. This might be a bit of an unfair generalisation (and it's a whole different blog post, really), but it’s something I’ve felt a lot, and it seems horribly unfair, especially coming from where it does. Just last week, I was in the city and some people were handing out fliers for the gay marriage rally today (which I’d had in my calendar for months, but now can’t go because I have to work), and they took one look at me and didn’t hand me one (despite giving them out to pretty much every other person that walked past). Ummmmm okay then??? I might want to get married one day, too, you know. But I guess perhaps I have brought this on myself.

Andrea at Strangely Incoherent Love Letters did a really great post on similar themes (fashion and femininity), which is definitely worth a read.

I feel like I haven’t explained myself anywhere near perfectly, which annoys me, but tell me dear readers;
Do you dress to accurately reflect your personality? Or are you trying to be somewhat irritatingly subversive, like me? Or do you just not give a fuck?

5 comments:

  1. adiamondasbigastheritzNovember 19, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    Hi! I dropped by from VF.

    It's interesting to read your experiences in this post and the previous one, as I tend to dress in a 1950s influenced feminine way and also find that it influences way people treat me. It's quite interesting and often awkward when people make assumptions about my stance on issues from the way I dress (e.g. a few years ago at uni a very conservative candidate for a student party approached me saying that I OBVIOUSLY wasn't 'a lesbian, vegetarian feminist' and assumed that I would support his quest to shut down funding for the Queer and Women's Spaces - um, no. No I won't.).

    I sometimes find that I have some inner turmoil when it comes to reconciling my feminism and my personal style.

    A blogger I read sometimes has written some interesting posts about ironic feminine dressing and related issues.

    http://www.alreadypretty.com/2010/11/tradionally-feminine-dressing-as-irony.html

    http://www.alreadypretty.com/2010/09/how-can-we-reclaim-traditionally.html

    adiamondasbigastheritz from VF

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  2. I definitely know what you mean. It influences how people treat you a lot. And sometimes I do like surprising people when I open my mouth and am not what they expect, but sometimes it does get grating as well.

    Those were interesting posts too! Thanks :)

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  3. Oh, wow, parts of this sounded so familiar. I, too, had an eating disorder for a good part of my life, and feminist theory helped me pull myself out of my rut (although my BFF is Judith Butler, which I think sort of comes out in my post, I think! Germaine Greer is so many levels of awesome, though). Hope you're squarely on the 'recovered' side!

    And I know what you mean about people reading you as straight; I identify neither as straight nor lesbian nor bisexual — I fall in love with whomever I happen to fall in love with — but somehow femininity = heterosexuality in people's books. Very baffling. I get a bit of a buzz when people realise that I'm dating a girl and look surprised, though. (It does mean that I'm then recognised as a 'femme' lesbian, and I don't ascribe to those labels either.)

    Don't really have very much to add, just chiming in on things that really struck a chord.

    (By the by, I think you'll have a ball at uni ^^. There will always be some very conservative people saying some very strange things in your should-be-reflexive classes on gender/sexuality/etc., but you'll find some very like-minded people among them all and it's oh so worth it.)

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  4. great post. i particularly liked the bit which said that the gay community is an "exclusive club" because this matches many of my experiences with these people. they're always whining about people discriminating against them because of their sexuality... it's all a bit hypocritical if you ask me. I know it's bad to generalize, but you really struck a chord with me by touching on this issue in your post.

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  5. Oh my! Hi! another person who has dropped from the VF.

    I actually wrote a similar piece here: http://thekarakproject.blogspot.com/2010/05/real-l-word-soon-to-be-aired.html

    Which basically touches on what you have said in relation to the above. Even though I am Gay, I don't have many gay friends because of this. But knowing others feel the same, kind of makes me feel better.

    Great post xo

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