The Daily Post writing prompt for today is Fraud. I wasn’t planning on writing but it instantly grabbed my attention. What is the first thing I think of when I read the word fraud?
Fraud is my internal struggle.
This is a mountain of a topic to explore, but I’m just going to take it up to the first base camp: Expression.
I hated shopping for clothing for a long time. As a kid, it was easy because jeans and t-shirts were a pretty good standard for all genders. Being very much a tomboy, I was able to avoid skirts, dresses and frilly things. As I like to put it now, I don’t like floof. No floofy hair or clothing for me please.
Going into adulthood though was more challenging. Jeans and t-shirts, while practical for casual settings, weren’t cutting it for the more formal settings. How do I dress for work? How do I dress when I’m going out?
Trying to find women’s clothing that made me feel comfortable in my body was hell. Now don’t get me wrong, I love femme style. The shoes, scarves, colors and layers. It’s beautiful and wonderfully customizable. I admire women who pull off femme fashion well.
But when I attempt to wear it, I feel like a fraud. Like I’m trying to perform femininity but I’m clearly not an actor.
The number of times I’d get frustrated while shopping, pick out an outfit because I should look nice in it, bring it home and never wear it was way too high. Never mind the fact that I have broader than average shoulders and finding women’s shirts that actually fit my upper body is maddeningly difficult.
It wasn’t until more recently that I have started to reject the idea that I need to perform this femininity. Fear was a big reason I didn’t start changing my outward expression sooner. Society, in general, isn’t as kind to butch women, to masculine of center women. Society wraps up so much worth in women’s attractiveness to men. Short hair is not attractive on women. Muscular women aren’t attractive. It’s like if you’re not seeking to be attractive to men there is obviously something wrong with you.
When I first started shopping in the men’s section for shirts I had this back-up plan just in case I was ever confronted. As if someone was going to come up to me and say, “you don’t belong here.”
I’m just shopping for a present.
No one did approach me and I excitedly picked out a few cool patterned shirts (one with tacos even) and went to try them on. My first reaction was to text my friends a pretty excited change room selfie proclaiming, why haven’t I done this sooner! Fun patterns, shirts that fit my body and I don’t feel like a fraud looking at myself in the mirror.
I still feel this need to not be suspicious in the men’s section. But it is getting better.
In the end, the physical (yay shoulder and arm room) and emotional comfort that I get dressing in a more androgynous style far outweighs the fear of being criticized for being different. I’d much rather face the occasional criticism and misgendering than continually feeling like a fraud. Because by feeling truly and authentically me, I have more confidence to face those critics.
And the best part of all of this is that I don’t have to eschew femme style completely. There is no need to jump from one box into another. I enjoy makeup and love pairing dramatic eye makeup with a button down shirt and a bow tie. I also still love going totally glam and dressing up for a night out in a fun, bold club dress. I can take my favourite parts of femme style and my favourite parts of butch style and mash them all up into something that is truly me.
Take the best and ditch the rest!
Chemist by day, dodgeballer and photographer by night. Relationship anarchist and passionate Earper.