Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On being girly

I was a bit of a tom-boy as a girl. Not to an extreme, but certainly a little bit. I'm pretty sure my dad wanted a son instead of a daughter, so he taught me stuff he would have taught a boy. My mom very much wanted a little girl, so I was dressed up like a dolly while playing with my army men and pretending to hammer stuff.

I was encouraged to pursue endeavors characteristic of both genders. Wood and metal shop, which I thought made me a total bad-ass. And poetry and calligraphy, which was a little embarrassing (what with it being all girly) even though I secretly enjoyed writing crap about love with a really expensive pen. I learned mechanical stuff, practical things like how to change the oil in a car as well as sissy stuff like sewing and crocheting.

As a teenager, I shunned most things that I considered to be weak and overly feminine. I wore dresses, but only paired with combat boots. I didn't carry a purse, but had a wallet on a chain.

I wasn't allowed to wear makeup or use a curling iron. Hair spray and styling gel were strictly prohibited and my waist-length hair did not feel the heat of a blow-dryer until I was grown and out of the house.

(by the way, it is absolute fucking hell to have waist-length hair in the Pacific Northwest when your mom won't let you use a blow-dryer, you know what I'm saying?)

I had jobs in my teens and into my early twenties that didn't call for wearing fancy, dress-up clothes. Not really the dress-and-heels type, I gravitated toward the sort of work where jeans and boots were acceptable, even encouraged, attire. From dispatching at a towing company (where nearly every surface was covered in a fine film of motor oil and dirt) to physical labour (you try pushing a cart loaded with about 200 pounds of computer equipment in a dress, I dare you).

In my mind, "feminine" and "weak" were interchangeable. Being female and very, very tiny, people have often viewed me as helpless. Too short to do anything useful and too pretty to have a fully-functioning brain, I was often treated, by the people who didn't know me, as useless and stupid.

I hated being a girl and I was far too stubborn to be helpless. I ignored my femininity and worked to eradicate everything that I thought made me girly and sissified.

Overcoming that skewed perception of what it means to be feminine has been a big challenge for me. I have devoted a lot of energy towards correcting that skewed image and embracing that which is "feminine".

One of the things I have really enjoyed about being a girl in the past few years is make-up. I still prefer Doc Martens with my skirts most of the time, but I am rarely without my pretty face on.

So while window-shopping this weekend I found a perfectly-perfect make-up kit with 42 different eye shadows and oodles of lip glosses and things to make me shiny and glowy and rosey and I absolutely had to have it.

I wheedled and begged and pouted and pointed out how it's on sale and it's in pursuit of my spiritual practice until The Husband rolled his eyes and gave in.

See how I'm totally embracing my femininity?


Mantramine said...

stomping and pouting certainly has it's place. For me, it usually emerges around shoes. I might sell a child or two for the right shoe. I don't even know where this comes from... it's like a primal foot thing

mosey along said...

I too struggled with embracing my femininity. I still wear jeans and boots every day (mom uniform, oh dear), but every six weeks I get my brows shaped and tinted. I'm a girl.

Thanks for popping by!
(your post below about Twilight made me laugh and laugh and laugh....)

Jade said...

Mantra, there is nothing more satisfying than stomping one's foot imperiously while wearing a sexy pair of shoes. I share your primal foot 'thing'.

Mosey Along, it is nice to see you here, thanks for your comment!

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