Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Even if you changed everything, he would still recognise your chin..."

I recently went on a cybercrawl in search of matters to write about. I seemed to recall an article on a blog that discussed notions of femininity at length, particularly in respect of the appeal of the tiny waistline. I could scarcely recall the name of the blog, nor any coherent search terms associated with the post. But I did recall that the lady blogger featured a brilliant picture of Ceci n'est um pas pas, dbroon's brilliant reworking of Ceci n'est pas une pipe. By some interweb miracle, I found it. Gatochy's Blog. I don't think I have even found the original article yet, I am too mesmerized by the vast collection of pretty vintage illustrations, not to mention the varied and many posts that touch upon matters of taste, style and beauty, posed in a way that I had never really considered before.

Illustration by Almanaque Bertrand, circa 1934. Children on leashes, loveit.

Perhaps the most fascinating discovery of my cybercrawl was Mariana's reflections upon female gender-bending. Slightly subversive you would think, perhaps. But she managed to identify another reason why a woman would feel the need to adopt traditionally "masculine" characteristics. I thought it had nothing to do with me, but then I read the article.

I think people tend to see this kind of gender-bending playfulness as a PC wink to trans culture. [...] But I believe in some instances it may be not so much a men-hating based rejection of femininity, as an expression of feminine desire from a woman who is disappointed in herself.


The logic may be something along these lines: "I'll never get boys to notice me as a girl, because I can't compete with other women's feminine charms. The more feminine I try to be, the more I'll just be drawing attention to how lacking in the feminine department I truly am, like a monkey wearing makeup. Instead of trying in vain to emulate the kind of women I find attractive, I'll don the accoutrements of the kind of boys I find attractive. Wearing their skin feels more comfortable than wearing my own, and it puts my mind off the kind of women who only remind me of how unattractive I am in comparison.

I can't have my dream lover, but wearing his 'skin' is like incorporating him into my persona, grabbing possession of him. I'll be as close to him as it's likely I'll ever be. And who knows, maybe such a man may one day see me and interpret my 'look' as a message that I am from his 'tribe', that we are two of a feather, and he'll approach me, and say 'You are just like me, we belong with one another'."

Freddie Mercury by Mick Rock

Perhaps I'm terribly impressionable, but the first time I read that, I couldn't help but acknowledge that Mariana had described me with an eerie degree of accuracy. I don't consider myself a gender-bender, by any means. But long ago, I adopted all the stylistic hallmarks of a lover, who, for all intents and purposes, ruined me. Every misdeed and mistreatment has become ever so slightly blurred with the passing of time, but his uniform has influenced my personal style immeasurably. Everyone who knows me would recognise the boyish aesthetic: navy blue Bonds tshirt, black drainpipe jeans with a white belt, black leather boots and maybe even aviators, if I'm sitting in the sunshine. I wiped out any trace of femininity in my own personal iconography, simply because it's not what I perceive to be attractive. I never had the confidence to wear misshapen mustard-coloured vintage dresses made out of curtain material. It was his uniform that was attractive to me, because it was sexy and understated... and it somehow denoted the existence of a musical kindred spirit. The existence of someone who cares too much about that so-called "indie" musical subculture we've all sold our souls to.

In recent times, I have taken to wearing dresses and A-line skirts. They're usually hidden under trench coats, as I am too embarrassed to show my chest, hips, waist and/or arms. I am happier and more comfortable hiding in the cloak of the past, in the uniform of someone else. I have no doubts that such a stylistic appropriation is unhealthy, I would be the first to tell you that. I would also be the first to acknowledge my poor attitude and details of my self-loathing tendencies. No doubt it'd be packaged nicely, either in a leather bound journal or a PDF document. But, hell. I'm working on it. I'm working on seeing beyond the drainpipes and aviators and being happier and less hateful. I'm working upon developing something of my own, that doesn't embody the hateful figures of my past, but a hopeful representation of the person I want to become.

No comments:

Post a Comment