Easy Peesy

While out with the sis-in-law today (carrying the bags as she shopped), I got a lot of stares, quite a few ” Sirs”, and even overheard a few muttered epithets thrown in my direction. This is a common occurrence, as my appearance isn’t what people expect. And different often = bad or scary to some people. One comment in particular got to me: “Geez, why can’t she at least make an effort to look like a girl?” This made me think about how hard it is sometimes, being different.

“Do as I say.” “Listen to me.” “Obey.” “Life is easy, simple if you follow the rules.”

These and so many more platitudes and oversimplifications comprised the soundtrack of my youth. (Well, that and ” shut the door!” and “don’t sass me, missy!”). The theme being that I would have no questions, no strife, no unhappiness, if only I would conform.

God, how I longed to be able to do so!

But I was never a conforming child. Not in looks, mannerisms, preferences, thought processes. I was an odd duck from day one. Born late to unsuspecting parents and siblings who were all convinced the family-building phase was long finished, I began life on the wrong foot and never found the path to normal (wherever that is).

Some of my earliest memories include laments of my mother or brothers about my quirks, which were annoying or embarrassing to them. I vividly recall being sent home from Kindergarten with a note pinned to my shirt telling my mother that I was unprepared to be in school, as I couldn’t count or recite the alphabet. She immediately marched me back to school and demanded I demonstrate that, in fact, I could do all and more of what was expected. When questioned why I didn’t do so in class, I politely pointed out that I was not told to do so; rather, I was asked if I wished to do so and I didn’t at the time. (Literal and linear-minded even then.) I watched my mother’s face redden and her lips thin and her nostrils flair, and knew that I had again missed the ‘normal’ mark.

Even at 5, I knew I wasn’t like everyone else. I knew that I was somehow wrong, defective. And all my life growing up, as I heard those pleas for me to just do it normally, just be like so-and-so, I knew it was futile. I could never be normal.

I didn’t like what other girls liked. I didn’t want to eat or wear or play with the things other girls my age did. Every school clothes shopping trip, every Easter and Christmas portrait session, involved tears and threats of dire consequences if I didn’t “straighten up and act right” (which meant “put on the damn dress and quit crying about it”). By the time I was 12, my mother labeled me “her tomboy” in that defeated way mothers have and then gave up trying to force me into being and acting “like a lady”.

That didn’t stop me wanting to be what was expected, to be that perfect girl that would make my mom smile at her pretty clothes and prim manners and dainty features. I wanted that so badly I could taste it.

But even I could not deny that me in a dress was like putting a wig on a pig. I knew in my deepest heart that I could never become that girl, that woman. Beyond the clothes, I am the antithesis of ladylike. Big, lumbering, klutzy, rough-and-tumble, yes. Polite, considerate, fun loving, yes. Well behaved, studious, humble, yes. But genteel, refined, dainty, graceful, socially adept, comfortably outgoing and womanly? No and never.

So, I gave up any illusion of conformity. Instead, I resigned myself to being the odd one in any group and to hearing sighs of frustration from all feminine women (mother, relatives, shop keepers, nurses, etc.) who ever had to deal with my body, image, apparel or presentation.

As an adult, I’ve never looked back. I look like everything a woman isn’t. There is no femininity about my appearance, even when I wear a pink hoodie or purple tee shirt. I’ll always have a masculine appearance and energy that can’t be masked by fabric color, cut or trim.

Yet, this isn’t conscious bravery or rebellion against patriarchy. I simply am incapable of falsifying myself. As much as I have yearned to just fit in, I cannot compromise the integrity of my person, my truest self, for the sake of a societal norm. I feel a compulsion to present myself as naturally as possible, without artifice or guise. That leaves me looking plain on my best days, ugly on my worst, but always myself.

So, if conformity is the path to an easy life, I’m never going to know easy. That’s ok, I’m used to the hard way.

5 comments so far

  1. Victoria Oldham on

    I personally think one of the wonderful things about being a lesbian is that you can be appreciated for being exactly who you are. There are lots of women who truly appreciate a masculine of center woman and all she comes with.
    I think butch women are stunning. They’re strong, capable, and fiercely independent. I’m often in awe of the courage it takes to resist conformity and just be on the outside who they are on the inside.
    I have a blog called A Letter to the Butch in the Bathroom. You may be interested. 🙂

    • Searching4Self2013 on

      Hi. Thanks for commenting! Yes, I’ve read that post; it’s one of the loveliest I’ve read anywhere. This may sound like some of that false intimacy we were just discussing on your blog comments, but I was actually thinking of that post and your response to my very late comment on it, when writing this.

      Your butch-positive perspective is so refreshing and a welcome change from what I’ve experience daily all my adult life. Thanks for that. I hope to meet more folks with that appreciation as I venture farther out into this community.

  2. A Spare Mind on

    I absolutely adore this post. Not only is it of a subject matter that is very personal to me but your writing is dead on. Such gorgeous clarity–straight forward beauty. Loves. I’m so happy to have found you!

  3. Femmi on

    Thank goodness you don’t fit it. You’re all the more intriguing for it.

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