A Hairy Situation

This post was the real start of my “Butch?…” post, but I knew it would be a while before I could get around to collecting my thoughts on it, and wanted to get that earlier one up, lest I have confused anybody.

(Of course, it seems I just confused people more. Sorry about that…)

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Hair is a tricky thing. I never thought it would be, but I’ve been surprised. I speak, of course, not of the hair on my head. But in other places – namely pits and legs.

Now, I won’t go saying that I was religious about shaving before; I’m lazy as the next person, letting my legs go during warmer winter months, and going as long as I comfortably could between pit shaves, year-round. But that level of comfort really wasn’t that high.

(Not to mention, I really love the feel of freshly shorn legs. Seriously – smooth skin is so soft and fantastic. Or perhaps those are just my sensory issues showing through.)

Point being, though I certainly never waxed, and perhaps didn’t shave as often as the next gal, keeping clean was important to me.

The question that came to me last fall, when I started thinking harder about all of this, was whether that was an issue with comfort and the length of hair, or whether it had to do with something else. The answer, as I suspected, was b. Like so much else I’ve considered during this time, my preference has less to do with comfort levels, and more to do with how I”m perceived. And, once again, it comes down to not wishing to be viewed as something I don’t consider myself.

(and a wee little bit to do with aesthetics. but just a wee bit.)

As appropriate or inappropriate as the generalizations may be, when I think of females with unshaven legs and pits, I think of lesbians. I think of hippies. I think of hippy lesbians.

And, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody has the right to express themselves in the ways they feel fit them.

But that just… doesn’t fit me. I’m definitely not a hippy. And I’m certainly not that type of crunchy granola lesbian that comes to mind when one things of such things. And yet here was another thing that, if I had given in to my inclination or laziness, would put me in that category. And I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So, as a sort of… I hesitate to say challenge, but as a way to figure out what my real feelings were about body hair, I stopped shaving altogether. Perhaps only a few weeks earlier than I would’ve stopped on my legs; it was somewhere in October, while I normally don’t stop until I’m done with shorts altogether for the season. But I usually shave my pits year-round, so that was more of a change. It was definitely an education, and an occasionally itchy one at that. But I learned something important: it’s not the hair that bothers me. At least not in the pits. (The leg hair hasn’t bothered me either, per se, but I do miss that smooth feel of leg against leg.) But I have to confess, it’s really been as it’s gotten warmer that the true realizations have been coming out. The ones mentioned above about the difference in how I’m viewed – or, at the very least, in how I view myself.

Whether it’s an aesthetic issue, whether it’s because it’s been ingrained in me by society, or whether it’s because of my own preconceived notions about stereotypes and what I do/don’t or should/shouldn’t look like to fit into them, I don’t like girly me with hair.

Me, hanging around the house in a manly tank-top, with hairy pits, absolutely. Me, going out in public in a manly tank-top with hairy pits – okay, that’s harder to say, between the breasts that never end, and the Italian in me that’s seen far too many swarthy men in tanks to feel comfortable with that. But the idea being that, if I looked less womanly, I’d be fine with it.

But as soon as I start to go through my wardrobe and pull out my girlier items of clothing, and more specifically, those girlier items that show leg or have little/no sleeve, I get uncomfortable. In part because I’m less comfortable in them (though, I suspect, more comfortable in them than many others, given my years of coming to terms), but also in very very large part due to self-consciousness about my body hair and what will show.

Ironically, I found myself considering tights much more often this past winter than in many years past, because of not wanting to show the hair on my legs. And I can’t much see that – or the shirt issue – changing. I could be wrong. Only time will tell.

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The deeper question here being, as always, can I get to a place where I look more manly – or at least, less womanly – without Drastic Measures? I don’t think so. But I honestly don’t know. In the meantime, I’m having trouble experimenting with what I feel like the me-I’m-meant-to-be would look like, because it’s not something that can be controlled with binders and clothes, with shaving and packers.

And as much as I really love some of the roads I’ve been travelling down the last several months, it’s sometimes really hard to see what I look like, say, in jeans and a dressy polo, in my minds’ eye, and then to look in the mirror, and see the girly, busty, figure looking back at me. Looking cute, perhaps, in that polo. But not looking how I’d like to look.

Whether it’s all in my head, or actually how society views it, I’m not sure how to get past this road block of not wanting to present as a butch, crunchy lesbian, when I’m not butch, crunchy, or lesbian.

Butch? No thanks.

After hitting “publish” on my last post, it occurred to me that a lot of what I wrote about feeling and expressing myself in a masculine way had to do with clothes.

And then I had a panic that “oh, oh no, the people who read this (all two of you) are going to think that my feelings about gender are only related to fashion and that’s so stuuuuuuuupid.”

So, um. Right.

Lest I need to put that out there – I know that clothes do not define gender.

Nor does dressing in a masculine manner make somebody a boy.

I know this.

However, for me, that is the bulk of my outward expression. Especially at this point in time, where I really can’t make myself look any more masculine, without actually going in for surgery (which is a tricky and complicated subject unto itself).

And here’s the trickier part – I don’t like looking “butch.” I mean, okay, the look in and of itself doesn’t bother me – I certainly enjoy it on other women, and have no problem with butch people in and of themselves. But I am not butch.

And I am, apparently (as I’ve learned digging deep into my psyche this last half year), really really bothered with the idea of looking like a butch lesbian.

Which, given that I’m an overweight biological woman, with a very large rack, who has a very very short haircut, and prefers to wear masculine clothing…

it’s bound to happen.

And I cringe at that.

Not for any reason related to what the look implies. Just because… it’s not me.

When I think of how I’d look, if I could create myself from scratch, even looking like a guy, it’s certainly not anything that would fall under the “butch” category. I definitely prefer, while not a “dapper” look, definitely a more clean, put-together, sort of metro look. Not suits and ties, necessarily, but …

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I am totally failing at bringing the thoughts from my head and putting them into words on the screen.

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The moral of the story, as it is, is that it’s hard for me, in this body, to find clothes that express me as ME. I can dress up as a woman, and look nice. I can wear men’s clothes, and look like a shlub. Or like a butch lesbian. Or a shlubby butch lesbian. And none of those things are me. I’m still floundering at a way to outwardly express how I feel like I’d like to look (with, you know, magic instant free & painless surgery, plus the effects of years of working out without having actually worked out), in a way that is at all feasible with this body.

So, now that I’ve muddied the waters up a bunch… that’s what I was trying to clarify. Good luck with that.

Who am I?

(well, currently I’m somebody trying really really hard to not finish that with “24601”)

Now that I’ve got 2 readers and 3 posts, I suppose I ought to give some sort of introduction.

I’d actually been putting it off until I’d thought of something for you guys to call me, but I’m at a loss. I use my given name initial in other places, but it doesn’t quite seem right. Not that I’m hiding who I am, but I’d rather this be a bit more private, at least for a while, and as likely or unlikely as it may be, I’d rather not connect this with my other online presences for the moment. Then I thought about the nickname for my given name that I prefer. Conveniently, it’s one that could be used for either gender, and it’s a good name. But that felt weird too. Because it’s part of a nickname my aunt gave me as a child? Because it feels weird to masculinize* my given name? I’m not sure.

And now it’s been a few months, and I haven’t been posting, so fuck it, I’ll let you guys know if I think of a name.

So. I’m, well. me. Ambigendrous for a name, for now. After trying to come up with a word for my brainspace, I stumbled upon that somewhere or else on the internet, and it stuck.

Going back to the video that was my first post over here, let’s see if we can’t make it simple. I abhor labels, but I love information and simplicity, so here goes nothing. I am a biological female, born that way. I identify as bisexual, only because I like boys and I like girls, and I hate all the words used to describe people who like other people (both romantically and sexually) without giving a shit what’s between their legs. I have a wife, to whom I’ve been married nearly 8 years, and she still puts up with me, so that’s something.

Gender’s the tricky part here, though. Going by that video, I’d say I’d place myself somewhere about…. here:

that orange mark is me. today, anyway.

Like with so much else in my life, I find myself sitting nearly exactly on the edge, occasionally veering to one side or the other.

In the case of my gender identity, I tend to consider myself more masculine than feminine (see this weekend’s post for more on that). But there are days that I consider myself more female; there are times I enjoy wearing dresses or painting my nails. These times tend to come about 3 times a year and pass pretty quickly, but they’re there. As for intensity, I feel it, but (again, like with most things in my life), I don’t feel it that strongly. Certainly I don’t feel painful enough in my masculine feelings that I, as many people do, suffer and hate my body. For that, I am thankful. Honestly, though, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt connected enough to my body to have those feelings. I walk around in it and carry it with me, but it’s never felt like it’s been mine.

When I was younger, I fought really hard against being a girl, or at the very least a typical girl. (That’s how I remember it, anyway. I’ve been too nervous to ask my mother how it read from the outside.) I hated the color pink with a passion, and the only times I played with dolls were when a friend and I would pretend they were having sex. As a pre-teen and teen, I got in big fights with my grandmother (who, thankfully, I didn’t see often) over my refusal to wear skirts or dresses, and my complete disinterest in make-up. She was horrified that I didn’t “dress like a girl.” Thankfully, my own mother never pushed her views, whatever they may have been, on me, and was happy to wear make-up or not, grow my hair out or chop it off, and to wear whatever I wanted, provided it was within budget and within the realm of decency.

(Granted, this meant a lot of truly unfortunate outfits in the early-mid 90’s, but what’re you going to do?)

Eventually, I did start dressing more feminine. Why? Not because I felt more feminine. But because I was sick of looking like a schlub. I wanted to look nice, and I knew that, even being overweight, I could look nice. Unfortunately, given the fact that my chest is rather well endowed, dressing in a way that looks nice (as opposed to looking like a stylized mumu) means wearing things that fit my body well. Which means, often (okay, pretty much always), more form-fitting and feminine clothes. I could – and probably will – write whole tomes on this, so I’ll leave it for now, and just go with: I realized that, perhaps, I was reaching a breaking point when I, well, broke, and nearly bit my co-worker’s head off when she complimented me on a girly outfit I was wearing. I suppose I’ll go into that more later, as well.

In the meantime, I’ve spent the last few months exploring what it is I can do to make myself more comfortable within that male side of me, while still recognizing what I want (to look decent) and need (to be true to myself, and figure out what the fuck really IS going on up there in my head), while working around my biggest obstacle (it’s difficult to truly express oneself outwardly as male or even ambigendrous, when one is carrying around a metric shit ton of breast tissue).

So, that’s me, now, in a (really really small) nutshell. More later on me, before, and how watching Being John Malkovich changed my life.

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*that’s totally a word

A Very Feminine Boy?

The question mark is not due to my own confusion, of that I assure you.

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Today, for the first time that I can ever remember, I was referred to as feminine. Not just feminine – VERY feminine.

I know, you’re all as shocked as I was. (Or perhaps not, as I only know of one reader, and anybody else who stumbles upon this place likely doesn’t know me. But that’s not the point.) I confess: I was taken aback. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with being feminine. It’s simply not a word that I’ve ever used in reference to myself, and certainly not a way I would have thought others thought of me. Even when I occasionally put nail polish on, or tights, and am willfully dressing more feminine, I certainly don’t feel that I exude a feminine vibe.

Now, I’ve known this woman for a while, but only see her occasionally, only through work circumstances, and while we are friendly, we are certainly not friends, or close. I wanted to ask her – why do you say that? (er, in general. not as a comment in the conversation – it was part of a larger conversation, in which the placement of the comment made sense.) What is it about me that, in the total ~2 hours we’ve spent together over the last 2.5 years, makes you think that I’m “very feminine?” I’m honestly curious. But it was busy, we were in a rush, and there were a lot of people about, so I didn’t pursue it further.

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Meanwhile, about half an hour earlier, I’d had another first. I was referred to as “he.”

Gigantic boobs aside, this one is at least a bit more understandable, as I’m sporting a super short haircut, and happen to be wearing a men’s polo today. When I turned and commented to the woman (I thought she had been referring to the young man on the other side of me), she was horribly embarrassed. I tried to reassure her – I didn’t mind. After all, I am dressing intentionally masculine (though it wasn’t a setting in which I could have said that). She blushed and mumbled apologies, and I made a quick exit.

When I was younger, I regularly wore more masculine clothes, and occasionally had a short haircut, and though I was referred to as many things, I wasn’t ever (that I can remember, at least) referred to as a male. And I’ve had this haircut for over a year now, and while I’ve been adding more bought-from-the-men’s-side-of-the-store items to my wardrobe, my style hasn’t changed. So why today? Who knows.

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I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, other than it was really kind of surreal to have two fairly polar opposite descriptions placed on me by others (as opposed to by myself – and I hesitate even to write ‘polar opposite,’ because that’s not true, and you can be a feminine man, but anyway) in such close proximity to one another.