“Man, I Feel Like a Woman:” On “Femininity,” Part 1

For someone who dons a lot of dresses, goes ga-ga over my favorite jewelry guy’s stall, or simply kills time perusing clothing sites and blogs, this is going to read like such an odd statement: sometimes, I simply don’t feel “girly enough.” I don’t even know what that means or if that’s even the precise way to explain this sensation.

Where did that come from?

I was at the mall last Saturday (yay, Sephora store credit!), and for some reason, I kept thinking that I just didn’t fit, as if something wasn’t correlating between me — a biological female — and the atmosphere of the mall with every ideal of what a “woman” should be. Passing every store front ad with ladies who were lithe or decadent or voluptuous, but always radiant and alluring, it hit me that I wasn’t any of that. You can see from outfit posts that I’m not tiny — I’ll gladly tell you I’m a curvy size 12 — but that afternoon, I felt big and imposing. I felt manly, with my unmanicured hands and my messy, red hair. I felt underwhelming with my oily skin from all the humidity. I felt so basic in my jeans and flat sandals. Every model was perfectly dressed, heeled, coifed, prepped; I could tell they even smelled great based on these pictures. Then there was me.

I started to think,”if these women look so wonderful, and I don’t look like them, then everyone else around me must realize that I’m boorish!” My Sephora bag became a badge somehow, demonstrating just how “feminine” I was: “why, yes, I am a lady — do you want to see my Too Faced eyeshadow palette to prove it!?” It was a ridiculous thought, I know. But also one that’s at the core of marketing, no? Buy a type of product to become a type of persona.

I became defiant — of marketing and of my sour mood. I made myself march into stores that I’m usually not keen on anyway — J Crew, Fossil, Banana Republic — just to convince the mall-gods that, yes, I can go in these stores and not buy anything because, dammit, I don’t want to. But also to prove to myself that I shouldn’t be intimidated by being “not feminine enough” by some superficial, social standards. I forgot, at some point in the afternoon or maybe in my life, that advertising with “attractive” models isn’t about passing judgement as an end result, it’s about creating the desire to buy a physical item — be it through inciting feelings of inspiration, hope, jealousy, or even shame. If I could touch those objects and realize, “yeah, they’re all right but not for me,” then I could break this mindset.

Inevitably, I left feeling foolish.

It’s easy to forget self-worth when being stared down by images pointing out things we’re not: women with sleek figures and glowing skin or men with chiseled muscles and sultry stares. And every person — regardless of gender or sex — understands that. That’s why it’s so important to rally for who you are as an individual, to be your own cheerleader. I guess that’s why I started this little ole blog, now that think of it really: I’m throwing it out there in a public way that this is who I am, what I like, how I live, and, other than challenging myself to change and grow from within, I like it all that way.

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