This is a big topic and I’m sure I’ll write about it many times over the tenure of this blog. Right now I want to start with the basics. I identify as a lesbian and I identify as GNC (gender non-conforming). Sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing, but I think I should talk about both in this post because both have influenced how I feel about my body.
My sexual orientation has a more subtle influence on how I perceive my body. These days, I am constantly wondering if I look “lesbian” enough. When I was growing up, I wanted to look straight because I was afraid of being gay. I wasn’t sure of my sexuality. I thought I was straight, but I also wished that I “could be” gay because I had a crush on my best (female) friend and I wanted to tell her, but I knew I was straight so the crush didn’t mean anything. It was complicated. Looking back, it’s fairly obvious that I was a terrified, closeted queer kid, but in the moment it was just scary to not know what I wanted and how to show that with my body.
At the same time I was wishing I was gay, I was trying my best to lean into what I thought of as straight femininity. I hated shaving my legs and sucked at putting on make-up and felt so uncomfortable in dresses, but I really tried. I thought I was just terrible at being a girl. And in a way I was, because I was pretending to be a certain type of girl that I wasn’t.
My ideal gender presentation is basically the style of a ten-year-old boy. It’s funny, but it’s also really true. If I could wear little button ups and straight leg khakis and hoodies and t-shirts with dinosaurs on them every day I would. I want to dress and be perceived as somewhere in between feminine and masculine, but definitely more towards the masc side.
There’s the rub, though. I have a very curvy, feminine body. I have big hips that no amount of low-slung straight-leg pant can hide. I have a curvy tummy and hold my fat like a woman holds her fat. I have a round, soft face. No matter what button ups and binders I try, people are going to instantly see “woman.” Which in itself wouldn’t bother me that much, but add on to that the extra layer of difficulty of finding gender-neutral or masc leaning clothes that fit a fat woman-shaped person, and it leads to many tears (at least in my case). I have a vision for how I want to dress my body, and it seems like so few people in the world are providing it.
Still, now that I know what I want, I don’t have to feel as awkward in my body when I walk down the street. Clothes I want are hard to find, but not impossible. I no longer just hide in hoodies and big jeans. I no longer hide behind my long hair. I’m starting to claim my identity and settle into my most comfortable style.