the body and the shopping trip

Recently my wife and I went on a shopping trip to get clothes. We went to the mall (cue ominous music and thunder). I have very low tolerance for shopping for anything, and shopping for clothes is has an especially unique way of getting under my skin.

I know I may not have the average desires when it comes to style, but I know for a fact that I am not the only AFAB fat person who wants to present as masc to androgynous and doesn’t have the time nor sewing skills to tailor every article of clothing I own. This trip was especially difficult because I was shopping for spring clothing. Wearing layers often helps create more of the illusion I’m looking for in terms of making my hips and bust less prominent. When it gets hot, layers aren’t really practical and I often end up settling for extremely casual pieces (aka men’s t-shirts) or slightly more masculine-cut women’s clothes (aka cotton button-ups).

I did a lot of mental preparing for this trip, telling myself that I would find some pieces that were okay and that would be fine. That’s essentially what happened. I’m not thrilled with what I got, but it’s close enough for what I can afford right now. One day, I hope I’ll be able to add tailoring to my budget and feel more comfortable in my clothes.

I did also order a bunch of “husky” sized boys clothes from Old Navy online. As I’ve mentioned before, if I could dress like a 10-year-old boy always, I’d be very happy. I got size Husky 18 (XXL). Boys clothes often fit me quite well in terms of length because I’m super short (5’2″), but I run into the usual problem you’d expect from clothes made for male shapes–no room for hips or bust. My arms are also big, so fit around the arms and shoulders can really make or break an article of clothing for me.

Fortunately, the Old Navy boys section did me well. I got a few shirts that fit really nicely, that are on the casual side but OK if I layer them up with a vest or cardigan for work. I also got one really cute button up that does work with my body. Another of the button ups I tried fit pretty well but didn’t sit right once it got to my hips, so that’s one for the return pile. Still four out of five is a pretty good sign and now I have some staples to tide me over for the summer.

 

 

the body and the wedding

Right now, I’m planning a wedding, and it’s super exciting but also rife with weird moments. Like, did you know it’s basically impossible to get a tailored, masculine-looking suit as a fat woman? Did you know that essentially every wedding planning site and book suggests a weight loss or training plan, especially for the bride? Did you know that traditions are so full of heteronormativity and fatphobia that it’s impossible to avoid, even when you think you’ve found someone understanding? I didn’t know before, but now I sure do.

I’m so excited to have a wedding with my wife. Yes, we are already married. When the US election went the way it did last year, we immediately decided to just go ahead and get legally married. We’d been engaged for 8 months by then anyway, so it wasn’t a sudden thing. Still, the election, plus me really needing better health insurance thanks to my injury, plus us really needing legal rights to each other for family reasons were factors in making us just go for the courthouse wedding. And it was lovely. My parents were there and my brother Skyped in. We wore matching bright orange converse and, as true lesbians, our dog was part of the ceremony. Here we are exchanging rings:

laura puts wedding ring on ilana while casey watches

So cute, so in love!

Still we really wanted to have a bigger wedding. Having friends and family affirm our marriage is really important to me because we need and want the support of our community as we grow our relationship. So we’re planning a wedding for next year.

Now, I love planning events. It such a satisfying thing to me to coordinate a bunch of things and have them all come together. But I’ve never planned anything as elaborate, as steeped in expectation, and as high-pressure as a wedding. This is the ultimate challenge.

Having a queer wedding is freeing in many ways because there’s not a lot of a tradition to uphold. Still, it’s frustrating when doing research to only see straight, white (mostly thin) couples in the stock photos. Queer websites often cater to gay men or femme lesbians who they assume are taking on the traditional role of planning a wedding. In our case, we’re both pretty androgynous to masc, and neither of us is interested in a fancy, large wedding. We just want people there to lend their support and love to what we think is a beautiful and lasting companionship.

We’re making it work in our own way, putting our priorities ahead of others’ expectations, and knowing at the end of the day what matters is our love.

 

the body and my queerness

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.