It made me think of how I view myself, and how society views me. This body has taken 23 years for me to come into, and it is safe to say that I am proud of it. When I was younger, I was awkward to say the least. I was a size 9 shoe by the time that I hit 6th grade – currently a women’s 14 in case you’re wondering. I was always one of the tallest in my class; I dwarfed the boys who I was supposed to be taking interest in (ha ha) and all of my girl friends had completely different bodies then I did. At sleepovers I watched along while they played dress up and put on makeup. I took more interest in their interest, in how suddenly they were transformed. I wanted to feel the same way, but I knew that high heels and mascara would not evoke those feelings.
The one thing that I always had was a sense of humor, which when you’re being teased about: A. Your foot size (my going nickname was Nina Projetski) B. Have thick glasses and C. Are rocking overalls and turtlenecks with no shame – is pretty fucking important. I knew that I could always make people laugh, for whatever reason I could always get along with girls. From an early age I learned how to flirt and get close to them. I could share my secrets with girls, and felt safety in their presence. Boys like men now, confused me. I wanted to be masculine but I wanted to do it in the presence of femininity.
In my early high school years I was pretty much walking the line between LA surfer chick and 90’s skater boy. Picture it. Do it. Let it happen. It was a beautiful marriage and I will not hear otherwise. But when my junior year rolled around I had pretty much no fucks to give. My home life was crumbling, and I had friends who supported the fact that I was a lesbian and dating girls. I cut off my hair to a shaggy “Shane” length which then graduated to a mohawk. By the time my freshman year of college rolled around I was presenting in a way that for the first time in my life made me feel like me
Since then I have progressively become more masculine. As I was exposed to more and more queer culture I realized that I what had been missing for me all along was a proper gender pronoun. I had never, not once in my life felt like a girl. I hated the attention I would get from men when I was in skirts, or presenting as a female, but when I was at home and saw myself in the mirror I was pleased. Clothing can do so much for a person, or at least my person. The way I dress today feels like the completion of the longest marathon. Two years ago when I shaved off my hair and looked at myself I felt so many pieces come together. For years when I looked in mirrors I saw a person that other people accepted this was the first time I was seeing myself. It broke my fucking heart.
Now back to this article, or rather what it made me think about; I personally don’t lead interactions with my looks, I lead with what I hope is seen as charm or my sense of humor. I lived for so long as an ugly duckling that I simply can not grasp that people like or approach me based on my looks. I am not naive enough to say that I don’t think I am some form of attractive, but I am not cocky enough to say that I base whether or not someone will interact with me because of my good looking (or whatever) face. When designers or photographers approach me for fashion shoots or shows I feel a combination of being both: totally caught off guard and feeling some form of justification. That feelings stems from all of the nights I cried myself to sleep as a preteen. For all of the bullies that I had to stand up to. For all of the boys who called me ugly. For all of the boyfriends that I didn’t have. Looks are not everything, but getting attention for something that for years I was convinced I would never have is a damn good feeling.