Some days, the Internet can be a really, really bad place for me. Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, photos and faces and articles flashing past as quickly as I want. Some days, I get sucked in. I read articles for hours, ogle more photos than I can count, open tabs upon tabs until I cannot fathom the amount of information I have on my screen. Some days, I look too hard.
I identify myself as queer. I've slowly come around to carrying that label, because it fits as well as any I've used, more so than lesbian or bisexual. It's open for interpretation, and I like that. It doesn't force me to make a decision, or force people to make a split-second decision about me the way I feel some other labels do. I have fluidity in my sexuality, and I've come to terms with that. I love my queer self, and I'm proud of me for who I am.
I also identify myself as female. I've never felt uncomfortable in my body. It may be that I'm incredibly lucky and privileged but I've always loved my body. I have strong rower's shoulders, muscular arms, rower's thighs, and the core of the equestrian I used to be. I have a Nike-swoosh scar on my face from a riding accident, calluses on my hands from oar handles, bike riding and rowing induced scars on my legs. One of my ankles locks up from an old injury, and I can't touch my toes. When I see myself naked, I'm proud. I've occasionally had bouts of thinking that other people don't find me attractive, but I've never felt like I had to change everything about me. Just occasionally overlooked.
Some days though, despite my solid grounding in my identity as a queer female, I feel inadequate. I'm fine with my naked body- hell, I'd wear less clothes during the summer if I could, it's too hot where I live. It's my clothed body that brings me down. I've been toying, picking, worrying at my gender presentation for a while. It's been hand in hand with the issue of my sexuality, but up until recently, it was a non-issue. I didn't know who I was, or how to present that person. Now that I have inner balance (most of the time), I've been struck by the problem of outer harmony. I've never been a girly-girl. I chopped my hair into a short, fauxhawk-ish thing over a year ago, and I've been dyeing it various colors for almost three years. My hair has allowed me to explore my appearance, and my confidence has grown a thousandfold because of my experimentation. I shook the first couple of times I went out in public with short hair, but eventually I got used to it and just embraced it as part of my overall changing identity.
Yesterday, I went to a fancy mother-daughter tea-thing at my school for graduating seniors. It was lovely, and I had a great time, despite less than high expectations. True to form, 99% of my class was in dresses or skirts and heels or nice flats. For me, a dress was not an option. For the past year, I've grown more and more attached to pants, button down shirts, ties, and blazers. So, true to form, I threw on a black and white checkered shirt, my black dress pants, my trusty Doc Marten boots, a blazer, and a skinny black silk tie. With my hair looking extra spiky and my tie perfectly knotted, I looked damn good. Or so I thought. When I got downstairs, my mother (who, by the way, has a Masters degree in Women's Studies and as a pretty radical feminist, should GET THIS) looks at me and goes, "Why aren't you wearing a skirt?"
I just looked at her. She's always been very accepting of my sexuality (even though I haven't *exactly* come out officially, but she definitely knows), so this was just kind of an unexpected blow. I know it wasn't her fault that she mentioned it at a bad time, but she brought me crashing down from the high I'd been on. I was so confident in how I looked, feeling really dapper, and suddenly that just... disappeared.
For the last twenty four hours, I've been brooding. I was home sick today, so I had ample amounts of time to distract myself with the internet. This proved to be a rather bad idea. Instead of a pick-me-up, I got a downer slipped to me by mistake. Each article I read, each photo I saw, made me question myself a little more. And each question brought up more bad feelings. I'm not unhappy with my physical body, but even so, this new sense of dysphoria made me feel extremely off center. I'm unhappy with my presentation. I'd love to have a more masculine of center, androgynous appearance. I want my jeans to skim my curves, not hug them, my shirts to show off my shoulders and not my breasts. I want to wear bowties and blazers and oxfords and cool sneakers and dress like a hipster boy and be a dapper queer and wear snapbacks, even though I look bad in hats. Almost everything in my closet feels... wrong, and that makes me sad. I don't feel very confident in myself anymore, and that makes me even more sad. I want my confidence back, my assurance in my queerness. I want to find my swagger.
Where do I look?