Tags: body image, gender, gender role, Men in make-up, self-worth
I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while and slowly forming what I wanted to say and how to say it. The passing of Prince the other day was another devastating blow and a kick in the rear to embrace myself for who I am because there’s just precious little time to be happy and comfortable in your own skin. Bare with me as I jump all over the place with this. This is my process to fully figure out what I’m even thinking.
One of my biggest problems in life is labels. Labels we put on ourselves and labels society puts on us and labels we put on ourselves because of society.
I was OK with being called a tomboy as a kid but I guess I didn’t really think about it because my favorite character on TV (Laura Ingalls) was called a tomboy all the time. Thinking about it now I wonder why I was even called it. I didn’t like being outside much. I did play softball and basketball, however. Maybe it was because of that? Maybe it was because I didn’t care too much about make-up or how pretty my hair was even though I kept it long. Maybe it was because I was taller than everyone else my age.
I never felt like one of the girls. I crushed on all the boys, though. I can tell you the name of every boy I’ve ever had a crush on in grade school. The first boy was named Aaron. When the local newspaper took a photo of our kindergarten classes because of the quilts we made I’m not looking at the camera, I’m looking for where Aaron is in our group. I certainly chased after him in class at least once.
I still never felt accepted as a “girl”. I don’t think I thought of myself as a “girl”. I was born with girl bits, I knew that. But when I dreamed as a kid I had dreams of being part of a super hero family (I may have just had a precog moment about The Incredibles) but I was always seeing it through the dad’s eyes. I was always the father in these dreams. I’ve stopped having those set of dreams but I have definitely had more where I was the male character since then.
When I first watched The Labyrinth and saw how beautiful David Bowie was and that he was wearing make-up it was a huge eye-opening moment for me. When Prince’s music videos showed up on MTV I was blown away by another gorgeous man in make-up. Then I saw Tasha Yar on Star Trek:The Next Generation and saw a beautiful woman with short hair. I finally had started seeing some examples of gender that made sense and felt comfortable to me. I went out and had my first real short hair cut. I wanted to look like Tasha Yar so bad. I felt so much better with short hair. I felt more like me. I seem to keep forgetting that. I’ve had my hair long a lot over the years and now that I’ve found the style I really like I look back at pictures of me with long hair and I don’t even see me. I see someone who is lost. Someone who doesn’t feel comfortable inside their own self.
I see someone who’s trying to fit into the “girl” label.
Another label I’ve had a terrible time with is “wife”.
I always wanted to be married when I grew up. I knew I didn’t want to be like my mom and my aunts. I didn’t want to be the Susie homemaker. I didn’t want to be at the beck and call of the men in my life. I was so desperate to get rid of my maiden name because growing up my sis and I would refer to the women in the family as the *insert maiden name*-wives. (I’m trying to be nice here. They know who they are and some might read this. I love them, but their lives were not for me.) But now that I am married, and have been for ten years come June, 2016, I have struggled with the “wife” label so hard.
I hate housework and that made me feel worthless because it’s been so ingrained in me that I should do it whether I like to or not because I’m the wife.The guilt I’ve had over the years has eaten away at me. Add that to deciding not to have kids….
I had wanted kids, to be pregnant, to give birth, to teach a new generation. Only within the last 5 years has the decision been made not to have them. Before that I felt awful because I hadn’t become pregnant. We weren’t trying very hard but it seemed to come so easily to everyone else around me that I felt a failure as a wife, a daughter, and as a daughter-in-law. My inability to give grandchildren added another layer of guilt.
Now even though I am happy and comfortable with my/our choice to not have them I still get a quick sharp pang of jealousy when one friend is pregnant or another is pregnant for the nth time. Then I roll my eyes at myself and them and move on.
I started being interested in make-up a little when I was around 12-13. I wasn’t really allowed to wear it (except one time in grade school when my sis and I were snow white for Halloween). I was allowed to wear it to a dance one time but my mom didn’t know much about make-up as she wasn’t allowed to at all. My dad had done some make-up for theater in high school. I looked like I was ready for the theater as well. It wasn’t great. Thankfully the lights were down low. (Granted this was the dance where a boy had come up and told me that I had no rhythm and that caused me to rarely dance in public ever again.) I never asked any of my friends how to put on make-up. That’s not what we did. They wore it from time to time but I didn’t get into it more until high school and college.
I had come to a point where I enjoyed what I did eye-make-up-wise and then my husband told me I looked better without make-up. Instead of just taking it in stride or telling him to eff-off I let my stupid brain decide that meant I never could wear make-up again. (My brain is really good at making me do things to not offend anyone anymore at my own expense. Please see the last post about how I am much better about this now.) This wasn’t on my husband. This was on me. I made the choice. I then put that into the same basket of things that I wasn’t good enough for.
During my recent enlightenment about myself I also have realized that the main reason I ever thought it was okay for ME to wear make-up is because some beautiful men do. And if they can and look fabulous, then maybe I can be allowed to do it too. I always find myself wanting to look like the beautiful men in make-up or the beautiful women in make-up while in men’s clothes. Gackt and Mana (both male), Yoshizawa Hitomi (female), Tilda Swinton (female), Harry Shum Jr (male), and a few others have had quite the effect on me. Yes they are playing characters but not many people would have the guts or confidence to take on these roles if they were not secure in themselves. I place their genders just so you can see the roles being bent. Well, not bent. Just represented in a different way. I really think it is deliciously freeing to have everything both genders has to offer at your fingertips as a palette.
(Clearly none of these pictures are mine. Thank you Google.)
As you can tell the media is so important to me. I live inside TV and movies. I never saw myself in them at all. I still really don’t. When I was young and prepubescent I didn’t see many girls in shows that were tall. The only thing I remember was Sarah, Plain and Tall….. not exactly a nice thing to have rattling in your head. Girls in movies, cartoons and TV were always shorter than the boys. Always looking up to them and looking so fragile and I never felt I was allowed to be fragile. I was too tall to be fragile and needing to be taken care of. Or rather I didn’t feel worthy of being taken care of.
Then as puberty hit me with a brick and stole most of my metabolism and care for exerting myself I never saw myself in anything. If there was anyone overweight they were the short funny random girl who was a sidekick and only shown for about five minutes. I remember one of the first anime shows I watched had a group of school girls. One of them was tall and big. But they drew her like a giant man with masculine musculature. She sometimes had a high-pitched voice and sometimes a deep bass of a voice like the Hulk talking. I thought it was funny until I really thought about it.
The British show Miranda took on the awkwardness of being super tall while wanting to be feminine and shown as a fragile and worthy lady of attraction for the man of her dreams. She dealt with the same things I did as a kid there. If you were tall you were immediately cast as overweight.
Needless to say, I had many things telling me I didn’t fit, I was wrong, I didn’t deserve what everyone else deserved. The biggest influence, the biggest hater, the one who made it unbearable to live in this world from time to time was me.
So now, with my recent epiphany about my self-worth I have started to embrace the full me. I am not made from any mould. I can be feminine and I can be masculine. I can have hairy legs while wearing a short frilly dress. I can wear jeans and a tee-shirt with red lipstick and glitter eye shadow. I can wear a suit and tie while showing off my shape. I can be 5’11” and wear 4″ heels. I can have hairy pits and a mostly shaved head. I can be overweight and sexy. I can be me.
A long time ago when I tried to buy myself make-up I would get discouraged, just like when I went clothes shopping. I kept thinking that each color looked horrible on me, that nothing would ever match or work for me. What I realize now is that the colors were fine, the clothes were fine. The person I was trying to put them on was someone I didn’t like.
So I’ve been shocked by my change in view of myself. The first lipstick I put on in years looked great. The eye shadow I put on looked great. It wasn’t the color. I was pleased with the canvas. I found a worthy canvas.
I am worthy.
This may seem like small potatoes for some but I’m going to be 36 next month. 35 of my years I have spent thinking I was not good enough. Think of all the things that are younger than 35. 35 years is a damn long time.
Don’t worry if you’re not there yet. Some are lucky to become who they are in high school. Some discover themselves in college. Some knew it the second they were born. Some of us need time. Like wine and cheese. Delicious wine and delicious cheese. We take time to get it right.
I’m still in the early butterflys-in-the-stomach stage of the relationship with myself so I’m sorry (not sorry) about selfies on twitter. I think Me and Myself are really cute together and I hope they go far. They deserve it.
With finding myself comes some major changes. Life is finally coming together in many different ways and some changes need to happen.
Earlier I mentioned how desperate I was to get rid of my maiden name that I took on my husband’s name without letting my feminist side’s opinion be heard. I keep thinking of changing it and anytime I mention it to someone they say “you can still change it”.
So I’m going to.
Also, my first name. It was given to me before anyone knew who I was. The name Elizabeth has so many different ways it can be shortened, causing an infinite amount of personalities with those nick-names. I have become very good at being a different person to suit whomever I am around. I have had enough of that. It’s time to be me. There’s been a name I’ve always wished I had instead for a very long time.
So I will change it.
My middle name will stay the same because it is one I’ve always liked and it has a connection to my Aunt and other members of the family who have the same middle name.
The name change will be within the next year.
I’m not quite ready to have anyone call me the new name as I’m still figuring out who I am fully. I’m not even able to call myself it out loud just yet.
I just wanted to announce that it will happen.
I welcome questions if you have any. I’m becoming more of an open book as well.
I am worthy of being known by others as well as by myself.
You are too.
You, my friend, are awesome.
Men, put on your make-up. You’re beautiful.
Women, you be as feminine or as masculine as you want. You’re beautiful.