I have a small confession to make, and I hope you readers won't hate me for it: Yesterday, it occurred to me that it had been literally years since I put on anything traditionally associated with femininity. So I went to Nordstrom Rack, where I needed to drop by anyway, since I've been looking for a decently-priced pair of black dress shoes (ideally Eccos, my longtime favorite--more on dress shoes in a future post). As I was passing through the "ladies" section, it occurred to me that I could do a post on butch "cross-dressing" that might be kind of amusing. Glancing to my left and right to make sure that there weren't any other butches in the vicinity, I held my nose and jumped, Docs-first, into the ladies section. I picked out not one, but two femmy outfits: one dress, one skirt and poofy blouse. The dress was (ugh) pink, and had (ugh) lace on it (and don't even get me started about how ridiculous the sizing is in women's clothes), but bravely, I took it into the ladies' dressing room, ignoring the bewildered look on the face of the dressing room attendant.
I stripped off my collared shirt, Docs, white undershirt, and carpenter-style cords. I took a deep breath, trying to shake off my uncertainty. This was supposed to be an adventure, right? Once I figured out how to get the stupid zipper all the way down (it had to be the world's smallest zipper--are tiny fingers a prerequisite for being femme?!) I arranged the dress on the floor and stepped into it. I think I was supposed to put it over my head, but all that fabric seemed too intimidating and I was afraid I'd get lost. Wincing, I pulled it up over my butchy bod, closed my eyes, and reached around my back, somehow managing to pull the zipper all the way back up (thank you, yoga!).
The mirror was behind me at that point, so I turned around to see myself in what I assumed would be head-to-toe horror. Instead… to my great surprise… it looked awesome on me. No, it wasn't butch, but the dress fit super well, and the lace wasn't itchy at all (maybe because of how it was sewn or something--who knows). For the first time in a long time, I looked hot. Not queer-hot, but conventionally hot. "Hot" in a sense that would be recognized by the wider world. And you know what? That felt really damn good. I've been doing this whole "gender queer nonconformist" thing for so long that I forgot that it feels awesome to just be pretty. Wearing a dress means that people see me on the outside and think I look as good as I feel on the inside. And when it comes down to it, isn't this kind of interactive reality with other people more important than the reality we create in our own brains?
Now I have a larger confession: I bought the dress. Not only that, but I bought the other skirt-like outfit thing I had picked out (didn't even try on the latter--too intimidated by just being a butch in the dressing room). I'm stoked to wear these two things out and/or to work, because seriously--I look really pretty in them. And it feels indescribably good to look pretty, and to just fit in, for once. I don't know why I always made such a big deal of not wearing dresses before. Sure, they're not the most comfortable articles of clothing ever invented. But what's so great about a tie? When you think about it, it's like a noose around your neck. And since I see some level of discomfort as basically inevitable when I'm dressing up, why not choose the kind of discomfort that other people think actually looks nice?
What do you think about that, dear readers? Have you ever put on a dress? Don't you ever want to just stop looking "butch" and start looking pretty?
For a pic of me in the dress, neck-down, click here.