Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tomboys & Tiaras

My ten-year-old self would laugh if I showed her a picture of me today. She would probably  say a sarcastic “yeah, right,” roll her eyes, and walk away in her supa cool Nike high tops (the ones that velcroed around the ankle). Or she would jog off, “boy” jean shorts hitting against her knees and her one-size-too-large Tazmanian Devil shirt (spinning a basketball on his finger in a tornado) flopping beneath her chin-length, blonde, short hair.
                Never did I think I would one day wear high heels, polka dot dresses and red lipstick.
                Even my high school, sandal-or-nothing, rashguard wearing self would have scoffed at the red hair.  Even up until my first two years of college, when I embraced feminism and switched out sandals for Doc Martens and board shorts for “guy” jeans and constantly preached the objectification of women as sexual objects, would I have never thought this is what I would see in the mirror. Curled hair? Eye liner? A BRA?!
                But, this is another taboo/misconception: that feminism equals a rejection of everything that has been traditionally defined as “feminine.” But just because I wear a skirt doesn’t mean my feminist ideals aren’t intact. I don’t wear high heels because I’ve been told they are what I have to wear to feel sexy or confident. The clothes I wear are ones I believe look good because I like the style. I like the way pencil skirts and sweetheart tops fit my body. I prefer red hair over my natural blonde. And, occasionally, it’s fun to do up the hair and look like a blast from the past.
                However, this is in large part because the gender I identify with happens to match my sex. I’m all for those females that have chosen to ditch the skirt and heels because they don’t identify with the stereotypical images of a “feminine” gender or they do believe those objects signify oppression from the past. For me, part of embracing the ultra-“feminine” is to help rewrite those significations. That wearing a dress doesn’t mean I can’t play in the dirt; that wearing heels doesn’t mean I’m delicate and vulnerable; that looking pretty doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent. It also helps to fight against that idea that once a woman becomes a mother she relinquishes her sexual identity (but more on that in a later post).
                What’s important to remember is that feminists take on many forms. There are as many forms physically as there are feminist philosophies.  Funk is a feminist and he has a penis! *gasp* When I bake delicious blueberry fudge vegan brownies in a red, ruffled apron it’s because it’s fun to play dress up (and I have a tendency to get flour everywhere); when I wear my Docs and a bandana around my head when I go shooting it’s because it’s fun to play dress up (and I sweat like crazy and want to protect my feet). Either way, I feel lucky to live in a time where gender is beginning to get rewritten, or at least there is a community where we are playing with the significations. My ten-year-old self, the one who played tackle football in the mud and played with My Little Ponies, who loved singing to The Little Mermaid and helped her dad with construction projects, would have understood that part.


  1. I think I'm going to just end up commenting on most of the posts for the hell of it, because it's snowing here at work and I have nothing to do anyway :)
    First off, I'm honored to know I've had some part in your second paragraph. Late nights laying around the RA apt watching the rain, listening to music, and talking through the messes we've made of our lives; all definitely were catalysts for breaking me away from my high school life and pushing me to explore and see who "I" was. And I think we turned out pretty well overall.
    As far as feminism regarding style, I think what better model of the strongest, most self-assured paradigm than the pinup! What other group of women in history could make a man weak with the flash of one garter or one pouty-lipped pose. And even enduring to style now, what would make heads turn more? Someone dolled up Betty Paige or Sandra Dee or Audrey, or someone with Daryl Hannah hair or Bo Derek braids.
    And rambling over ;)

  2. I love that you get snow days now!

    Yes, you definitely played a huge role in breaking out of what I thought I was "supoosed" to be based on high school and life under my parents' roofs

    And I agree. I really am all about the resignification, even the historical aspect where, in the 50's, since all the men were off to war, the women took over traditional male roles. Now, it took some time for it to stay that way, but I always think of Rosie the Riveter "Si, se puede!"