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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Bodies, Gender and Clothing

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Author Topic: Bodies, Gender and Clothing
moonlight bouncing off water
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Hey y'all,

I've been doing a lot of thinking about gender lately and about how my body relates to it, so I was wondering how other folk relate to their bodies in regards to their gender and the clothes they wear and how this does or does not conform to the expectations society places on you.

For example. I have breasts so the expectation is that I will wear a bra under clothes, cover up my breasts at the beach and absolutely not bind. But I prefer the opposite of all of those. (Except the beach thing-- despite it being legal here for me to go topless, at my parents' urgings I wear a top, this far anyway).

So, how does your body mesh with your gender? Does it feel like a match, or does it feel mismatched? (And by matched, I don't mean are you cis, I mean does it feel matched irrespective of whether or not society considers it a match).

How do you relate to clothes? Do you stick to one side of the store, or shop for clothes marketed to "both" genders?

What gender norms do you defy?

Thanks y'all, I will answer those questions myself but I don't want to colour anyone else's responses or make anyone think I'm looking for them to answer a certain way.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

Posts: 863 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Haleigh H
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This question has really got me thinking. When I was younger, probably in elementary school, I loved long shorts, baggy clothes, big t-shirts, high tops, and would wear jeans over a dress any day. Getting me dressed up (in a dress) for special occasions or holidays was a chore.

I think middle school is when I started to conform to gender stereotypes that dictate what a girl should wear. I became a lot more aware of my body in both positive and negative ways. I think it is this time when I focused on clothes that showed my body, tighter more form fitting clothes and I guess I haven't really questioned it since.

Here is the part that really has me thinking. As soon as I get home from work I get rid of my bra and underwear and put on loose, not so form fitting clothes. This is how I'm most comfortable. But if this is how I'm comfortable why don't I just dress like this all the time? I know it goes back to those gender stereotypes but why don't I smash them??

I'm going to have to think about this [Big Grin]

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Haleigh

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Patricia H
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Likewise to Haleigh, I was definitely opposed to wearing dresses and skirts or anything that I regarded as feminine in my grade school years. As I grew into my middle school and high school years, I had graduated into a staple of jeans, sneakers and/or flip-flops, a ratty t-shirt or a polo, and a beat-up cloth tote bag I carried around--kind of an androgynous look. It wasn't until I started dating men in college that I fully delved into expressing and embracing the feminine in me. I started wearing eyeliner, mini-skirts, sandals, dresses, rompers, you name it. And I haven't really looked back since. I still enjoy wearing jeans and t-shirts, but everything's now true to size, more fitted to accentuate my curves, and ever since I took up belly dancing, I take pleasure in accessorizing with jewelry, hair clips, etc. I'd be interested to see what my next stage in fashion (or lack thereof) and clothing will be in my later years, when my desire to look and feel attractively feminine is not as strong (assuming that it will change). Maybe I'll go back to that androgynous look, but a more refined one. I guess we'll just have to see.

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Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

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Cricket
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I wear a really wide range of clothing depending on the circumstances, but more feminine clothing pretty much always feels like drag to me, even though it's what's socially expected that I'll wear. I bind on occasion but I spend most of the year in such a hot area that the sweatiness and discomfort aren't always worth it for me. I don't like bras much and generally prefer either sports bras (since they flatten me a bit) or undershirts (because they give the security of an extra layer but aren't as gendered).

I shop almost exclusively in the men's or teen boy's departments in stores when I buy clothes new, except if I need sports bras or shoes, and then I go for the most gender-neutral/butch looking shoes I can find. I haven't seen a new swimsuit I liked in years, so I generally put together swimwear by scrounging for tops and bottoms separately at thrift stores. Currently I have a lovely pair of men's rainbow board shorts and a simple black top that looks basically like a sports bra.

In short, my clothing choices are very deeply tied to my gednerqueerness, and I'm usually wearing at least a few pieces of clothing that are not what society expects me to wear.

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Molias
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Around late elementary/early middle school when a lot of girls started to be more fashion-conscious, I decided that makeup and trendy clothes were dumb/conformist/etc. Some of this was my real opinion on the matter, I think. But another part was a very strong resentment on my part; I didn't really fit into a lot of the trendy clothes, and we couldn't afford to buy them.I had a lot of secret feelings that I didn't know how to do "girl" properly, but it didn't have anything to do with my own gender identity at the time. I still shopped in the juniors section, to be sure, but there were a lot of aspects of women's fashion I didn't understand or like.

Years later when I started questioning and exploring my gender identity, I spent a while mixing gendered clothes, but eventually wearing "drag" turned into "normal clothes" and I was wearing mostly men's jeans and t-shirts.
I couldn't bring myself to bind other than for special occasions because my work required physical activity and it was too hot to wear my stifling binder. So I tried layering an ancient sports bra and undershirt under another shirt or two, which... only sort of worked. Around that point, I started wearing only dark/neutral colors, I think as a desperate attempt to get other people to read my gender at least marginally correctly.

And now, in the past year or two I've slowly become someone who loves wearing bright colors, big earrings in my stretched lobes, and (most surprising of all, in a way) nail polish. I'm not sure how or when that happened, but it's a welcome change! My gender is kind of a floppy and ambiguous thing right now, and I'm not sure how I feel like my body and clothes fit into my identity exactly, but I'm feeling less constrained by how I or someone else might gender my clothes or accessories and am aiming for comfort and fun.

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OliveCon
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For clothes, i have a very wide range of things. For example, one day i could be wearing a pink frilly dress with pumps and dangly earrings, and the next i could be "binding" my chest (I have small boobs so all i need is a sports bra), wearing basketball shorts, and a loose shirt.

I used to think that I was gender-fluid, but I've come to realize that I do identify as an open female. I call myself a girl and people recognize me as one, but i dont really care if someone calls me a boy or whatever. People can call me whatever they please in terms of gender.

I wear swim trunks and a teeshirt at the beach/pool, cause i dont get in the water anyways.

But anyways, I def shop in both sides of the store, along with taking hand me downs from the older brother and my STRAIGHT boyfriend [Smile] As long as you're comfortable with what you wear, wear whatever you want!

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oneboikyle
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Personally, as a transguy, I police my own clothing way more than I want to, because the more it happens, the more important it is to me, to be read as male in the street.

If I was honest with myself, I wouldn't mind going back to some clothing marketed as female sometimes, for fun. Like Molias, I would love to paint my nails, and the only reason I don't, most of the time, is for the benefit of other people. Mostly, I enjoy the thought of women's clothes as a bit of fun; a jokey way to spend an evening, but not something I want to be serious about. Were I not so worried about passing, and had I not had to work so hard to be accepted as male, I would probably buy my clothes from wherever, even though I would probably still avoid frills.

I do have a sneaking suspicion that, once I start testosterone and get top surgery, I will become the most enthusiastic bad drag queen ever. There would be no mistaking me for a girl, and so I could wear a skirt and makeup, along with a full beard (hey, I can dream).

Edited to add: One thing that is very surprising to me, actually, is the fact that sometimes wearing men's clothes is actually more depressing to me than wearing a baggy female top, or nothing (in the privacy of my own home, where nobody can see me). The only reason I can think of to explain this is the way the clothes fit me. The fact that the men's clothes don't fit me the way they're supposed to is sometimes worse for me than having a big chest in the first place.

[ 07-10-2013, 07:01 PM: Message edited by: oneboikyle ]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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(Hey Kyle: wondering if when you have those tough moments with men's clothing, it might help to remember that there are plenty of cisguys where men's clothing on the whole, or any given piece, won't fit them right, either.

I certainly understand it's a bit different when you're not a cisguy, or when clothes not fitting is about something so often so gendered, like breasts or hips, but even there, too, there are cisguys with more breast tissue or wider hips than others, etc.

This isn't an attempt to magic those tough feelings away, as they're obviously bigger than this, but just might be something small to make them ever-so-slighty less hurty.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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