no more boy shorts and big white Keds.

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Pearl’s story on Homeschoolers Anonymous  really resonated with me, and I know I’m not alone. I’m sure lots of you have had the same experience I had: after years of getting told that the “girly” outfits you wanted to wear were “immodest,” “revealing,” and “inappropriate”, you just gave up and went butch, with lots of baggy boy shorts and shapeless sweatsuits. (Which is fine if that’s what you’re into – but I know that look wasn’t me.) Wireless cloth bras, hand-me-down underwear and a ban on perfume, makeup and hair products probably played a part in your systematic de-feminization. Eventually – if your experience was like mine – you became so disconnected from your body that you hardly felt like a person anymore, let alone a girl.

It took some cataclysmic life events – a failed courtship, starting a business, moving out of my parents’ house and eventually out of state, and meeting a supportive partner – to give me some distance and perspective on my homeschool years. Along the way, by trial and error, I’ve slowly been figuring out how to become a girl again. At 26, I finally feel more at home in my skin. Here are some of the things that helped me – maybe they’ll help somebody else, too.

Read drag websites. I’m not even kidding. They’re full of helpful information on how to walk, talk, dress and act in order to “pass” as a female. Granted, some of it’s a little over the top – skip their make-up tips, for instance. But I remember how astonished I was when I discovered that somebody had actually written reams of detailed instructions for presenting as a lady. It felt like Christmas.

Reclaim the skirt. It took me the longest time to figure out that dresses are not a badge of shame! Big jean jumpers and long khaki skirts are not the only option. Skirts are supposed to make you feel pretty and sexy, and if they’re not doing that, then they’re not doing their job. Swishy maxi dresses, cute cocktail dresses and tailored pencil skirts are incredibly fun to wear. So are heels. They are designed to make your legs longer and that’s a GOOD thing!

Have some little signature “girly” thing that you do or wear all the time. Or more than one! For me, it was getting my ears pierced and always wearing earrings. Having a little pair of sparkly studs in your ears all the time really does make you feel more feminine. I gradually added in other things and now I always have on earrings, toenail polish, a silver ankle bracelet and a little bit of perfume. It makes me feel pretty.

Practice showing a different bit of skin at a time. I remember the first time I tried to walk outside my apartment in shorts and a tank top, “cold turkey.” Bad idea – I felt completely naked. After a while, I figured out that I could ease into it if I only uncovered one area at a time. If I had on shorts, I wore a big, loose t-shirt. I paired tank tops with long cargo shorts or capris. Eventually, I just got used to having various parts of me out in the sunshine and I didn’t mind anymore. (Shocker – nobody ogled me and drooled with lust, either.)

Go and get an actual bra fitting at Victoria’s Secret. And then get some lovely lingerie that fits. I am ashamed to say that I could not actually make myself do this until I was 25 years old. They’re totally nice. All you do is lift your arms, and they run a tape around your bust and tell you what size you are, and then give you some sample bras to go try on in the fitting room. It’s not embarrassing at all… nothing like bra shopping for “appropriate” underwear with your mother. (P.S.: You may be surprised by your bra size! For years and years, I assumed I was an A or a B cup, and figured bras were supposed to squash me in and feel uncomfortable. Guess what? I’m a D.)

Have bottles of nice stuff in your shower, and use them. I wish someone had told me that I needed to put SHAMPOO and CONDITIONER in my hair, and use SHOWER GEL and BODY BUTTER on the rest of me. (When I was a kid, we used this weird organic shampoo/soap called “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap” where every square inch of the label was covered with manic stream-of-consciousness meanderings in TINY print. It was an entertaining reading experience but as far as soap went, it wasn’t awesome.) The Warm Vanilla Sugar stuff from Bath and Body Works is awesome, though. So is the Moonlight Path (lavender) and the Japanese Cherry Blossom.

Drink wine in the bathtub and listen to jazz. It completely makes you feel like a movie star.

Dance all by yourself. Put on your favorite music and move with it. Learn to feel the evil jungle beat that kills all the plants. Feel how your body is all connected together, how it’s a physical, material being, how it moves through space, how it responds so beautifully to touch and sound. You are designed to be a beautiful, corporeal being, not a disconnected intelligence trapped in a useless body.

That’s really the most important thing: You are beautiful. You just need to know it, and feel it, and own it. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “no more boy shorts and big white Keds.

  1. This could not have been better timing. I am currently in the process of updating my wardrobe! Everything you wrote above resonates with me. I am so excited to find there are others going through the same thing! Please keep on writing – I’ll read everything 🙂

    • aw thank you!! I bet a lot of us are probably going through the same process right now: in wardrobe terms, it’s like the de-Stalinization of Russia, isn’t it? What are your tips? TELL ME, I MUST KNOW.

  2. Ha ha it sure is! I must say, each day and each shopping trip I am more amazed with what you can do with clothes. It is actually a lot of fun to dress up – or just wear a new style. Some things I’ve found helpful – reading fashion magazines (of course it’s all photo shopped and whatever, but you can get good ideas, see what goes together, and what other people are wearing) ‘window shop’ and see what they have on the mannequins, and think about your body type – but don’t just wear what you think you should. For example, I used to think that I had bad legs and that they should be hidden under long skirts, but now I wear short skirts a lot of the time. Once my housemate convinced me to actually try some on, my mind was changed. It’s all about trying new things. Don’t just go for things that are traditionally ‘pretty’ either. I’ve noticed that there is a lot of emphasis in Fundamental circles on women and girls looking ‘pretty’. Well I’m sorry, but I’m not nine years old any more. A wardrobe consisting of florals and ribbons is not going to cut it. Wearing contrasting pieces can be really effective! Think leather shorts / soft knitted sweater. Or high heeled boots and a lacy dress. You can’t go wrong as long as you’re having fun.
    Looking forward to reading more of your adventures 🙂

    • dude… leather shorts & a sweater. You are braver than I am.

      I still feel guilty looking at fashion magazines! We used to be sent down to the end of the checkout aisle ahead of mom so we wouldn’t see any of the shameful covers. 😀

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