Of course, the members of my family value me and when they call me animal names, they do so with great love and affection. In fact when my husband calls me by my cat name, he purrs and leaves a trail of lasagna bits for me to follow to the lunch table. I am not quite certain though what people outside of my family think when they look at me.
|According to my mom, this is a photo of me when I was a baby.|
Photo owned by Todd Anderson.
The sales clerk at the supermarket gave me a clue on how strangers perceive me when she called me "sir". In my head, I heard Britney Spears singing: "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman... Probably because I'm really a man."
I love my strange looks but I must admit, it hasn't always been easy looking the way I do. I've received tons of advice on how to look less animalistic or masculine. I've been given tips about makeup, clothing and grooming; with the additional warning that someone more feminine looking (like Orlando Bloom?) will one day grab my husband's eye if I don't whip myself into shape. The one piece of advice I will never forget is from a former classmate who told me I should dress like a girl because I'm a girl.
I get it. To others, I don't look cool in the image I've chosen for myself. The thing is, I've tried to look the way others think I should look. I've had jobs that nearly killed me with mandatory heels and lipstick. Needless to say, I found that the traditional feminine look just didn't work for me and I came away from my heel wearing days with five valuable lessons.
1. Nothing is worth painful feet, or painful anything. If you're a picture of agony in heels or if you squirm in emotional distress under layers of face paint, then something's wrong. You have to make the decision to either commit yourself to the tremendous amount of time and effort it'll take to get used to what you're not comfortable with or you settle for the look that makes you feel good about yourself.
|We all wear pants and sneakers in this house and nobody has to apologize for it.|
2. You only owe people basic grooming. It's a form of mild discourtesy for your breath to smell like a bag of garlic chips, for your clothes to look like they've been to Mordor and for your armpits to smell like rotten eggs, but other than making sure you've brushed your teeth, taken a bath and worn fairly clean clothes, you don't owe anyone anything else. If you must look extra trim, dapper or flashy, it's because you feel you owe yourself that.
3. Clothes and appearance don't define people. It's tragic when girls are put in rigid boxes and told that gender dictates appearance and identity. It doesn't matter if you're a girl in jeans and an undercut looking like a chipmunk. Character, values, and to a certain extent, mental aptitude matter more.
4. Your attitude about yourself is important. Sure, everyone else thinks you look funny, but what do you think about yourself? No one can drag you down if you have a good sense of your own worth.
5. Laughing at yourself is a sign of maturity. Being able to see the humor behind the way close friends and family joke about your looks is an indication that you aren't insecure and you're mature enough to know when people aren't out to hurt you.
Clearly I love myself better now, but it took a few painful episodes of trying to fit in before I finally figured things out. Here's hoping that anyone else who has yet to embark on a similar journey goes through a smoother path.