I am cis-gender. This means, I was born with girl parts and I identify as a girl. I am heterosexual. This means I am sexually attracted to men. Only men (specifically MY man). I have never questioned my gender identity. I have never questioned my sexuality.
With that said, as a feminine identifying girl, I have lived most of my life expressing my femininity according to the ways I thought I was supposed to. By this I mean, I assumed that some Big Other out there (the one who knows) defined femininity a specific way, and then I assumed that a subversive gender expression would impair my personal femininity.
In psychoanalysis, a fetish is an object that carries, within, some perceived mystique. A fetish often translates into erotic fascination, but when I use the word, I am not using it with a sexual connotation. On the contrary, I use the word fetish to explain how certain objects have served as a magical embodiment of femininity for me–and without possession of those objects, I have assumed, through the years, I would be identified by others as something less than feminine.
The three feminine fetishes that have, to me, symbolized female gender expression are long hair, high heels, and lipstick. (I could add a fourth–voluptuous bosoms–but I don’t know if I feel up to writing about that one today). These fetish objects have prevented me from expressing my femininity in my own way for the whole of my life. As to the long hair, I internalized the ideal that to be considered beautiful as a woman, one must have long silken tresses, yet I have always preferred a cropped coif for myself. Every time I chop my hair, I worry about “others” mistaking my sexuality, but this is because my empirical life experience has taught me that some “others” do misidentify gender expression based on hairstyles. My next fem fetish is high heels. In my early 20s I wore them all the time. I felt I had to, if I wanted to be perceived as beautiful and desirable. Nevertheless, my inclination, stylistically, has always been toward the female appropriation of male shoe trends. I LOVE fashion sneakers, combat boots, and wing tips! Always have, but I shied away from purchasing them because of the very same insecurity–the fear of being misidentified by others. Finally, lip stick. I have always hated the feel of traditional lipstick on my lips. I also don’t particularly like the way lipstick looks on me. I prefer a very light gloss, and I have lived my 38 years of life thinking I am somehow less of a woman because I don’t like lipstick.
After all this time, I have decided to abandon this illusion–that long hair, high heels, and colored lips represent THE feminine ideal. I am embracing my own personal brand of feminine. Thus, I cropped my hair. I have donned the pixie at other points, but never with the confidence I wear it today. I know who I am. I am a girl. I LOVE being a girl. I just happen to be a girl who likes to wear my hair short, loves to sport female appropriated men’s shoe styles, and prefers the look and feel of lipstick-less lips. I am fem. See me sparkle. In MY own way.
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