Right before my coming out, there was a point where I was conflicted about my look. I had this idea that I needed to look like something in order to be accepted. I wanted to fit that stereotype everybody thinks about when they hear the word lesbian.
I’ve always been more tomboy than girly, but I did own a couple skirts that I wore at more formal events, back in high school. I never felt comfortable in those. I felt exposed, ridiculous, and not attractive at all. But still wore them ‘cause I was a girl and that’s what I was told girls do.
Forward to a bit older when I’d go out with friends. I wore skinny jeans, tight t-shirts or tank tops that showed a bit of whatever cleavage I have, let my hair down and even put some mascara on (couldn’t do more than that without looking like a clown). I did manage to find myself beautiful even though I felt totally dressed up.
The fact is, I do remember wanting to dress with baggy jeans, large t-shirts and snapbacks. I dreamed of cutting my long curly (useless) hair… but knew that was a look associated with ‘’the gays’’, which, at that time, I thought wasn’t a good thing to be seen as.
So right before my coming out, I had a hard time shopping for clothes. I guess I wanted to cut off with my past-self in a way that would also screaming ‘’I’m gay’’ for me, preventing me from having to do the dreadful part of coming out : saying it out loud. I was aiming for the look.
But how in the world could I dress like myself if all the clothes I saw in the shops were pink and pastel, tight and skinny, with lace and glitters and animal prints and… they looked like stupid girl clothes to me. Everything was so damn ugly.
One, two, three times going out shopping… for a while I was wearing the same pair of jeans almost every day because I’d never find any other that fitted me when I was looking around.
I eventually came to the realization that I’d never find what I want… in the women’s section. The answer was right before my eyes every time, but I didn’t want it to be the solution. I had to shop in the men’s section.
… which I didn’t do right at that moment. I was scared. Shameful. Horrified. Unsure. I felt like I was going to be judged by the clerks or the other customers.
One day, I was trying for the hundredth time to find something that’d fit my mental image of my look, in the women’s section of one of my then favorite shops. I eventually got the courage to go see what was in the men’s side… where I was asked by a clerk if I needed help with anything. I blabbed something like ‘’no thanks I’m just looking’’ and felt my face becoming red. My palms were sweaty. My heart was racing. All I wanted was a freaking pair of jeans, goddammit!
After a good 10 minutes of uselessly walking around, I went back to see the clerk and admitted to wanting to buy a pair of ‘’guy’’ jeans but didn’t know what to look for, what my size would be and… that it was my first time. To my own surprise, she was super helpful and I got out of the shop proudly holding the bag with my me jeans. ‘Cause they weren’t ‘’guy’’ jeans any longer.
My style evolved a lot in the past years. I started at a point where I wanted to look a certain way to embrace a stereotype… but I was also trying to fight stereotyping. I’m now only trying to look like me, while finding myself beautiful and being comfortable. I do still shop in ‘’men’s’’ sections and I hate that I have to… I honestly think things like clothes shouldn’t be labelled. Is it really necessary to have MAN or MEN written on every button of jeans that exists? What real difference is there between a women’s shirt and a men’s one?
If you like it, you buy it, simple!
There are more and more online shops for queer and non-binary individuals so it’s made possible to get fitted clothes without having them to be labelled as ”for men” of ”for women”. The online shops I know are mostly in the US, and I don’t know any walk-in shop that offers that in Quebec. Tell me if you know of any good spots to go to!
Now you should have seen me trying to shop for a bra. Ouf I gave up on that one a while back… long live sports bras, seriously.
– M –