In a career where my clothes are chosen for me, I had forgotten just how important it can be for a girl to feel pretty, to feel human. On the rare occasions that I get to wear normal clothes, I generally try to be much girlier than I ever would have been six years ago. Six years ago, I would have gladly stuck to sweatshirts and ill-fitting cheerleading shorts. At that point in my life, my feminine identity was something that I absolutely never questioned, even if I was generally treated as ‘one of the guys’- I still felt like a girl.
Six years later and things have most definitely changed, on a daily basis I wear an ill-fitting uniform that was designed for a man’s body and purposefully meant to make women look as boxy and boyish as possible. This week, I got a reprieve from wearing my litany of camouflage, t-shirts, and ugly, uncomfortable boots. I went into the week wanting to have fun with my clothes and wear the things that I only ever wear to church. I came out of the week feeling like an attractive woman, who has the power to turn heads and make people listen.
I never really relished the fact that I could turn heads as a teen, at that age I thought my family fools to say that I was pretty. They are supposed to say that you are pretty and that you are a wonderful person, I have never gotten that consistently outside of my family. Even now, men rarely ever approach me and say something like that, most of the time I get overlooked for the tiny girl with the big boobs and loose morals that drip from their every action. This last week firmly stamped out in my mind that this should be acceptable behavior from men, that I should just expect to be set to the side. I always thought that I deserved, on some base level, to be noticed. Now I know that I deserve some attention and I have renewed faith that out there- somewhere- is the perfect guy for me. It was the first time in years that I was shamelessly flirted with. Me! The girl who hates standing out was singled out multiple times. (And I secretly loved it.) I don’t know any girl that does not like a bit of good attention every now and then.
I still thoroughly hate being complimented or called out as being good at something. The expectations I have for myself are so much higher than anything that other people can expect out of me. I’m not sure how I come across when I accept compliments, but I know how I feel: uncomfortable. I like sit in the back, do my work and keep my head down. My bosses don’t think that way- they want to bring attention to my work in a way that I am not used to and definitely not comfortable with. This attention has been good for me, but it is not the same as a base ‘you are a beautiful woman’ type of attention.
Lately, I’ve thrown myself so much into my work that I have avoided trying to cultivate being a woman- I doubt that is going to be the case anymore. I’ll be on a contact happiness high for a several weeks, I’m sure. I really relished being able to surprise the people that have known me for months and never expected that I actually knew how to throw on beautiful clothes and wear them. I got a confidence boost from just being myself, which is definitely something I didn’t expect. There have been times when I wondered what I needed to change, now I know that I don’t need to change, I just need to show more of who I am. That is something that I am more than willing to do.