Aesthetics, Culture, Choices

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I understand that aesthetics are culturally embedded. In times of famine, fat is beautiful; in times of plenty, thin is beautiful. In an agricultural economy, dark skin means you are an outdoor worker, and thus lower class. In an office work economy, a tan means you have more leisure time outdoors, and thus are higher class.

I think of this now because suddenly I find myself knowing three different (dark-haired) women who don’t shave. Refusing to shave is a classic second-wave feminist act of defiance against our society’s straight male expectations for how women dress (and be) to attract the men’s attention, affection and presumably babies. By not shaving a women is declaring herself completely outside of and uninterested in that whole agenda.

Mentally, I can understand why some would want to make such a statement, but aesthetically I find it distasteful, especially as more fur is more visible. But here’s the thing. I think an awful lot of men should shave too. The problem isn’t that we have a standard of hairlessness so much as that it is a double standard. Frankly, I think that a far larger swath of our male population should not only shave far larger tracts of themselves than they currently do. They should buy mini- rider mowers and hire little gerbils wearing little Carhartt caps to do the landscaping for them.

Some jobs you can do yourself. But for big jobs, go with the professionals.

 

Styling Saturday: Making Changes

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First quarter of this football game that is 2016 down, three more quarters to go! So far I have kept my most important New Year’s Resolution: #9 Stay open to possibilities. Also I have been making small changes in my wardrobe, trying to remember to wear makeup and jewelry more to balance out my semi-masculine clothes. I have spent a lot of my life looking like I dressed this way by accident, in part because I did. Now I am dressing this way on purpose, and I want to be very clear about that.

For the last ten or twelve years I have had to wear glasses, first when I read and then all the time. I always got very simple frames. Now I am wearing these instead.

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That’s the good news. Now for the other kind. As I mentioned a few days ago, I got a new haircut. I feel like I got scalped. I think I do this at the start of spring every year, emphasizing “short” to the hairdresser because I know the warm weather is, hopefully, coming soon. My friends have all been kind about it, saying it looks good, although one friend who knows about the recent changes in my life suggested that I use my new network to find a better hair dresser. “If there is one group who has the haircut thing locked in, it’s the lesbians!” This is also something I had noticed while in seminary, but never really took advantage of then. But she might have a point.

The Bisexual Cento

 

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I was on a blog the other day and the poet’s “and” list was exactly like a cento, a poem created from the single lines of other poems. I was looking at the Tag Cloud for this blog today and saw the ones that stand out:

 

Bisexuality, Catholic school, cufflinks,

Joss Whedon, androgyny,

butch, femme, hair, Jesus,

Katherine Moennig, ally,

lesbian, menswear, perception,

shoes.

Styling Saturday on Easter Sunday

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So I had toyed with the idea of wearing a necktie to church for the Easter morning service. I have a pale pink one that would have gone well with the bright pink blazer and black shirt I was planning to wear. Then, on Saturday afternoon, I went to get a haircut. I asked for short and layered–you know, thicker on top and gradually thinner as it goes down. What I got was very short from the ears down. Very, very short. And a little longer on top. So instead, I decided to wear this necklace. I may not be as straight as I used to be, and I still don’t care much for dresses, but I’m still a girl, dammit.

Styling Saturday: The Giraffe in the Room

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So I was wandering around Pinterest last week and I saw this illustration and immediately had a visceral reaction to it: Yes! That’s it!

After my self-revelations last fall, I started the new year intending to test out the possibility of bisexuality, but how does one do that? Eventually, I realized that the local Meetup had some groups for lesbians, so I nervously signed up for a few—one at a museum, one at a dance at a local hotel, a concert, a movie, and one at one of the few gay bars in town (apparently). For all of these events, I dressed carefully in my work clothes: French cuff shirt, blazer, earrings and necklace that complement my cufflinks (because duh), boots with two-inch heels because I am not particularly tall in flats… The very first event I went to, a woman said, “Nice outfit,” which was a huge shock; I cannot begin to tell you how much I never, ever hear that.

Most of the LGBT women I know I met at either seminary or church, and priests do tend to dress a bit conservatively (luckily a black shirt with a white collar goes with everything, dear). But at every event I went to it was pretty much 96% women you would pass on the street and not be able to tell whether they were gay or straight from any stereotypical markers; 2% women in menswear; and 2% women in plaid flannel.

What did I expect? That I was a Clydesdale and the bar would be filled with zebras who would sense my deception immediately? That the room would be filled with quarterhorses and I, a giraffe bicycling my way into the mix, would smack my neck on the rainbow, the gate also become the gatekeeper?

SPOILER ALERT: That didn’t happen. (Big surprise, right?)

At one lesbian happy hour meetup, I was talking to an older women—short grey hair, dress, good jewelry: the kind of woman I would expect to be a dean at one of the schools I work at—about how surprised she was that it was my first time at that bar; presumably when there are only two or three gay bars in town, one naturally assumes that everyone who is there has been there before. I explained that I had just recently realized I was bisexual. She said (more or less), “Seriously? I totally thought you were a lesbian.”

Reader, I thanked her. Contextually, it was a huge compliment, while at the same time explaining why I haven’t had any dates with guys for the past eleven years.

Somewhere in heaven, God and Joan of Arc are sharing a huge laugh at my expense.

Also, apparently, there’s nobody here but us horses.

O! The Hypocrisy!

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No, alas, I am not talking about our dreadful election year. I am speaking of myself. I was on the train this morning and I saw a tall, thin young man with a beard and hair down past his shoulders. I immediately thought that if I saw him from behind I would assume he was a woman–the reverse of what happens to me at least once every week or two. I wondered what the appeal of long hair was. Part of this is because I had long hair for a bout a year or two and it was a Total Pain to take care of and you shed everywhere. I thought he would look better with a shorter haircut.

All of these thoughts probably took no more than a minute. Then I caught myself.

Argh! Argh! Argh!

So apparently, although I say I like androgyny, what I really like is for everyone to look masculine? How torqued is that? Does this mean I am walking around mindlessly privileging the masculine over the feminine? Bad feminist! Go stand in the corner!