from wackystuff on flickr
A soon-to-be official family member got curious about me an consequently about my blog. She looked it over, then commented, â€œOh, thatâ€™s very femme.â€ Femme was not her thing. She happens to be gay, not normally something relevant to me in the context of fashion â€“ the industry has been quite forward about accepting gay people even as itâ€™s been quite backward in its approach to plus sizes.
But â€œFemmeâ€ and â€œButchâ€ are terms I only ever hear when talking about the way women â€“ lesbians â€“ dress.
By the standard of this particular lesbian, I am very femme.
It surprised me.
I had never really considered where I fell on that spectrum.
My favorite motif is menswear. Iâ€™m vocally feminist. I donâ€™t dress for the male gaze and I discourage other women from doing so. Thatâ€™s not femme, is it?
Well, I wear skirts. I usually match the fedoras and trousers with a camisole. I tend to eschew jeans in public (that has more to do with the age-old problem of fit.) If I had to choose a classic fashion icon â€“ not really something plus size women can do â€“ Iâ€™d pick Katherine Hepburn. I break rules and wear nice trousers whenever the weather allows.
Iâ€™ll admit that the vast majority of this is plain old heteronormative privilege. I have never, ever had to think about this.
So I thought about it.
As some of you might have figured out, Iâ€™m a â€œwear the whatever the hell you want,â€ person when it comes to any fashion-based message. I definitely have an aesthetic thatâ€™s mine all mine â€“ and you having your own is totally cool with me. I also believe you can dress for a goal. But Iâ€™m disinclined to tell you what looks best and if you truly need to know how to wear something you are a)traveling in a foreign country or b)in need of healthcare assistance or c)an infant, and should really tell mommy youâ€™re reading already and that she needs to turn on the filter-thingie so you donâ€™t learn all your dirty words from me.
A word fashion likes to bandy about is â€œfeminine.â€ To be honest, I donâ€™t know what the hell that means beyond â€œhave visible organs that males donâ€™t have.â€ Also, Western marketing seems to think it has something to do with pink. I like pink, hell, itâ€™s part of my blog colors. But Iâ€™m not entirely sure of why they must be connected â€“ men certainly have pink bits, too.
This line of questioning is definitely because Iâ€™m hetero â€“ I think of my sartorial choices as â€œabout the male gazeâ€ or â€œnot about the male gaze.â€ I have a male partner. I definitely dress for his gaze, although for some reason I differentiate it from male-gaziness. I know him. I know what he enjoys that I also enjoy. It isnâ€™t about what guys like, especially since if my sweetieâ€™s tastes were what weâ€™re told is typical, he wouldnâ€™t be with me. Itâ€™s about this person I know who I want to do something nice for once in awhile â€“ in part because I benefit with sexytimes, etc.
I would guess that there is such a thing as a female to female gaze, for the parts of fashion that are about promenades for mating partners.
But most days, I donâ€™t dress for my partner or any other man. If I want to feel powerful, itâ€™s trousers or a pencil skirt. If I want to feel playful, I wear one of my geek T-shirts (typically mens cuts) with a skirt. But I am by no means androgynous. While I was misgendered a few times in my teens â€“ most girls waited for boobs, I waited for cheekbones â€“ it never bothered me nearly as much as people assuming I was pregnant.
From how Iâ€™ve heard â€œfemmeâ€ used, however, I donâ€™t think my features or body type have anything to do with it. Itâ€™s how I present. My presentation â€“ and interest in fashion as artistry and language â€“ is about displaying my persona, rather than my body, to its best advantage. Persona may or may not be gendered.
I guess Iâ€™ve never thought about my overall personaâ€™s gender. But â€œwomanâ€ gets used a lot when people talk about meâ€¦.
so I guess I do qualify as femme.
Is there a chart or something? I feel like this is a spectrum situation.