Breaking the Binary

I read this really dope piece on managing body dysphoria the other day.

In an earlier post, I touched on the topic of my own issues and struggles with dysphoria and expressing my sexuality and gender identity. When I was younger, these problems were definitely more pronounced, but as of late, I feel like I’m coming into myself.

The article gave nine strategies for dealing with those familiar feelings of dysphoria and after reading them, I thought about the ways that I had been practicing some of them without really realizing it.

  • Prioritizing Emotional Self-Care

Creating a good emotional environment for myself has been years in the making. Carefully curating the company I keep, figuring out the things I like to do to occupy my time, and generally making myself a priority.

If I don’t want to go out, I don’t.

If I don’t feel like going to the gym one day, I don’t.

If I’m ever in my feelings about something and I want to drown my sorrows in a dozen donuts, I do.

  • Asserting My Identity

I know my mother hates the way I dress, but frankly, I really don’t give a damn.

Even as a kid, I wanted to dress more masculine but not having complete control over my wardrobe made it difficult for me to do so.

As a teenager, my mother would sometimes prompt me to throw on some make up or do something with my hair or wear a dress.

I’ve neither worn make up, combed my hair, or worn a dress in years and I couldn’t be happier.

  • Expressing Sexuality

I’ve never been one to talk about my sex life. It’s just not my aesthetic. But being grown and independent has done a lot for my sex life. Finally being at a place where I can do what I want, when I want has worked wonders for my confidence.

  • Providing for Health and Wellness

Did I mention I’ve been in the gym? I’ve loved lifting weights for as long as I can remember. I power lifted in high school and my mother, who likes to run marathons in her spare time, taught me the importance of exercising regularly from a young age. But when I got to college, I didn’t exercise as regularly as I did back in high school. There was a student gym on campus but that many people in any size space all sweating and breathing heavy in tandem made my social anxiety flare like it never flared before, so I just avoided it. Not being in the gym or making time to exercise, in general, really took a tole on my mental health. Not only did I physically just feel like shit, I became well acquainted with depression and anxiety and battled suicidal thoughts. The body that I inhabited didn’t feel like mine.

But now I can afford a private gym membership and all is right with the world. Having a regular workout routine gives me a sense of purpose and also helps me feel more in tune and in control of my body.

  • Building Community

Since I’ve stepped into this blogging world and, as a result, increased my usage of social media, I’ve found a lot of folks having the same conversations and thoughts as myself. I’ve found people who I look to for inspiration, knowledge and guidance. Growing up in Mississippi, you can imagine there isn’t much to pull from in my immediate environment, so the internet has really become a second home for me.

  • Making Cultural Connections

Gender is a social construct.  As we develop our sense of gender, we shape ourselves in relation to our cultures. But oftentimes, people of color and others find themselves in a social context that does not represent the cultures that they identify with.

I think there is now an emergence in “LGBT culture,” specifically as it pertains to black folks. The yaaassss-es and the shade-s and the tea-s and the queens: all this new vernacular is a product of black folks in the LGBT community. And of course, mainstream media has done its best to co-opt these terms and erase their origins, but when you do your research, all roads point back to black LGBT community.

Challenging the Binary

My very existence is a challenge to the binary. Even as a kid, I hated doing “girly shit.” In many ways, I suffered from ideas of toxic masculinity passed on to me by the men in my life. (Did I mention I was the only girl of my grandmother’s six grandkids?)

Of course, time has taught me that femininity doesn’t imply weakness in the same way that acting masculinity doesn’t imply dominance. In fact, this is exactly the type of thinking that reinforces the binary.

But when you know better, you do better. For the most part, I’ve come to terms with the idea of gender neutrality and not conforming to traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity and it’s something that I actively practice every single day.

This College Life Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair

I’ve had body issues my entire life really. Dare I even say: dysphoria. I’ve always been a thickum and I’ve always had to be conscious of the things I eat so as not to gain any unnecessary weight. Not to mention, much of your social stock as a teenager is determined by how you look. So all through middle and high school, I worked hard to maintain a size 10/12. It wasn’t where I wanted to be but I had no choice but to work with what I had. It didn’t help that I wore uniforms all k-12, the epitome of unflattering.

Most of the girls found ways to dress it up. That colorful, plastic hair store jewelry was really popular in middle school and bitches used to come to school with those annoying ass bangles all the way up their arms. That was also around the time where the other girls started playing in make up and doing their own hair. Of course, as time went on, clothes got tighter and hair and makeup got more competitive. I still couldn’t keep up.

So, when I got to college I decided I would attempt to reinvent myself.

  1. By cutting all my hair off and going natural
  2. Dressing how I wanted

It was a new chapter in my life and I was trying to cast off the insecurities of middle and high school.

But college proved to be nothing but a recurring nightmare of broke-ness and anxiety. I had always been very much an introvert and being in places with a lot of people was not my cup of tea. I hated going to the campus gym because it was always packed and smelled like feet. And that cafeteria food is not the most nutritious. And of course, you can’t eat healthy when you’re broke.

In all my years, I feel like I’m finally getting to a place where I can start working towards being the person I wanted to be back in middle school. I’ve had a gym membership of my own for a few months now because I’m willing to pay money in order to avoid the risk of social interaction while I’m working out. I pay rent for a home that has an amazing kitchen where I actually have room to prepare health(ier) meals for myself.

Long story short: I feel like this is the most control I’ve had over my life and destiny in my entire life.

Personally, I’ve always thought new year’s resolutions were a bit disingenuous. But I’ve set some new goals for myself to achieve as we move in to month two of 2018. I’m tightening up on you hoes. My hair is flourishing, my wardrobe, my health. In hindsight, these college years, I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel so the way I see it, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Year of the Androgyn

It’s taken me a little over 21 years but I think I’m finally coming into my own sense of style. Some of my favorite videos to watch on YouTube are those reaction videos where people react to old photos of themselves and one thing I’ve gathered is that that awkward phase hit everybody like a ton of bricks.

We all have photos we’d prefer no one else ever saw.

I’ll spare y’all the pics and just tell you, cute as I thought I was, I looked a hot ass mess back in the gap.

This year I finally got to celebrate my New Year outside of a church congregation. And I turned tf up. Admittedly, my New Year’s Eve night was a hot ass mess but I looked damn good. I ate some pavement, I drank half a flask of Aristocrat, and it was cold as balls outside. But the fit was fly.

My style is androgynous. I also identify as non-binary. The difference between the two for me is the element of presentation. Whereas biologically, I don’t consider myself having a gender, my presentation is gender-neutral as well. I like to keep these hoes guessing. I shop mainly in the men’s section, but I also browse the lady’s from time to time. This look is brought to you by Asos mens.

In 2018, I really want to add some different things to my wardrobe. This style journey has been a long one but it feels like I’m sort of coming into myself, finally.