Hung out with High School Friend the other day. It was nice. She’s a lot less self-centred than she used to be; we each got equal time in the conversation and she actually listened to what I was saying and everything. And we’re both in the infatuation stage of seeing someone new, so there was a lot of fun stuff to share with each other.
There was one eye-rolling moment at the end, though. I told her how validating it felt when The Doll referred to me as “feminine;” for context, I explained to HSF that a lot of people seem to perceive me as some burly, manly linebacker just because I’m tall, even though my actual frame and features are fairly delicate and I’m all curvy and stuff. I told her that it bugs the shit out of me that people seem to think my presentation takes away my gender somehow – hello, wearing pants doesn’t make me less womanly than if I’d worn a dress, it just makes me a goddamn woman in pants.
HSF replied “I don’t think you’re manly at all! Especially with that cool hair!” which was a pleasant surprise – she’s a conservative dresser and I wouldn’t have thought she’d be into my mostly-shaved-off ‘do. But then she kept talking and it turns out she was referring to a time recently when I tried on some wigs to show her. The wigs were the “cool hair.”
So, just to recap: HSF thinks I’m not manly, but I’m especially not-manly when I’m wearing a pelt of long, fake hair. And she said this right after my rant about society falsely equating femaleness with feminine artifice like makeup/heels/long hair/etc.
When we were teenagers, preppier-than-thou HSF would express her disapproval of my unconventional hair and wardrobe choices all the time. She doesn’t do that anymore; apparently she’s learned to accept that I don’t want to look like a Cosmo girl. But I guess she still wishes I’d try to wedge myself into the Cosmo paradigm (“she’d look so much prettier! Why doesn’t she want to look pretty?”), and when I brought up the concept of “looking feminine,” some of those sentiments leaked out by accident.
I know she wasn’t being mean or catty, and I didn’t bother pointing out that her comments kind of echoed the exact hurtful statements I’d been complaining about. But in future I’ll be sure not to talk about fashion or gender presentation with her.