clothing’s expression

Did you ever hear that 2006 song by Adam and Andrew, “Emo Kid”?  (We always called it “The Emo Song”, but it looks like it is actually called “Emo Kid”.)  A few friends and I loved it back in high school, because so much of it resonated with us, and for various reasons.  Yes, it was meant to be a parody, but so much of it rang true in our lives.  Anyway, I recently found myself singing one of the lines from it over and over again (though I hadn’t listened to the song in years):

[…]I feel real deep when I’m dressing in drag.
I call it freedom of expression,
most just call me a fag[…]

Somehow, the line stuck with me.  For days, it looped around in my head, the boy singing that line, taking up shop as one of the regular horses in the carousel of my mind.  Eventually the following resulted:

one (ひとつには)

At one point, I recalled a recent discussion of why girls needn’t be called “Tomboys”, but simply “girls”, because it is just part of who they are.  If they like sports or wearing baseball caps and loose t-shirts and shorts, then they like it – it has nothing to do with whether they are truly girls or not.

At first, I didn’t like the feeling of that discussion, because I, myself, was a Tomboy in my early school days, and I was proud of it.  Even now, I still throw on loose sweatpants, a baggy t-shirt and jacket, and a crooked cap from time to time… and that’s completely normal.  But then I understood a new side of what the discussion was aiming for. It is entirely socially acceptable for me to do that, to act and dress as a boy.  But not the other way around, because girls can be like boys, but boys can’t be like girls.

As women, we have three general genres of clothing: Regular, Girly, and Tomboy/Comfy.  Depending on the girl, the frequency of each can be drastically different, and sometimes is affected by the matter of being at home with friends and family versus being out in public.  On average, though, we all wear all three. (Do recall, this is purely my experience in life, so might not be accurate in other people’s lives.)  I know that I tend to go much more the Tomboy/Comfy route whenever it gets cold out, and super Girly when it’s hotter weather.

My entire life, I have experienced that it is fine for girls to wear men’s clothing. We do it all the time.  ‘The boyfriend t-shirt’ has even become a marketing strategy, making specifically for women t-shirts that mimic the style of a man’s t-shirt.  (I think it has even gone into ‘Boyfriend Sweaters’ and a couple others now…)  Any day of the week, it is acceptable, and often even appreciated, for women to go out in their low-down, comfy clothes, which really are just clothes that look like, and might even be, men’s clothing.  So why is it not okay for men to do the same with women’s clothing?

People tend to have a mini freak-out even when they see a man dressed in clothing that is not strictly and traditionally male clothing, let alone actual women’s clothing.  ‘He’s pushing the gender line with that outfit,’ I’ve heard too many people say.  But why does that have to be so?  Rather, does that have to be so?  Can a man not wear women’s clothing the same as women are allowed to wear men’s clothing?  I think he can – the observers just have to do some rearranging of what we think it means for a man to wear women’s clothing.

two

How can we expect men to be self-expressed in their clothing, when they have so few options?  I want to see variety in men’s clothing choices.  I remember several years ago, walking through the Gap, wondering why men had so few style options, and women so many.  “What gives?  I would be so bored as a man,” I thought as I perused the entire men’s section in two minutes, after spending 45 in the women’s (before taking a break, because there was just so much stuff!).  The only time I have seen true variety has been here in this duality of style that Japan (particularly Tokyo, where I am) is.  Men either wear the standard button-up collar with a suit, or they are walking the streets in God knows what.  You can imagine which ones have me beaming with delight and interest when they walk past.  (On that note, so far as gender boundaries go for street dress here, there is a fabulously large and exciting gray area like I have never before seen.)

three

When men spend time to fix their hair, is anyone opposed to how good it looks as a result?  Definitely not.  What’s the difference between doing hair and doing makeup?  Makeup is just one more thing that enhances one’s appearance.

I don’t wear makeup almost ever, not because I dislike the effects, but because I’m lazy, and I’m happy with how I look without makeup (though I do occasionally make myself up real nice).  However, no one has ever declared that I am pushing the boundaries between male and female by not wearing makeup.  So why do people have to comment when a man does wear makeup?

Some students informed me one day that a male student wears makeup.  My easy and thrilled response was a simple, “I know.  Doesn’t he look great?”  And they were baffled.
“Isn’t that weird that he wears makeup and is a guy?” they inquired.
“Why would that be weird?  It enhances his appearance, making him even more gorgeous than he is without it.  And he likes looking his best.  So why would he not wear makeup, if that’s how he feels he looks best?”

Does it really matter, if the only difference is that a guy looks better?  I can’t see it any differently than a guy spending time fixing his hair – it merely enhances his appearance.  Women wear makeup to enhance their appearance, so how about letting men do the same, since it also enhances their appearance?

four

Men and women alike wear makeup, and look fabulous for it (well, so long as they do it well, of course, because it does take some training to get it to do what you want it to do (again, why I almost never bother with it)).  And other men and women, like myself, don’t wear makeup, and also look great.  Lady Gaga showed up for a photo shoot dressed as a man (and a totally gorgeous and classy one at that), saying that he was a certain expression of a part of herself.  What if we were to allow and encourage people to express themselves in their appearance, similar to how photographers had to do with Lady Gaga (and then even advertised it to the public)?  Even though she was not dressed as they’d anticipated, they rolled with it, because this man is part of who Lady Gaga is, and they were there to capture the essence of Lady Gaga.  So they did.

Rather than being rigid about things being ‘only for boys’ or ‘only for girls’ to wear, what if we allowed people to dress as they felt empowered, self-expressed?  Most days, I don’t feel like wearing a skirt right now, so I wear pants.  Can not a man do just the opposite?  He certainly can.  The question is not whether it is possible for men to do it.  It is instead a matter of our accepting him for who he is, rather than who we think he should be.

.

Now, I really think I could expand on all of this for a reallyreally long time… really.  But, I’ll continue with those thoughts on a different day.  For now, I’ll end with this: If a skirt or makeup is part of your self-expression, then wear a skirt, do your makeup.  If it’s not, then don’t.  If you have an issue with this, please reconsider, and ask yourself why you have a problem with it – is your reason really worth causing people pain and suffering, or is it simply something you were told, and you rolled with it without too much consideration?  And, finally, fashion people, could we get some variety for men’s clothing, please?  I feel like their self-expression must be totally suppressed with such a simple wardrobe.  I even feel somewhat suppressed on their behalf, and I already get to wear whatever I want.

Yeah… thanks for reading, folks.  Whew!  🙂

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a friendly questionnaire

A friend requested participation in answering the following questions, as a way for us all to get to know one another a bit better.  I enjoyed reading her answers, and enjoyed answering the questions with my own answers.  It’s amazing how a simple set of questions can show so much about a person.  Also, how much alike two people can be, simply based on how they answer a question.

I feel as though I am much closer with this friend now, not just due to our having similar answers to some questions, but because we had so much in common in terms of the style in which we answered various questions.  I really enjoyed this mini friend experiment, and so thought I would share my part of it.

Side note: I was really quite hungry and cold as I answered these questions, so the food ones were definitely swayed by that factor.  ;P

 

1. Are you named after a family member? No

2. When is the last time you cried? Yesterday from the cold; last week from actual crying (I can’t believe it’s been so long!)

3. Do you like your handwriting? Yes, but only because it is characteristic of me and my character, not because it is nice (because it isn’t usually)

4. What is your favorite lunch meat? I don’t actually have favorites, so far as I know, but I enjoy doing a variety of lunch meats together, with some good cheese in between them

5. Do you have kids? No goat babies, and no human ones either

6. Do you use sarcasm? Sometimes, but almost exclusively in happy jokes/contexts

7. Do you still have your tonsils? Yup

8. Would you bungi jump? Absolutely – I plan to do it off a bridge over water one day, but I’ve done it over land already… twice

9. What is your favorite kind of Cereal? Again, no answer… I really loved Cracklin’ Oat Bran, Wheatabix, Honey Nut Cheerios, Chex, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, and Grape-Nuts growing up

10. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Only if necessary (so almost never)

11. Do you think you’re strong? Physically: -ish Mentally: totally

12. What is your favorite ice? The ice at the end of a good drink, when I can slide it into my mouth, and suck for a few seconds before crunching away at it for a while with ease,with the slightest hint of the delicious drink still present

13. What is the first thing you notice about people? Posture and confidence

14. Football or Baseball? Meh – about equal

15. What is the LEAST favorite thing you like about yourself? (Does this mean something that I like, but that is at the bottom of the list of things I like? I’ll answer it that way, I guess…) My knees – I like the way they look versus the other loads of options out there

16. What color pants are you wearing? Wearing fleece-lined black leggings right now – if I were in pants, they would be green, dark mustard, maroon, blue, or black… but they’re all too tight to wear these fleece leggings underneath, and it’s too cold not to wear these right now ;P

17. What are you listening to now? The few people milling about the teachers’ room as they finish test-grading, along with the most random mix of music from my iPod (which I haven’t updated in a couple years so far as the music is concerned)

18. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? The new one called something like “Poppy Field”, which would be a melty mixture of that red-yellow-green coloring of the fields

19. Favorite smell? …. essential oils and flowers… and beeswax, and golden milk, and chai… yeah

20. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? Mom…?
Oh! Just checked! Avery, via Facebook Messenger (yes, it was on my phone that I spoke to her), to help her with her college essays!

21. Favorite sport to watch? I like watching soccer on TV with my family, because it is a fabulous affair… but it isn’t for the soccer specifically that I like it… I think I prefer playing to watching most sports… or else coaching

22. Hair color? Dirty blonde, naturally so, and in a pattern people regularly try to replicate for others, but never manage to reproduce (score one for Nature! Hehe)

23. Eye color? Beautiful Blue that surprises you

24. Favorite food to eat? Again… haha… I like dipping small crescent rolls into hot chocolate in the mornings; sweet potato or pumpkin pie casseroles (make them myself) in the cool Fall weather; gelato on most any day, especially cold days; fresh homemade pizza; caprese salad; healthy smoothies (is that considered eating, though?); most things Indian, Kitchari especially; ravioli; a rainbow salad

25. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings, duh – I watch movies to make life better, not worse ;P Haha

26. Last movie you watched? You’ve Got Mail (?)…

27. What color shirt are you wearing? Black with a blue-white-yellow-dark-red-forest-green-peach-dark-gray-light-gray scarf-like collar – it had to match the leggings!

 

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A ponderous free-write

Awake in a sea of breathless lies – lies about life, and lies about hopes and dreams and loves – , I feel the water pushing in on me, pressing my chest closed, and shoving me down, down, down… into the deep, deepest deep of these dreaded weeds, where those poor, unfortunate souls to eternity have condemned themselves.  I’ll not be a part of it.  I’ll not, though.  So, I feel for some gills, take in the water as would the driest of deserts, and push off this seeming bottom of the existence I know; I am going out to who knows where, to do who knows what, knowing that I can breathe easy now and forever, because I am awake, and so I shall swim, and next I shall have wings.

 

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Fitting In? Fat Chance, honey :P

I have come to discover that my chances of fitting in around Japan are slim-to-none.  Not that I really expected to fit in in the first place, with my dirty-blonde hair, tanned skin, and blue eyes, but I mean culturally, as well as physically, I have almost no chance.

Tonight, heading home on the trains, there were no seats available when I boarded my final transfer.  However, the next station, though it certainly would dispense a good chunk of the train’s current occupants, leaving me a seat or two for myself (which it eventually did do, as usual), was almost ten minutes away (7:50 to be exact), and I was exhausted.  So much so, that I couldn’t even bother trekking through the cars, due to the slim hopes of finding an empty eat.

So, what did I do?  I just squat down slowly and inconspicuously, and sat on the floor, in the corner by the door.  It was actually quite comfortable.  (And familiar, seeing as I had done the exact same thing last night, too.)

Something else I did last night, was strike up conversation with a guy on the train.  Yes, he was reading a Spanish study book.  No, I have never seen people start talking to strangers on the trains here.  Ever.  But I just couldn’t resist – a Japanese guy is standing in front of me, not only studying Spanish, but he is really into it… and it happens to be around 12:30am.  First off, how is he even reading right now?  Second, why is he so into it, that he is engrossed in the book, although he looks exhausted?

Suffice to say, I decided to talk to him, and have now adopted him as one of my friends. (We are now Facebook friends and Line buddies, due to my finding him on each (again, totally not something a girl typically does here, according to what I’ve been told by Japanese friends).)

Yesterday, heading into town, I found myself lip synching to various musical numbers and anything else that popped up on shuffle on my iPod… and hard core, too, with some dancing around (in place) and head shaking and such.  I paused briefly, when at a really intense part of Defying Gravity, suddenly thinking about how this must look for the people around me.  The pause was a mere pause, though, as I thought it through, and determined that I really don’t mind not fitting in.  I want to be loved.  Fitting in is of no importance.  Just love.  And people can’t love me, i they don’t get to know who I am.  And at that moment, lip synching to amazing songs was a perfect expression of my self.  So I resumed… and continued for the next almost half hour (at which point the music mellowed out, and I found a place to sit on the train, so I just continued with casual lip synching).

With all of this happening in the past 24 hours, I think I have officially reached the point where I can declare that I just won’t ever fit in here.  ;P  Ever.  And that’s totally okay.  🙂

 

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vocabulary and wardrobes

I was inspired by a (digital) conversation I had today with a high schooler, and so thought I would share it with you, dear void.  I had not specifically put words or real thought into this idea, until today, mid-conversation, thus making it quite exciting for me throughout this whole little bit!  😀

me
10:50 AM
we tend to hang out with a certain, small set of vocabulary in daily life
just like our clothing

A
10:50 AM
yeah i have like 2 shirts i wear even though i have more. they are both black v necks

me
10:50 AM
we wear the same pieces over and over again

A
10:50 AM
tell me about that trust me i know that my mom hates it

me
10:51 AM
exactly
haha

A
10:52 AM
is this draft finished?

me
10:52 AM
because, even though we are comfortable in them (the words and the clothing), other people have to look at them and hear them all day long. So, we have to learn to expand our vocabulary (and wardrobes) to include more and more pieces we totally love (but just didn’t know about)
Otherwise, we bore and annoy those around us, and end up with either no one around us, or boring people around us
;P

 

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Nomihodai

Japan has something called Nomihodai, and it is quite the concept and experience.  For a certain, predetermined-by-you amount of time, your entire party has all-you-can-drink on most beverages the establishment provides.  Now, the main point of this is for people to be able to drink alcoholic beverages (beer and simple mixed drinks), but sodas and juices are also available.

Seeing as I typically drink only water at restaurants, bars, and the likes, the concept of Nomihodai is a somewhat annoying, rather money-sucking one.  However, as I sipped my cup of hot, delicious tea tonight at a café, while discussing end-of-year (man, we’re doing lots of hyphenated nouns tonight) parties that, naturally included Nomihodai, I was struck by a new idea.  Nomihodai for tea.  Naturally, caffeine content would be important to know for such an endeavor, however I totally would love that sort of Nomihodai.

I think the cost could be dropped, because tea is drastically cheaper than alcohol (good ones, anyway), and drinking hot tea takes a bit more time than a cold beer, so one would consume fewer in the same amount of time.  Gosh, I’m smiling all over just thinking of the idea.  If I ever get to my library café, I think I’ll have a sort of Nomihodai option available.  Say twenty bucks for two hours, and you’d have the opportunity to try all sorts of teas, in whatever sizes you wished, perhaps even hot or cold…

Mmmm…., yes, I like this idea; let’s do it.  😀

 

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irrigating your ears

You know that sensation of irrigating your ears?  I used to get ear infections all the time, and so I irrigate my ears quite often these days, depending on the type of shower-head I use (yes, it actually makes as difference in how much water ends up in my ears).

Anyway, onward and whatnot… now, for whatever reason, the alcohol always seems to be cold – not uncomfortably cold, but definitely cold to the touch.  As you pour it into your ear, a slight chill rushes down your neck, raising your shoulders and creating a chained reaction of shuddering all the way down your spine – a sort of shudder of ecstasy.  Then, if you move your head around while the alcohol is in there, you experience a sort of itching sensation as the liquid bounces back and forth against the walls, rolls up and down the sides.  And finally, as you right your head, the blup-blup-blup-blup-blup(!) of alcohol hurries out of your ear, summoned by the call of gravity, down your chin and neck, creating another sort of shudder of ecstasy, but this time of relief, as well as the ecstasy.  And, if the angle was right, you come to with the alcohol dripping from your chin, having followed that path frequented by tears.

Yeah, it’s a really weird experience, irrigating one’s ears.  Really.  But it makes a huge difference in my ear health, for which I am grateful.

 

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