This column is an opinion by Charlottetown, PEI-based diversity, equity and inclusion consultant Evelyn Bradley.For more information onCBC Opinion Sectionplease consult theFAQs.
A question I get all the time is, “Well, why do you dress like that if you don’t want people to see you and know you’re gay?” This implies that anyone who likes real pockets or fairly long-sleeved shirts is inherently queer.
But I’m also a six-foot-tall black woman in Prince Edward Island. I have a loud laugh (some might say it’s distinct), lots of hand gestures, and a Southern accent. The idea that my clothes are the only thing that makes me stand out I would stand out less in a teal dress and a laughable Afrois.
I could talk about this topic for the rest of my life and never talk about all the ways fashion shatters every gendered understanding that we believe to be true and yet we still impose clothes on men and women, boys and girls. girls.
We sex clothes, they don’t sex us
Clothes are just clothes.
Frankly, I find it absurd that someone would choose to wear pants with inconsistent sizes and no pockets.
But when I tell people to consider doubling down on their options at a clothing store to maximize their options, I get looked at like I have six heads. Their responses range from “I can’t wear men’s clothes”, to “I would never shop in the women’s section”, to “I’m not gay”.
I strongly believe that we need to take a step back from this thought process (mainly because hand-tied bow ties are classic and we should all be wearing them).
Nobody ever asked me if my clothes all came from the same section of a store.
My ties, earrings, shirts and pants are just clothes and accessories. These are elements that guide me to express myself as I want to be seen.
I define business attire and date night by my rules and through my aesthetic.
Evelyn is wearing business ties and blazer jackets, she looks like she’s golfing with your dad and having a scotch afterwards. The Evelyn-at-night aesthetic always includes a buttonhole (I’m always drawn to buttonholes), simple jewelry that can be used in many outfits, ties of all kinds, and my wife’s denim jacket.
Anyway, I love mixing patterns and ties are my favorite accessory.
In college, when I started dressing up and had the budget to do it, I realized that if I just had clothes that I liked to wear, I wouldn’t feel obligated to dress up. to buy the latest fashion or the next trend. I wasn’t chasing the fantasy of dressing like someone else. I was able to rely on my authentic self.
i dress for me
It is not about men’s clothing or women’s clothing. It’s not about gender conformity. It’s about what makes you feel like you. Wear what makes you feel and look like yourself. I know I do.
I look at the clothes as if they were all meant for me if I wanted them, which means I’m much less limited in what I can buy (especially as a plus size person on the island). The men’s pants are consistent in size and fit my curves well. The women’s jackets give me a tailored look that I can’t find with the big and tall men’s sizes. The shoes…well, they’re just cheaper if you shop in the gender section that gets the best sellers.
I’m not here to ruin someone’s day with my choice of tie. My clothes are not a political statement and it is certainly not bravery. If anything, my love for looking like a combination of Mr. Dressup and Colonel Sanders has more to do with my upbringing in the South and my upbringing in a private school than the fact that I’m a lesbian.
The inability to separate personal identity from the capitalist monolith of gendered social norms is frustrating and exhausting. My masculine and feminine aesthetics are not genders, and they are certainly not identifiers of any other part of my identity.
Why can’t I just wear what makes me feel like myself, without needing to do more than that? More importantly, why don’t you do the same?
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