We all know that what you wear and how you present creates a first impression that can affect any relationship and how you are treated. A Vicar in jeans and T-Shirt just doesn’t fit with societies traditional expectation of the status and role.
Why do we judge people based on such superficial and largely irrelevant characteristics? Is it because we are quite tribal at heart?, we like to have a sense of needing to fit in and comply with a defined social order and expectations. Our social standing is defined by who we present as, our uniform if you like.
Society seems to prefer order, and functions when everyone knows their place. When someone disrupts that natural order this rocks the hierarchy and challenges the norm.
In the 70’s Punk Rock challenged the norm, safety pins, zips and Mohican hair styles made their statement; “I won’t comply with the establishment”. Punk Rockers would be looked down upon and relegated to a lower class by the hierarchy. Was it a rebellion against the parents or the world in general, or was it simply a genre forming their own tribe or collective?
Throughout the evolution of our culture, clothing and presentation has formed a basis our alignment in society. We know how we fit in, we know how to create a good first impression, and we then judge those very quickly who don’t meet those expectations.
In business, we all get told to wear a suit to an interview, visible tattoos are not professional, and body piercings are certainly not de rigueur.
how we look says a lot about who we are and how we are treated…
Why should we define ourselves so superficially, why does the way we adorn ourselves with fabric and materials matter to who we really are inside?
As a Transgender woman I have spent much of my life preoccupied by my presentation, my visual image is misalaigned, the person I see in the mirror doesn’t match the person I feel inside and identify as, this is my Gender Dyphoria. I can alleviate this Dysphoria by presenting and expressing myself to the world as any female would. It doesn’t change who I am inside, but it allows the world to understand how I wish to be treated and redefines my orientation in society.
Out to the world my thoughts move on to; do I pass, will I be accepted, will anyone take me seriously? – but why should the way I look and the ability to blend have any bearing on my ability to function and fit in. Passing is about fitting in with a societies expectations of normal, Q.E.D. if I don’t comply then I don’t fit in!
To me it is important to blend in, or pass – I don’t want to been seen as who I was before, who I was expected to be. I want to be seen and preceived by the world as who I always felt I was inside. So to me, presenting in line with societies view of a woman is important, but having said that I am proud to identify as transgender, that will never change, it is who I am.
I always maintain that I am the same person what ever I wear, I sleep naked, I shower naked and that doesn’t invalidate me. If I lived alone on a deserted island, clothing would become largely functional and driven by necessity for warmth or protection. Without any expectations or a society to comply with I sometimes wonder would I retain my Gender Dysphoria?
Now what to wear? My journey up until recently has involved mainly social occasions or daytime casual. Putting on a gorgeous dress, heels and make-up to paint the town red, or a casual look with some skinny jeans and a top to wander around the supermarket.
Venturing out as a business woman is a whole new challenge, there a new rules of engagement to be learned. The dynamics in business and social situations are complex, we learn these from an early age and evolve as we develop into adulthood and embark on our careers. I now find myself parachuted in mid-life and to be honest I have floundered a bit to sorting my identity out. I have had to quickly learn what is smart, what oozes confidence, what is too short or too long, what shoes work for different situations and how I can simply just fit in with expectations. To cap all this there are four seasons to contend with an ever changing climate to adapt to, fashion dictates we must start rocking the cold shoulder look, I need to coordinate accessories and heaven forbid that I wear the exactly same outfit again without a tweak.
A lot of it comes down to how I feel on the day, so many times I have woken up and made a complete u-turn on what I was going to wear, simply because I just didn’t feel like wearing what I had planned. Many times I look in the wardrobe and there is nothing that works, nothing that will express who I am today, nothing that will make me feel great.
If I am packing to go away for a few days then I will take probably three or four extra options for daytime and evening, simply because I can’t predict how I feel. It is ridiculous to beleive I can know what I will want to wear next week when I am packing today!
All this sounds very superficial and largely irrelevant, but I feel the need to create a good first impression everytime and everyday with the world and every person I meet. If I feel good inside, then I smile and feel confident.
How I present to the world is about who I am on the inside and I want everyone to know I feel fanatastic!