I'm a 22-year-old lesbian. I have never made any effort to look hot, but suddenly I want to, and it's raising some serious identity issues for me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (65 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Hygiene/beauty-wise, all I do is shower daily, brush my teeth, comb my hair (though it tends to go every which-way), and wear deodorant, clean clothes (some men's, some women's), and moisturizer (for the SPF). I don't own any makeup and I don't know how to apply it. Basically, I look like I don't give a fuck.
Here's the thing, though—I do give a fuck, and I think my apparent apathy's a holdover from a time when I truly wasn't comfortable with myself. As a closeted teen/pre-teen, I wore dingy sweats everyday and kept a copy of The Beauty Myth in my junior high school locker. (I'm sure NO ONE ever suspected.) I defined myself in opposition to other girls because I felt like I could never truly be one of them anyway and was too proud to try. I also did it to distance myself from them so I didn't have to deal with my attraction. On a less psychosexual level, I felt like if I tried to look pretty, people would see right through it and laugh at me.
I had a boyfriend in high school and a couple more in college, along with some random male hookups (I came out "bisexual" at 18). Almost every single first makeout session would include a moment where the guy would look at me real close and then quizzically remark, "You know, you're really pretty," like he'd never noticed before and was pleasantly surprised. Secretly, I loved hearing that—in my mind, it indicated that I wasn't naturally uglier than other girls, but merely had less superficial values. (Ugh.)
Now I've graduated college and am finally out as gay, not bi. My frumpiness is no longer really a source of political pride for me anymore, because I've internalized patriarchal beauty standards enough to only be attracted to women who mostly fit them (yeah, stone me). I'm not trying to imply that a butch or androgynous woman who likes feminine women is necessarily a hypocrite; just that my former feminister-than-thou attitude about not meeting those standards no longer makes sense. Also, it's not like I'm some Jackie Warner/Kate Moennig type—I just look like a troll.
I don't know what sort of gender presentation I'd have if I didn't go through such a long phase of self-loathing, but I suspect that the answer is still not "Barbie". The last time I really dressed up girly was a couple years ago and I felt like I was in drag, but hey, I don't feel terribly comfortable with the way I look now either. Ultimately, I'd like to look like a cute urban 20-something queer girl that other cute urban 20-something queer girls could see themselves dating, instead of an overgrown 3rd grader with blotchy skin and gigantic boobs.
I suppose I know, in broad strokes, how to go about changing my image: learn how to tame my hair, get some makeup and try to even my skin tone a little on nights that I go out, buy trendy-looking clothes I normally wouldn't look at twice, get less-dorky glasses the next time I need a new prescription. If you have any practical advice on those matters, it's more than welcome. (I'm 5'5", 140 lbs, white, and would look ridiculous with hair any shorter than chin-length.) But I guess my real question is, though, how do I not feel so ridiculous trying? I spent my entire adolescence acting either aggressively opposed to this sort of stuff or innocently too "deep" for it. It's a big part of who I was, which is probably why it feels like such a big deal changing it. I don't have any real reason to believe I won't just feel like a potential poser again. Also, I feel like most other people have settled into their style by this age even if do they switch things up here and there, so this sort of deliberate change feels kind of life-stage inappropriate.
As for what I can afford... I make $35,000 a year, my rent's $650/month, and I'm not in any debt. Obviously cheaper is better, but I'm willing to throw a little bit of money at this problem.
(Also, yes, I know that confidence is my biggest issue and that that's not primarily a matter of looks, but I wanted this question to be targeted.)
Throwaway email: anon724 at gmail