I somewhat recently had an opportunity to dress in drag for the first time in, like, forever and an interesting opportunity it was. Having been graciously loaned a rather smart suit and jaunty hat by a male friend my size, I tried to do it justice by doing proper drag. None of this still hot but boxier version of femme stuff for me. Boobs were bound, hair was tucked. I could have done more with make-up and faux facial hair, but it was like-hell degrees out and I couldn’t be arsed to go that far.
I was surprised to find that I as weirded out by the new, not so shapely me in a suit. Like, really weirded out. Last time I’d done drag was shortly after my eldest was born when I didn’t feel very shapely anyway. I was still carrying a lot of post-partum pounds, so the effect was much less drastic. This time? I felt self-conscious. Seriously self-conscious for about 20 minutes as I padded around my friend’s home, trying to get ready, but going back to the mirror every few minutes to look again. I even thought about taking it all off, undoing the binding and making a sexier, curve-wrapping thing to wear instead. Then I thought “WWFKD?” (what would Frida Kahlo do?), sucked it up, got over myself, did it anyway and had a blast.
Needless to say, the experience has had me thinking a lot. I think about our relationships with our bodies, what kind of power we assign them, what kind of power others assign them, and so on. In the last year and a bit of Big Life Changes ™, I’ve had to rethink and renegotiate my relationship with my body and how I project that. Singlehood does that because it drastically changes everyone else’s relationship with it. The single body gets uniquely different attention (and sometimes a lot more of it) than the taken body. Just as I’d got comfy, the sudden removal of that comfort of knowing how to dress every knook and cranny of the self in the face of what the tribe expects had me feeling very vulnerable.
My mind immediately juxtaposed this with the exposure I have to the raging hormones and the challenges of the ever-changing self-perceptions of the gaggle of teenagers that are in and out of my home on a regular basis. All of the donned bravado, the trying on for size of clothing, makeup, behaviours and language in the face of that vulnerability becomes very real and very explicable when you’re forced to feel it again. They do an awful lot of sucking it up, getting over themselves, doing it anyway and having a blast (or not, as the case may be), no? Probably a metric fuck ton of that on a daily basis.
It was a great exercise in the shaking up of self-perception.
It was a fantastic parenting lesson.
I look forward to doing it again in September.