map out body hair through stares and winces

My arms were beginning to hurt. I was pressing them so closely to my side that I felt like a butch Barbie doll masquerading as a femme, walking stiffly.

A song came on and the raspy, computer-edited voice of a pop star chanted out: put your hands up/put your hands up. And everyone’s hands went up while mine hot-glued themselves to my sides.

This is not you, I kept telling myself all night. I am wearing high heels that are binding my toes together and I feel one step away from falling and why can’t black, high-top Converse sneakers be an acceptable choice of footwear at weddings?

My lumpy skin is pressed into place inside a black dress that I keep telling myself is masculine. However, that dark purple suit I tried on was far more hunky though challenged my economic class far too hard.

My rebellion…my ME‘ness remains hidden beneath my arms in the dark blond strands that run out from my skin like eager marathon runners.

At a wedding full of red-lipped beauties and breasts cascading out of low-low-low cut dresses, I am an anomaly. I almost pass. A stunningly tall woman compliments me on my shoes. She starts listing off multi-syllabic names of designers.

Are those Floreasdfasdfasfd Hserernasdfk shoes? His latest Italian line? Where did you get those? she asks.

Payless, I mutter.

As we all take the dance floor, I am feeling sexiest when I am dancing alone, jumping up and down, being messy with my dance moves and losing myself in the rhythm of the song. Suddenly, I feel my breasts stage a runaway as my bra lifts up, pressing against my breasts in an awkward and uncomfortable way.

All I can think of is: I can’t even wear an undergarment correctly.

While I give my suffocated feet a rest, I sit at my assigned table and watch everyone. I realize that these women in dresses are also humans housing their own insecurities and that as they take over the dance floor, it doesn’t really matter who’s eyebrows are threaded or skin airbrushed or legs cut up from shaving with dull razors. They are most beautiful because they are letting go.

In fact, it doesn’t take long before they remove their uncomfortable heels and exchange them for flip-flops.

After several hours of judging myself, I unpeel my arms away from my sides. I dance harder. I lift my arms a little higher. I take my shoes off and let my bare feet feel the cold, slippery floor.

/

The next morning, I was back in “butch gear” or just gender-less threads that make me feel as close to comfortable as clothes can make me feel.

Sometimes it is fun to dress in drag, or dress up as others might say.

Sometimes it is important to pay attention to these moments when we ask ourselves: who am I dressing this way for?

This hair beneath my arms and on my legs and covering other parts of my body is for me. When I press powder on my eyelids splashing on a color like sparkled grey or blue, that is for me too. When I pack a cock in my underwear on a night alone, just to walk several blocks in my neighborhood, that is for me too.

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