A Prairie Homo Companion: Weather Watch Gender Presentation Fashion Crisis

A Prairie Homo Companion is a regular column that celebrates the Canadian prairies, canola fields and big skies, and the paradoxes of being a fine-ass lady prairie homo.

Header by Rory Midhani

prairie-homo_640_web
Right now I’m sitting at my desk, and this is what I’m wearing: wool socks, orange shorts with pink squares on them, a grey hoodie with black zigzags. I don’t know if you guys imagined me as this super-cool, fashionable person because I write for Autostraddle and Autostraddle is always in style, well, I have news for you:I’m not. I mean, usually I am (I hope) or at least I try, but lately, especially when I’m at home, alone, writing, I’ve just given up. But sometimes even when I’m straddling along on the street (pun intended) my outfits don’t make sense. Take, for instance, last Thursday. At first (in the morning), I wore the following: winter boots, jeans, winter coat, hoodie, t-shirt. But in the prairies, the three hours between 9 am and noon is apparently enough time for winter to skip right past spring and on to summer because come lunchtime, I wished I had worn sneakers as I was forced to trudge along outside in my heavy, hot winter boots, carrying my hoodie and coat in the sudden surprise summer. The week before there had been a surprise winter storm: one day it was your average spring, with blue skies and puddles and birds and the like. The next day the wind was howling so loudly I could hear it in the shower (seriously) and there was snow everywhere. Yesterday there was a rainstorm. Or was it the day before? Right now in Saskatchewan there are reports of heavy snow, fires, and flooding — all in one province. I just can’t handle this anymore. I don’t know how to think, or feel, or dress, which is why I’m here, in my orange shorts that look like they’re covered with pink 80s bangles and my not-at-all matching grey hoodie.

I like to think my gender identity changes with the seasons. In the winter I can channel my great Canadian butch, or great Canadian bad-girl-bank-robber butch, if it’s -30 degrees and I happen to be wearing my balaclava. To keep warm, I wear flannel, hoodies, and jeans baggy enough to fit long-johns underneath. I limit my makeup because when you come inside after being outside in the cold, mascara and eyeliner have a habit of smudging and blurring as the ice crystals that have formed on your eyelashes defrost.

via Meanwhile in Canada

via Meanwhile in Canada

Summer though, is all about sexy two-pieces, flowy t-shirts that make me feel like I’m a hippie in the 70s, earrings (I don’t have to worry about the metal getting cold and freezing my ears), pretty skirts, and things with flowers on them because summer is pretty with flowers and makes me feel pretty and flowery. In summer, I can femme it up, go to queer spaces, and have people look at me like I don’t belong. “Oh please,” I want to say. “Just wait till winter.” My gender presentation is weather-based.

That’s why I’m really confused right now — the constantly changing weather is not only affecting my mood (read: moody), but I also have no idea how to dress, how to be a young, hot, fashionable queer. Every morning I wake up and have no idea what to wear. Do I wear my winter boots? Am I going to need them because it’s cold, or am I going to need them because currently it’s warm, but later it will snow and rain at the same time, then get cold, then the ground will freeze and I’ll need my winter boots with their good grip so I don’t slip on the ice and break various parts of my body? Do I dare wear just a t-shirt under my coat, or is that taking too much of a risk? I mean, what if there’s a surprise snow storm and I’m caught with just a t-shirt under my light coat? Have you watched that interview with Grimes in which she talks about how she got frostbite and then had to wait for 17 hours in Emergency? Shit could get dangerous.

So until the weather decides what it is, I too, will remain confused about my identity and will try to make peace with being this not-quite-butch, not-quite-femme unfashionable prairie homo writer creature in weirdly coloured summer shorts paired with wool socks and a hoodie. But hey, if the weather’s going to procrastinate on an actual spring that moves towards summer, then I think I’m justified in procrastinating my sense of fashion.

Profile photo of Malaika

Malaika likes books, drinking tea, long conversations, dinner parties, making funny faces, bike rides, and dogs. Originally from Edmonton, she now lives in Montreal where she edits, runs, and writes about the Alberta Tar Sands for The Media Co-op. You can follow her on twitter @Malaika_Aleba.

Malaika has written 84 articles for us.

21 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    hahahaha. …As coastal Canuck…it is still cold here too….going out very early to train to swim in the dark means lots of layers…like lots of black athletic gear and loose jeans as everything sticks to moist skin…you feel ridiculous to finish and see some sunlight and then off comes everything…then the sun disappears and it is cold again…nah, keep it all on until summer finally hits at 20 c and then one maybe gets a pair of shorts out…maybe…boots still stay on…..as it is wet here.

  2. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    I totally agree with you. At the beginning of summer I often feel like going out in drag when I put on pretty girly dresses or frilly blouses…
    At least the spring in Middle Europe is fickle, so I can wear my leather jeackets and oxfords for a few months and feel appropriately dressed as a futch until it gets too warm.

  3. Thumb up 2

    Please log in to vote

    This is me too! The weather in Saskatchewan meant the first greyhound bus of my trip was cancelled, and I am couchsurfing around with a backpack full of summer clothes, but I need to wear them all at once! It is almost warm enough to have windows open, but I just don’t know, all this uncertainty!

  4. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    NYC-dweller here. I have a lot of body issues, so being a femme-ish type in the summertime cranks my depression into overload. I don’t have nice, big coats to hide under when it’s warm, so I spend most of my time inside (I’m never going to be seen in a bikini in this life, not that it’s anything worth seeing). Even if I wanted to butch it up a little, I’d just wind up looking like a dude.

    …Did I remember to take my meds today?

  5. Thumb up 7

    Please log in to vote

    this is so relevant for me right now. I’ve been agonizing over clothes every day for weeks. I don’t have almost any shirts I am comforable wearing right now & always end up wearing too many layers so I’m not super dysphoric, only then I end up overheating… I work outside & temperature fluctuate constantly here too.

    I wish I was comfortable dressing fem, its so much easier in the summer. Can we get an article on how to dress more masculine/butch in summertime?

  6. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I can tell you’re not from Saskatchewan because you said hoodie instead of bunnyhug ;-)
    From one canadian prairie queer to another, I share with you my secret: those cargo pants from the early 00s that zip off at the knees. Functional, hilarious, nostalgia cred, comfy and hella stylish.

  7. Thumb up 2

    Please log in to vote

    One of my favourite things about winter is being able to get away with wearing hoodies, biker boots, and jeans/long pants every day. Then summer hits and it’s like every other girl but me is wearing brightly coloured feminine attire. I wore jeans & a black t-shirt to go fishing once (dark colors are supposed to make you less visible to the fish), and as a result overheard my gender loudly debated in public by a pair of bratty kids. It perplexes me how on a scale of femme to MOC, the same outfit can rate as a 6 in one season and an 8 in another.

    PS: Also third the motion for a MOC fashion article. Ideas on how to keep cool while not compromising one’s presentation would be much appreciated.

  8. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Gender presentation varying seasonally? Yup. Another one here. Friends who meet me in the fall and winter are sometimes surprised to see me in dresses by mid May or June. Vancouver might be interesting for this, as it really hardly gets that warm here. Hmm.

  9. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I hear you so much in this. Sweden has a long tradition of unstable-as-hell weather, causing problems for everyone involved. EVERYTHING bloody varies with the weather. I generally present more on the femme-y spectrum which is difficult during winter but a lot easier in summer. I can’t wait (though I hope this year’s summer will actually be a summer instead of the sorry excuse we had last year).

  10. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Spring’s like that here in Scotland (well “Spring”). We get snow and then blazing sun and then hail all in one day. Dressing for work is the worst because its hard enough to maintain the appropriate layers of pretence for smart casual (because smart casual is pretending you don’t care about formality like those stuffy businesses over there but actually you care just as much and there’s no handy basic default like there is for business dress) even without needing to carry with you six layers that don’t co ordinate.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      That makes me very worried because I’m moving to Edinburgh soon :( I thought NW England weather was unpredictable but even we can’t handle snow and hail and blazing sun in the same day.

      More generally: Combine the worries in this article with having to walk to work and you get a nightmare. In summery weather I can wear a dress (and then everyone says, “GASP! You’re wearing a dress!”) but I either have to ruin that by wearing stupidly clunky sneakers or wear flats that make my feet/calves ache. In wintery weather I have to wear everything I own and then I look frumpy and pissed off when I have to carry it around inside.

      Yay! :)

      • Thumb up 0

        Please log in to vote

        One August up here I bought an anorack and sheepskin jacket and wore them together because it was so damn cold. Two years later in September I was wearing tank tops. Basically there is no predicting out weather except that it hates us and wants us to die. (One year I had my American gf’s staying with me over Christmas because their planes were grounded and they couldn’t get home because of the snow and the previous year I almost didn’t make it home to my grandparents for the same reason).

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.