More Generational Than Gender: When Roots Dictate Style

feature image via demurefolk

Going Down (South) is a regular column about y’all being a gender neutral pronoun, how red states are actually more of a purplish color, boiled peanuts, and the trials and tribulations of being a rural homo — with an emphasis on the tribbing.


Header by Rosa Middleton

In every lesbian circle, there’s that one annoying Fencepost Lesbian. You’ll know her by the way she sticks up her nose when someone asks her “type” or “gender identity.” Her responses to those inquiries are as sassy and ambiguous as she is. “Not anyone who asks me that question,” “your beautiful mother” and “Butch, please.”

I am that annoying Fencepost Lesbian.

A Fencepost Lesbian in her natural habitat

It’s not so much about me being mysterious and elusive as it is about labels refusing to stick. When discussing my manner of dress, the “masculine-of-center” label is reluctant to adhere. Fashion is a monetary privilege and an understanding of gender is an educational one. My ambiguity comes from growing up poor and not having access to either of those things until college.

By that point, I already knew that nothing felt better than an oxford button-down tucked into a belted pair of dark denim jeans. When people casually ask those questions, it reaffirms that they have no idea where I’m coming from. More often than not, a snarky answer is easier — and less painful — than a long spiel.

I wear a lot of things that I was raised on: Hardened brown leather, canvas, cotton button-downs, tough denim jeans, khaki pants, bandanas. But despite the masculine connotations behind those materials, my clothing does not have a gender. There are too many threads about family interwoven with those of the fabric.

What my clothing has is a generation.


My mom raised me as a single parent while working a custodial job. For us, Southern poverty wasn’t an evening news statistic; it was a reality. While she owned sundresses, they were tucked into the back of a closet. She wore jeans and flannel button-downs. Sleeves could be rolled up; pantlegs could be cuffed. They allowed her to move while scrubbing office floors on all fours. The clothing she began to accumulate was durable and purely utilitarian.

Fonsexxxa circa 1994

Unsurprisingly, my clothing choices began to mirror hers. My favorite outfits consisted of recreation complex t-shirts and grass-stained denim. After all, there were trees that begging to be climbed and Junebugs that needed to be tied to strings. I was Huckleberry Finn, but with a ponytail and a marginally better grasp on grammar.

I didn’t know it at the time, but these little moments would eventually shape me into an androgynous young woman.

“You look like Huck Finn.” – A girl, post-fling, August 2012

While the dominant image surrounding chivalry is that of a knight in chain mail, the noble figures peppered throughout my adolescence were these impoverished Southern women who did what they damned well pleased. The ones who made meals for the widowers; who tilled their own gardens and mowed their own lawns; who never expected anything in return for their efforts.

They were unpolished, unorthodox, and railed against traditional notions of femininity.

The crux of being an androgynous woman is that I am also very naïve. While I am aware that sexism exists, I still travel solo and walk home alone at night without so much as an afterthought. I move through society so fluidly that I forget that there is anything which I cannot do. So when someone tells me that an article of clothing, a hobby, or even safety is off-limits because I am a woman, it is a painful epiphany; one which I will keep on experiencing repeatedly throughout life because gender roles are still such a foreign concept to me.

As a kid, I came to hate dresses because of this.

I was crowbar’d into a dress each Sunday morning for church. My distaste had little to do with the white lace. I began associating dresses with sitting in a hard pew for three hours and listening to a droning sermon. They evoked the loneliness of watching the boys, in their khakis and Ralph Lauren sweaters, playing on the church’s swingset while I stood off to the side in my wedding cake of a Sunday dress. Swinging wasn’t “ladylike” or “appropriate.”

I didn’t give a damn about gender or tradition. I just wanted to move freely.

And I still do.

“It’s the way you wear your pants.” – A friend, on why she thought I was gay, spring 2008

While financial situations change and my knowledge of gender is now so extensive that it could be printed and circle the globe five times, I still wear the worn-in jeans and plaid blouses. They are as comfortable as family; as the 71 year-old mother who called me earlier this week, excited over her recent dollar store find: A neckerchief with a built-in ice pack that — when frozen — could be worn while doing yard work.

Can “clever old Southern woman” be a gender identity?

If so, count me in.


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Sarah Fonseca’s essays, book reviews, and film writing have appeared in Black Warrior Review, cléo: a journal of film and feminism, Posture Magazine, and them. Catch her obsessing over Eartha Kitt at

sarah has written 57 articles for us.


  1. The statement that fashion is a monetary privilege really resonates with me. I’m a senior in college, and my parents were in finance at the time that that went kablooey. Ergo, >3/4 of my clothes are left over from my 9th grade year at a christian private school. My friends have jobs for pocket money, I have jobs to pay my tuition. It frustrates me how, in queer circles, your identity is so tied up in your clothing, because I’ve never had the luxury of burning my godly, modest dresses and skirts and polo shirts in a glorious conflagration and investing in button downs and doc martens and bow ties. You can’t do an ALH when your hair is cut by your bestie with office scissors in the common room of her dorm!

    On the bright side, nothing motivates you to stay in shape better than the fact that if you gain 10 pounds you will be walking around naked due to your fiscal inability to buy clothes in larger sizes than a juniors’ 1.

  2. Amen. Beautifully written.

    I am a fellow Southern queer whose clothing choices were dictated more often by necessity than novelty. Growing up on a farm, jeans, t-shirts, and flannel button ups were a staple of my wardrobe. I may not be driving tractors anymore, but I still wear the clothes that will always feel like home.

  3. Wait, a neckerchief-ice-pack? Holy shit y’all, that’s amazing. I need one for work–working outside in this summer’s heat was no joke.

    On a more serious note, thanks for writing this, Fonseca. Before I was grown and off to college, I didn’t really understand why Doc Martens and flannel shirts were considered “gay”, when to me it meant you lived in the country, worked outdoors, and/or valued sturdy clothes–all common things where I grew up in the South. On the other hand, I also hated being forced into dresses for more formal occasions and was very thankful that my parents didn’t care much about going to church…

    • Me too! Whenever I go home I try to dress extra gay in order to be read as gay, but it never works! Because plaid shirts and bandannas and boots are standard female wardrobe in the country.

    • YES I wore flannel shirts and doc martens almost exclusively when I was younger and never thought about them having any kind of gendered tag on them. My parents always bought all of us kids the same clothes, boys and girls, and it made sense bc we did a lot of camping/hiking/outdoorsy stuff. And I just wore that stuff to school too, bc why not?

  4. “Why are you wearing that?!”
    “Because it’s comfortable.”

    Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

    Great article.

  5. I really, really love that we finally have a contributor who does not live on the East or West Coast. I’m from the Midwest but everything you write resonates so much with me! I think we come from very similar backgrounds. That is, growing up poor, having trees and rivers as a playground instead of malls and city streets, and second-hand jeans and t-shirts as wardrobe.

    So yeah, my concept of “fashion” was (and maybe still is) very limited. And now, working in youth development on a social worker’s salary, when I see Autostraddle posts telling me to buy $100 blazers and $500 dollar boots in order to be a fashionable queer lady, I just laugh. So thanks for acknowledging that fashion is a financial privilege. And thanks for writing these great articles!

    • IAWTC. It’s really good to hear from fellow Southern working class/poor folks. I was economically privileged in that I had a grandmother who had money, so essentially all of my clothes came from what my grandmother chose buy for me or my older sister, which had a huge effect I feel on my gender identity and it’s formation. Maybe I should write about that!

  6. –Fashion is a monetary privilege and an understanding of gender is an educational one.

    –I wear a lot of things that I was raised on.

    This essay resonates with me so much. Thank you for writing it and putting into better perspective some of the feelings I’ve been struggling with in an attempt to reconcile my identity and my clothes. When the only option is often the utilitarian choice it’s hard to construct a presentation that lines up how the world sees me with how I see myself.

    Being read on appearance alone is a luxury I cannot afford, except maybe piece by piece. I put so much of myself into the cheap find with even the most subtle hints of queerness and wear it till it wears.

    Despite that I might want to shop and expand my wardrobe to include more and representative items, I’ve become attached to the solutions I fashioned out of the things I was raised on, too. It is comfortable because it is worn. And it reads, for me at least, the struggles that I have survived and the queerness that I have grown more comfortable in over time. I still might not read queer but I read me. My wardrobe has changed little but I have changed so much.

  7. Loved this, particularly the “fashion is a monetary privilege and an understanding of gender is an educational one” line.

  8. Amen. Amen.
    I’m loving this.
    You put it so much more eloquently than I do, when someone (usually a lesbian) comments on my men’s shirt or men’s oxfords, etc. I just always snarl, “Clothing isn’t gendered, [insert random expletive here].”

  9. Oh wow, I’ve been thinking about this but more on the femme end of things. When I was younger I was definitely more androgynous/butch-esque – not because I was feeling particularly butch, but because I did not want the femininity that was being pushed onto me, this idea of the Sweet Pious Muslim Lady who does not think about sex at all and always has a hijab on and doesn’t speak up lest she becomes a threat to national security. Also my school uniform had a skirt and it was fugly. So in my mini-feminist fervour I rejected all of it: the clothes, the makeup, the shoes, the attitude, anything that would have marked me as “lady” I ran away from.

    What (didn’t) help was that there was nothing available for me attirewise anyway. Growing up in Malaysia meant everything was small, slim, flat: my boobs and curves automatically made me an X+L, which meant only tents for outfits. I had a larger shoe size with wide feet which made shoe shopping impossible – so even now when I find a shoe that fits I wear it everywhere until it is beyond repair. All the beauty products had skin-lightening properties, because Dark Skin Is BAD. I couldn’t keep up, so I didn’t.

    It took me until 2006-8 to wear a skirt willingly. I got tired of pants-only. Now I have dresses (!!!) in my wardrobe. I found femme politics and really resonated with them – esp femmes of colour – and found that what people were calling “femme” I saw inherently in my Bangladeshi family. Taking up space, self-assertive, caretaking. I wasn’t raised in my culture so I only saw the periphery, but when I saw femme I saw my aunts. They aren’t queer (not that I know of anyway) and probably didn’t deliberately choose to act the way they do. But it still fits.

    I’m still trying to make my mind up about butch/femme/etc. Mostly because I see them as Western-centric and as I said my family’s femme by default (and not the same sort of ‘feminine’ I grew up with in Malaysia). Funny how the behaviours that got us told ‘you’re doing it wrong’ because we’re Bengali are now embraced because it’s ‘femme’…but will the racial context be embraced too?

    • Wow, your comment is brilliant. I wish I could “like” it more than once! The part about rejecting feminine things as a young person before finding femme politics is one that really ressonates with me, and it was awesome to read about your family! Your relatives sound fantastic.

    • \o/ fellow Muslim here; definitely hear you on the Muslim/gay/femme/androgynous issue. I’m Arab, but I’m pretty sure the whole desexualizing of men and women in Malaysia is pretty much the same in Arabia.

      • OMG YES. Especially during SlutWalk (which I was actively involved with) I kept hearing about how POC get sexualised and I’m thinking “not where I’m from!”

  10. PREACH! I have spent the last few years trying to develop style because you just gotta have style and really at the end of the day there are four clothing items that I really need a good t-shirt or polo, a pair of jeans, my chuck taylors, and a wristwatch. I guess it makes me a boi, but in reality I don’t have a gender identity, I dress for functionality.

  11. Thank you so much for this, Fonseca! I loved the article. What a fresh outlook on style! Thanks for providing a different angle of looking at things, it resonates with me 100 %. As a person that identifies neither butch nor femme, I only dress the way that feels most comfortable, most ´me´. My sense of style and what I feel comfortable wearing constantly changes…

    Don´t you dare put me in a box!

  12. Thank you for this article. I’m a laid-back femme overall, but on the days I “dress down”, it’s because deep-down, I’m still that adventuresome stubborn farm girl from Iowa.

  13. I love this article, I have to dress down for my job and I’ve found I really love it! I went through a skirt/dress/heels phase in college but now I’m finding I can still be pretty and femme and wear jeans a v-neck and tennis shoes. It is very empowering to be able to embrace your body and your style!

  14. This article has really made me think. I’m a 45 year-old woman, mom to 3, and a full-time college student. I’m also bisexual. I was raised by parents who were hippies, and we lived in numerous places along the west coast while I was growing up, always out in the country. I wore jeans, t-shirts, and flannel shirts the majority of the time, played with trucks and an occasional barbie, but don’t recall being traumatized when my two skinny-dipping barbies floated downstream and disappeared forever; I remember being focused on the dam I was building in the creek instead. I moved to LA when I was 18, was exposed to the last dregs of the punk scene (including skin heads) and discovered doc martins, which I have been wearing ever since. I wear them with jeans and dresses, not really giving much thought to how I am perceived by others. People take care of that for me, feeling compelled to comment on my attire. Dressing out of the norm for a woman my age, as well as not fitting into any gender category (I am feminine in some ways, not so much in others) has advantages as well as disadvantages. Males seem to be intimidated by the boots especially, which is beneficial at times; however, females also appear to be intimidated by my attire, although it is neither revealing (generally speaking) nor flashy; this has proven to be somewhat disadvantageous, as far as making friends. The fact that what we wear has such an impact on peoples’ perceptions of who we are is pretty disturbing.

  15. “Fashion is a monetary privilege and an understanding of gender is an educational one.”

    YES! I wish more people understood this and I’d love to see another article exploring this in depth.

  16. i thought this was very well written.
    its also nice to see an article that talks about gender and gender presentation that isn’t neatly divided into male/female. because so often, it isn’t.

  17. i saw fonseca live and in person for the first time at a-camp a few days ago and had to resist the urge to floor her with all of my feelings about her jeans + belt + shoes situation.

    “Can “clever old Southern woman” be a gender identity?”

    yes. fonseca i love it when you write about the south.

  18. This right here is the story of my life:

    “While I am aware that sexism exists, I still travel solo and walk home alone at night without so much as an afterthought. I move through society so fluidly that I forget that there is anything which I cannot do.”

    I feel weird and uncomfortable in any clothing that’s meant to make a statement (whether it’s “I’m butch”, “I’m femme”, or “I’m sexy”) rather than to provide me with protection from the weather (and pockets. Pockets are important.)

    As far as I’m concerned, any gender presentation is more trouble than it’s worth. Is there a form somewhere where I can opt out altogether?

    • “As far as I’m concerned, any gender presentation is more trouble than it’s worth. Is there a form somewhere where I can opt out altogether?”


  19. I wish I could show this article to the girl I went to high school with who spent at least a year telling me I needed a makeover, that it would be a good idea if I went through an “image change.” Interestingly, following her spreading rumors at school that I’m a lesbian, I start fully questioning my sexuality. (I might have anyway.) What, my flared jeans, random t-shirts (or long sleeved tshirts, if it’s cold), and converse sneakers aren’t good enough for you?

  20. “Fashion is a monetary privilege and an understanding of gender is an educational one.”

    Well said. I also grew up in a low-income family (lots of hand-me-downs, y’all) and I didn’t start to express my gender identity actively until I had money of my own and a college education.

  21. This is so well-written. As someone who has always had a hand-me-down wardrobe and who’s clothes often fit funny because we would air dry them (to cut down the energy bill), I really appreciate your recognition that fashion is an economic privilege. As much as I love Autostraddle’s fashion guides, they (as well as style blogs, etc) often leave me feeling like I’ll never have the dough to really express myself via style.

    The good news is that Goodwill and Value Village are really great! Get good at thrifting and you can find some cheap treasures amidst all the duds. Another thing I find really practical and fun is sewing/reusing/repurposing clothes. It’s way cheaper than shopping and allows you to personalize your clothes and keep wearing them longer! I think in way it’s very anti-capitalist and queer. You don’t have to adhere to trends or look like you spend a lot of money in order to look awesome. It’s sucky that fashion is a privilege, but we can fight that!

    • Air-drying makes your clothes smell better! When I go “home,” I usually just go to the laundromat to wash my shit, then bring it back to the house and pin it to the clothesline. My neighbors totally throw theirs over the fence surrounding their home. #nofucksgiven

      • I air dry most of my clothes because I’ve had too many shrink irreparably in the dryer. Consequently, it baffled me when I was living overseas and one of the other expats I knew acted as though her greatest hardship was to hang her clothing out to dry on her roof.

    • We didn’t have a dryer for most of my life, so I always air dry my clothes! They never shrink, fade less and last longer (for real).

    • This is a weird question and I’m not trying to be snarky but… what does air drying have to do with ill-fitting clothes? Where I live most people don’t use drying machines, they just hang their clothes to dry, and we’re ok?

      • Where I live it will be warm enough for the clothes to technically dry but not warm enough for them to completely regain their form, since its so humid here. So some things, like cotton teeshirts, don’t fit as close to form because they’re still…soggy on a molecular level? or something like that? I know exactly what she’s talking about and its not that the clothes are wet, they’re just not…dry?

  22. Awesome- I love seeing Southern perspectives on AS. Also, there is NOTHING wrong with cultivating Huck Finn or Strong Southern Lady as a fashion icon. Totally following in the fine tradition of Idgie Threadgoode as aforementioned, Willa Cather’s Jim, Rosie the Riveter, etc etc.

    • Ruth Jamison had mad style, too. More sass than swagger, but there was totally an air of confidence under those wide-brimmed straw hats of hers.

  23. Thank you for sharing your story fonseca. Although I am a bit older than you, this story really resonated with me. As a person who also grew up in poverty I can say that this story holds much truth. For those of us who grew up without cars (sometimes phones) and later found education was possible by putting yourself into much debt…our new perspective offers us great wisdom, but not always respect.

  24. I can definitely relate to this on many levels. I can’t remember that my family was very poor when I grew up. But looking back, we kinda were. With my mum working two part time jobs and my dad only doing seasonal jobs, I grew up inheriting my brother’s clothes.

    While all the other girls wore frilly underwear with ribbons and bows, I wore the underwear my brother had grown out of. I definitely still had a few garments that where purchased for me. But it didn’t take long until I realized that what my brother wore was much more practical for playing. And by the time I stopped inheriting his clothes I only wanted button downs and jeans.

    To me, and to my parents I am sure, these clothes weren’t gendered but kid friendly. But I would often get remarks from other kids (or their parents) about how I dressed. Especially after I was eight and had a crush on a girl with short hair and cut mine like hers.

    Even though I was the odd one out at my school it is very easy to confuse straight women in my town for butch gay women.

  25. “Fashion is a monetary privilege and an understanding of gender is an educational one.”


  26. The “culture as gender identity” thing reminded me of how for me I really buy into gender-as-social-construct because, in my experience moving around the world, *what constitutes as gender* is so country-specific.

    In Malaysia (and possibly Bangladesh with my limited understanding of it) gender is more like a job role. To be “male” or “female” meant a certain level and style of family providership. Some traits that are gender-specific in other countries work differently there – for example, vanity is both feminine AND masculine; it’s manly to care about your appearance. My dad has more skin products than I do. In Bangladesh all I have to do is *not* wear a salwhar khameez or a saree to be read first as “male” then as “foreign” – almost another gender identity altogether. There is “hijra”, which is not really totally synonymous with “trans woman” as the culture and themselves tend to regard them as a third gender. there are some places, like Afghanistan, where something akin to a “trans man” exists, but it’s also culturally specific and not an easy analogue.

    If “genderqueer” existed as a concept in Malaysia I would be it automatically, but since it’s still a binary I’m mostly “doing female wrong”. In the Western world it’s easier to just be female – a feminist, unconventional version thereof, but still *female* – but I also notice a subtle pressure to be genderqueer, as if that would make me more queer or something.

    I was reading about third-gender people in the Pacific islands recently and there was a part about how the idea of using makeup and attire as gender markers was a recent Western import. Back in the day if you were born male and wanted to take on the female identity, that largely meant you now did the housework. Also speech such as “I was born male but am now female” is a lot common than “I was assigned male at birth but have been female the whole time” – partly because of ESL-related issues, but also because of the social-role function of gender. A job description, more than anything.

  27. Yeeessssss. “My clothing doesn’t have a gender” – these words mean a lot to me.
    Since coming out about a year ago, I’ve had such a clothing-related identity crisis. Whenever I read these queer fashion articles (which are awesome and I love, btw) that suggest options for feminine or masculine identifying people I feel so torn because I want to wear all the looks, and look super queer, but I don’t want to openly identify as either.

    I loved girly things as a kid, but my parents were extremely thrifty, outdoorsy, practical people. So now, I usually look pretty boyish, and it surprises people when they see me in a dress. But it has nothing to do with gender. It’s just that sometimes I wanna look like I know how to light a campfire, and sometimes I wanna look like Audrey Hepburn, that’s all.

    • I really love this article. And I love that so many people have commented that it resonates with them, because yay! Me too.

      Growing up, I wore a lot of jeans and cheap t-shirts, and whatever my mom decided to sew for me. We lived in the woods and I liked to play outside. I was not aware of gender roles very much. They took up very little space in my brain. They take up more space now, because of life experiences and education both inside and outside the classroom, but I can’t start making them apply to myself, not when I grew up without all of that. I was me, I wasn’t girlish or boyish. However I dress now, even if I wear a dress, inside I feel fairly genderless, or at least, without labeled gender. And I do think it was my mom’s influence as well, who never was very “feminine” I suppose, but who represented “the way to dress” when I was younger. And the way I dress IS severely limited by my budget, which is very small and mostly student loans. I’m living in Seattle and I can’t afford to buy the boots and raincoat I will need very very soon. Yay. My gender is “thrift store”, I guess.

      But anyway, before I got on that self-pity rant, I just wanted to say thanks for writing this. It was really refreshing, when I often feel that, much as I love everyone here, even the “cheap” clothing talked about here is WAY out of my price range. It’s confusing when everyone talks about not having money and then we’re talking about buying $100 boots because they seem queer and fashionable…

      Haha I don’t mean to sound bitter. I guess this article just made me think about some things I’ve had problems with before. :]

      • I really agree, if I hear one more time “just go shop at J.Crew! They have the best clothes!” I will die. That shit is expensive? Aren’t we all poor college students/artists/anarchists? How do we afford those prices?

    • DID NOT MEAN TO REPLY TO THIS HAHA. Tonight is not my night. :P

      ALSO though, I did want to say to Smasha that my style varies too, and a good way to put it, taking inspiration from you, is that sometimes I want to look like Audrey Hepburn and sometimes like Katherine Hepburn. :)

  28. They evoked the loneliness of watching the boys, in their khakis and Ralph Lauren sweaters, playing on the church’s swingset while I stood off to the side in my wedding cake of a Sunday dress. Swinging wasn’t “ladylike” or “appropriate.”

    omfg!!!!!! story of my life, every fucking party, family event, etc. those dresses were fucking prison, i hated wearing them, still do. pants were the freedom 5 year old me yearned for!

    i get all of this article and i love it

  29. I was curious at the beginning, wondering why this girl is hating on label refusals… Then I kept reading! Hah. I agree that there is a lot to androgyny being practical clothing. But that doesn’t always imply a lack of style, no. In fact I like dressing for comfort and durability. I like wearing clothes down to the bone. Most start out as long thick fabrics, and over the years get worn down, get cut up/ sewn up to summer wear, and then when nothing else can be done with them, they become cleaning rags. That’s how my mama taught me.

    Also, I was really digging what was said about gliding through society, and having a feeling of imperviousness. I’ve been living in south city st Louis now for three years; home to gay culture, various ethnic cultures, and poor culture. At night, if I’m walking, I think of how I was taught that women were prey for the picking. Women were weak that society’s deviants were going to ravage. I guess I believed them, but that was before I knew that I was a deviant myself.

    Not to say that the world is all sunshine and songbirds, because my over confidence has gotten me into sticky situations before, but honestly that’s why I’m really glad to have taken self defense classes. That, and adrenaline.

    Honestly, when I came to the realization that I wanted to spend my life partnered w women, I started exploring the world of activities and skills usually reserved for men because I wanted these under belt of I was gonna have a lady to tug at it :)

    Thus began building coat racks, bookshelves, bed frames, and a wobbly chair. Learned about plumbing (kind of boring, very smelly) and how electricity really works (absolutely fascinating, surprisingly simple). I really enjoyed this world of mechanical thinking. A friend asked with curiousity if these things made me feel like a man; wouldn’t you know it,

    It made me feel like a much stronger woman.
    I guess that’s the root of being not wanting to adhere to labels
    or gender roles- once I found out just how easy one can cross those lines in the sand (and you can skip over, crawl over, even cartwheel over), it just seemed silly to keep them around.

  30. Very interesting made me consider a lot of things in ways I hadn’t before.

    Also the reason I don’t wear dresses is no pockets. I cannot live without pockets!

  31. I loved this article.

    Especially this. “I was Huckleberry Finn, but with a ponytail and a marginally better grasp on grammar.”

    I’m not sure, it just reminds me of the days when I was the ultimate tomboy, running around barefoot with a pack of boys, proudly showing off the grass stains/holes in my jeans. Those were the days. I somehow got boxed into the gendered, almost girly way of dressing for years, and I’m finally breaking out of it. Anyways. I just liked the way this article was written.

  32. “The crux of being an androgynous woman is that I am also very naïve. While I am aware that sexism exists, I still travel solo and walk home alone at night without so much as an afterthought. I move through society so fluidly that I forget that there is anything which I cannot do. So when someone tells me that an article of clothing, a hobby, or even safety is off-limits because I am a woman, it is a painful epiphany; one which I will keep on experiencing repeatedly throughout life because gender roles are still such a foreign concept to me.”

    Although I don’t think anyone would suggest that I’m androgynous, this resonates with me. Perhaps it’s because I was homeschooled by parents who were particularly bad at being fundamentalists (lets just say I got both tea sets and toy cars handed down to me from my older brother) but I’ve never associated clothes or gender with what I could or couldn’t do. It threw me for a bit of loop the other day when I was out with law school classmates and one of the guys offered to walk me to my car as we were leaving; walking alone at night isn’t something I think about. When I moved to the developing world, people would ask me if my parents had a problem with it. My reply that they’d been there done that already with my older brother so they were used to it was met with the idea that because I’m a girl they must have a harder time, which was a concept I’d never considered.

    So what if I’m a female person who wears heels and dresses half the time, why should that have any bearing on what I do or don’t do in my life? I wear whatever I feel like and I do whatever I feel like and bumping into the idea that that’s not proper somehow simply doesn’t fit in with how I’ve ever lived.

  33. I saw you poolside and around camp and thought nothing unusual about your clothes, which were as described – an expression of self and comfort. I tilt towards jeans, corduroys and canvas or worn loafers, so your clothes were vaguely familiar to me.

  34. if this involved more southern synogogues and a strong tomboy femme label, it would be my life. as it is, still pretty close. hollla!

  35. Great article, great fashion sense. My only issue is that actually, poor people CAN access fashion. Handmedowns and thrifting are definitely sources of amazing, creative and badass fashion.

  36. this is interesting. as someone who grew up not having a great deal of money for extras, i learned to be thrifty, to bargain and negotiate, to be resourceful, and most important of all, to be creative to achieve whatever look i was after. yes i’m from the “east coast” (new york ALL day baby!) and there is probably a lot more clothing at different price levels to choose from due to the sheer volume of people in the nyc area, but many places all over the country have a salvation army, a good will, and mom and pop thrift stores. i got these fantastic vintage leather boots from a thrift store in the east village for $30 that i took to a shoe repair place and had fixed up so they were good as new. and being vintage, they were of better quality and more durable then similar contemporary boots i saw being sold for $150 to $250. i also shop on ebay, online vintage retail stores, and designer resale stores for a lot of cheap vintage, not so vintage, and reasonably priced designer shoes, bags, and clothing. these online shops are accessible to everyone (at least in america, to my knowledge) no matter how remote their locale is. to be honest, just from reading this thread it seems like a lot of posters here use clothing more for utilatarian and functional purposes then anything else, which is cool, but lack of money is not as much of a roadblock to fashion as people like to think. i think fashion and utilizing your clothing to exhibit your personal style, gender, etc. is definitely achievable without much money and a lot of creativity.

  37. Reading this was hearing you say a dozen things my mind has been trying to put into words for years. Thank you.

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