These illustrations represent my emotions in situations like school dances, where the gender binary was expected to be followed. I longed to escape, and to express what I felt inside me—not what was expected of me.
Behind closed doors, trying on a dress I’d snatched from my sister’s closet (or heels from my mom’s) was a regular activity.
When I left my room, I also had to leave that part of me that craved femininity, that was consistently begging to come through. Over time, I began to loathe any sort of formal event that involved “dressing up.” Church. Weddings. SCHOOL DANCES.
The very things that were meant to be celebrated and fun were agonizing. I couldn’t dance without thinking about how I could be twirling around in a skirt, rather than feeling stuck in a stiff, boring suit.
But after a long night of awkwardly meandering my way through a crowd in a suit that I wanted to rip off the second I looked in the mirror, I knew there was somewhere to return—
my little sanctuary of secret femininity, where I could twirl in a skirt to my heart’s content and not fear disapproving eyes or very confused parents.
Even though a large part of my identity was found and expressed when I was alone in my room, prancing around in forbidden garments was electrifying. ♦