What binds us together: clothing + the womanhood beneath it

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The first time I wore lip gloss, I was in the 7th grade. I wore it to church and I was absolutely terrified, a thief’s fear of being caught red-handed. All I wanted was to make it through the service without anyone saying a word.

I finally thought I had gone under the radar when I heard my friend’s voice, loud and teasing, walking towards me, practically shouting Hannah’s wearing lip gloss! My little girl is growing up! And I really thought I might shrivel up and die.

And I vowed to myself, in that moment, that I would never draw attention to myself as a woman ever again. The embarrassment was more than I could handle. And my little blossoming womanhood stifled itself into a hole, deep within myself.

I didn’t wear lip gloss again until six years later.

It’s easy to forget you’re a girl. Once you shove something deep enough in you it’ll start to take root there, tired of fighting its way to the surface. I buried being a girl for as long as I could, hiding it under baggy t-shirts and jeans, my entertaining personality and boldness. Girls cared too much about what other people thought, cared too much about how they looked in the mirror, cared too much in general, and I wanted none of that. No one would dare tell me I care “too much” because that girl label was not for me.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that my fear started to cave. My love for high heels and pretty hairdos and feeling elegant and sexy as hell had been my little secret for 18 years, hiding beneath how I told people I was a “tomboy” and “I can’t walk in heels to save my life.” (That part is true, but that doesn’t stop me from loving them.) I wore heels for work weekly that year, getting my sea legs, and growing confident in a blouse and pencil skirt. I had never felt more empowered.

Earlier today I read Esther Emery’s The Song of Girls Who Don’t Wear Dressesand while I have grown to love dresses with a deep and abiding affection, I resonated so deeply with her passion and fierceness. While her desires motivated her to wear belts and tank tops and spiky hair, that same feeling is what inspires me to wear heels and curl my hair and put on lipstick. And even though our outward appearance may look different, our passions unite us. And that’s a really beautiful thing, to find a kindred spirit beneath a different skin.

Dear friend: however you wear your hair, no matter how short your skirt or loose your jeans, whether you wear jewelry or a baseball cap, I hope you empower yourself to feel determined, smart, strong, and totally badass. Because whatever we might look like on the outside, it’s the kindred spirit beneath us that binds us together.

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6 thoughts on “What binds us together: clothing + the womanhood beneath it

  1. Going old school here and responding by email- love you, proud of you, and it’s meaningful to see this as a piece of your history now since I watched it unfold. “Determined, smart, strong, and totally badass”….yes!

    I miss you, dear friend. Are you going home for Thanksgiving break?

  2. Thanks for this. Not only do your words speak to my heart as a tomboy, but I also liked one of your parting lines: “And that’s a really beautiful thing, to find a kindred spirit beneath a different skin.” I’ve been pondering some similar concepts lately, and I thought you put it simply and perfectly.

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