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27 April 2016 @ 10:22 am
[family] Mothers, Identity, and Self  
Fashion, Identity: Our First Role Model at Shybiker

My mother was not really my first fashion role model, but that's mostly because I didn't (and still don't) have much thought for fashion beyond function most of the time, and while I have worked to develop a bit of a fashion sense as an adult (mostly by relying on my younger sister and some dear friends to help), I really didn't give a shit as a kid. Mom never taught me to wear makeup or do my hair because I didn't care about those things.

But I remember how carefully she would dress herself for church, how she would sit and brush my long, straight hair for what felt like hours (I didn't get my riotous curls until I hit puberty), how she would apply make-up when we traveled together, how important it was for her to dress nicely. I know a lot of that came from growing up a woman when she did, being terribly shy, and growing up so desperately poor; new clothes, make-up, the money for a perm, those were things she could use to gird herself against the world.

I'm adopted. I didn't grow up seeing myself in my mother. This rang true to me still, in so many ways.

I really love Shybiker's blog, and have for a long time now.

For most of us, our mothers are our first role model. For everything including fashion. Was that the case for you?

It was for me -- which was hard 'cause I was considered a boy. Everyone, including my mother, discouraged me from emulating her. But I tried. And tried.

Eventually I realized that path was closed; I wasn't allowed to be openly like her. I did, however, pretend to be a girl in the privacy of my bathroom; I used a bath-towel as a makeshift skirt.

Lately, as I've been re-claiming a female-identity, I find connections to my mother that are surprising. For example, I vividly remember how my mother's arms had freckles. Lots and lots of freckles. I thought that was unusual -- until I started shaving hair off my arms and was shocked to see that I too have freckles on my arms. I never saw them under the hair. I suspect I have many genetic similarities with my mom.

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lilacsigil: 12 Apostleslilacsigil on April 28th, 2016 01:32 am (UTC)
I'm glad you have those memories with your mother regardless of interests and genetics. My mother was abusive to me over my weight from just before puberty onwards and would buy me clothes that were too small to "encourage" me, plus ugly and extremely cheap clothes in the right size "for the meantime". I wasn't even overweight (not that I would have deserved it if I was, and I certainly am now!), just seven inches taller than her and four sizes bigger. She never showed me how to wear make-up or do my hair or shave my legs or any of that because I was too hideous and embarrassing. I really wish, now that we have a better relationship, that she could have got over herself and shared some of that with me, because my only option was to reject femininity and be one of those "girl stuff is gross" baby feminists, unable to see the misogyny in that.
buffyfan30buffyfan30 on May 1st, 2016 10:18 pm (UTC)
Interesting. My mom was/is a bit of a tomboy, and is actually allergic to jewelry, so it really never occurred to me to wear dresses or jewelry until I was well into my 30s and started paying attention to other women. I had pierced ears but never put anything in them. It just wasn't something I thought about. Now I have graduated to earrings, one bracelet and a necklace. Getting there. Ha ha. Mom also discouraged wearing dresses because she didn't think they looked good on bigger people. I disagree and feel very pretty in a dress.