The Clothes Make the Man

And the clothes, makeup, shoes, and jewelry make the woman?

Not to perpetuate cliches or gender binary standards, but I am kind of a cliche. What I mean is as a woman I am traditionally feminine, rather than the young hipster neither-here-nor-there kind of in-betweener, jelly-beaner kind of vibe.

Because I am not young or a hipster, mainly, but also because I’ve always gravitated toward the traditionally feminine.

be ready in a minute

So to make me look the way I want to look (or as close as I can get right now to how I want to look), there are a lot of moving parts. And they all have to come together at the same time. All the time. When they do, I feel okay. When they don’t, I’d rather not go out.

Last week I was in Palm Springs at a medical joint with Carol and one of the nurses said, “Ma’am? You have to wait outside.” To me. Probably because I was wearing makeup and a skirt and bracelets and carrying a purse – the whole rigamarole. The whole picture.

The more secondary sexual characteristics – or gender visual cues – I can fling out at the world, the more likely the world is to see me as female. And I need a lot of help. Like I said, there are a lot of parts needed to make one Hannah.

Evidence of that happened the next day when I was out with Carol again, but I was wearing pants and a regular man shirt. No rigamarole. And a woman said to me, “Dude! Your hair! Women would love to have that hair. Men always have the good hair.”

So I was called “ma’am” and “dude” about 30 hours apart. My fingernails are long, my hair is long, but without the other building blocks, I was “dude.” Which is to be expected. I know I have to try real hard not to look like a dude. But even why I try real hard, I can’t erase all the dude.

And I’ll tell you, I don’t know anything about makeup. Which isn’t good for someone who needs it as much as I do. I mean, I just kind of wing it, and it’s not good. I was looking at myself the other day thinking, “I’ve got to learn how to cover this beard shadow,” because it’s a bit much.

I might be the only one who notices it, but I still don’t want it to be there on the front of my face, so I turned where everyone turns to learn something new: YouTube. And YouTube did teach me how to cover the beard shadow (a lengthy five-step process involving a bunch of products I didn’t have), but it also told me that I’m doing everything else wrong.

Which I already knew, but I don’t want to do everything wrong forever, so I’m trying to learn. And doing makeup right involves a giant pile of products, none of which come for free in cereal boxes. As a lot of you out there know all too well. One of the many things a lot of girls (and some boys) learned when they were 12 years old.

So that’s kind of where I am. Trying to learn things that 12-year-old girls are learning. But 12-year-olds have a lot of advantages over me. Like their skin isn’t all saggy and they don’t have beards. Most of them. I don’t want to generalize. 😉

But all I can do is hang in there and trust that it will get better. My makeup skills, my clothes, my body, my everything. My being. It’s just a time thing. I’ve waited half a century, but now suddenly I’m incredibly impatient about everything. Ha.

Which reminds me, last week I wrote about being nervous about going to the Desert AIDS Project to get signed up and start seeing doctors. Well, I got myself all glammed up – or rather, semi-presentable – and showed up, but the dude I was supposed to see wasn’t there. And I didn’t want to wait through their lunch hour to see someone else, so that was a wash.

All that nervousness wasted. Well, now I know where to go and what the place looks like, so maybe I’ll be less nervous next time. Eh, unlikely. But hopefully, I’ll be back down there this week.

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