A Bad Case of the Man Hands

17 Aug

Yesterday at work someone complimented me on how “feminine” I looked.

What, exactly, does that mean?

I would have brushed it off, but that’s the second time in a few short weeks that someone has emphasized how “feminine” something makes me look.  Not pretty, attractive, lovely, soft, or other stereotypical qualities associated with my sex, but simply “feminine”.  Of or pertaining to female.  I would say it’s someone trying to avoid a sexual harassment suit while complimenting my looks, but they’ve both been women.  And older women, at that.   How am I supposed to take “Hey! You look like a girl today!”

Because I’m not taking it well.

By pointing out the times I specifically look like a female, I’m led to believe that I typically do not.  Else why draw attention to the achievement?    The first time it was mentioned, I was wearing a dress to work so I get it.  Not that it’s particularly world-stopping when I wear a dress, but rather the dresses I own are all inappropriate for work based on the super cleavage, the short hemline, or the tight waste.   On the particular day I mention, I was actually worried that I’d be scolded for bringing this dress to the workplace, but it was my birthday and I ventured I could get away with it. 

And since it was my boss who commented thus, I’d say I did.

The second incident was yesterday, when I decided to wear a blouse with flowers on it.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not typically a blouse-with-flowers-on-it kinda gal.  But it was one of those days when everything else I owned was dirty and I could either resolve to do laundry or to wear a flower blouse.   And since I have a long, sordid history of buying entire packs of new underwear before I’ll do laundry, the flower blouse certainly won.

And subsequently led to a new complex.

It's probably my hands. A close look at a 5th grade photo of me with brother, who was born a smiley face, reveals startlingly mannish hands.

I’m not sure what’s typically unfeminine about me.  I’ve really lightened up on my tomboyish ways.  These days I’m wearing makeup,

jewelry, headbands and – yes, from time to time – the occasional flower shirt.  And since I’m doing all of these stereotypically feminine things, I’m led to believe that it’s simply me.

It’s me.  I look like a man.

I must.  Why else would two people take the time to point out that I look like a female on these days in question?  It’s because I was doing something that detracted from my mannish features.  And thank heavens I let a little femininity shine through; I wonder if the office was starting to question my gender.

Maybe they always wondered and never asked because I work in Diversity. 

Oh dear.  What if they think I’m a transexual?  Are they wondering? Do they have questions?

I don’t know how to combat this.  Perhaps I’ll add a tagline to my signature in work emails: “Female since 1986!” or how about “Hey! Sometimes I wear skirts!” or “Nope, not a tranny!”  I could also plaster my corkboard with pictures of me and my boyfriend.  I’m typically  a no-nonsense-office-decorations kind of gal, but if it will straighten out a few lingering questions in the office, I might give it a go.  Maybe I could just go up to one of the male Summer Interns one day and sexually harass him in front of the cube farm. 

I suppose that would give me troubles of an entirely different sort. 



15 Responses to “A Bad Case of the Man Hands”

  1. Lori August 17, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    The irony is not lost on me that you are wearing what could almost be considered a “flower blouse” in this 5th grade photo.


    • Jules August 17, 2011 at 11:08 am #



  2. egills August 17, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Those hands don’t look mannish to me… nice long slender delicate hands, perfect for playing the piano.
    Maybe it’s because you were wearing something so out of the norm and they were trying to make you feel good about wearing a new style?


  3. Sarah T. August 17, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Wow, your brother looks freakishly tall even back then! And I’m with egills, they were probably just complimenting something out of the ordinary for you and trying to sound encouraging. And you don’t have man hands!


  4. pegoleg August 17, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    When I first saw the picture I thought you were holding a Jedi sword ala Luke Skywalker.


  5. Missjlouise August 17, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL I just can’t stop laughing ……


  6. thesinglecell August 17, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I’ve always been flummoxed by this particular comment, too. Mostly because I often wear dresses or skirts, I almost always wear heels and I definitely always wear makeup. I think “feminine” is a catch-all word that encompasses all the other things you mentioned but is used because those other words aren’t quite precisely what the person is thinking. And it’s never a guy who says it. They say you look “nice.” Or “fancy.” (that’s my favorite. “You look fancy.” ???)

    Anyway, I’m sure nobody things you’re a manly-looking tranny. If anything, you’re clearly a girly-looking one.


    • Missjlouise August 17, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      lol@ girly looking tranny! So glad I subscribed to this blog this is the best email I’ve had all week


  7. Jules August 17, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Jackie Jackie Jackie….there is just no way to please you, is there? 😀

    On the other hand, why don’t you add to your email tag line, ” sent from my **** “.
    There is nothing I LOVE MORE than knowing what type of of device you used to send
    that email. Oh wait… on second thought, I don’t give a flying crap. People can go shove those iphones and androids up their bum. k thx


  8. Lian August 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    I’d say send everyone an email. Dear collegues, in case you were wondering: I’m female!


  9. Flying Yenta August 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Hilarious post. And I see no ambiguity at all in the photo!


  10. gypsy August 24, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Oh my gosh I am crying.. that was too funny! I love your tagline possibilities..

    I grew up around alot of dainty girls. I have perfect model looking cousins (who have children who have been models since birth).. I have a mother who forever hated me because (her words) I was not the daughter she wanted.

    When I was in my early 20s I discovered more.. I walked by a group of Russian Gypsies, who actually thought I was part of their family.. I realized I no doubt favor the Russian side of my family.. and found that is definitely not a bad thing.

    Now pondering the “feminine” comments by older folks at your workplace.. another reason could be their age, how they grew up.. Different eras have different wording to a compliment, that can sound like an insult to a younger person. I worked in a nursing home when I was a kid, so i was accustomed to the phrases of people who were born in the late 1800s and early 1900s more so than people who were born in my own decade.

    So strong build, strong hands, strong jaw, strong nose.. etc.. is just a strong feature, one that people from time to time admire, or find undesirable.. oh I know a good example of that.. another flashback..

    When I was in elementary school (keep in mind this was the 1970s).. our “sex ed” class .. we were seperted into a room of girls and a room of boys. In the girls room we were given coupons to order a feminine hygiene kit, then told what our future options were.. secretary, teacher, maybe a nurse.. and then the rest of the class involved being a model.. with very specific details on what would be approved as a model. Basically think of a Barbie Doll.. since only blonde hair, blue eyes, strong cheekbones, delicate features were approved.. no scars, no moles, etc.. Note this is also before Brooke Shields became popular, and it was a big deal that she had such heavy eyebrows when she became famous..

    Go back future to Marilyn Monroe, she was a beautiful brunette, who bleached her hair to become a model/actress..

    So many women who are the most memorable are the ones who broke a standard, who have something different.

    As the old saying goes beauty is in the eye of the beholder, my mother would add the word “obviously” as she would insult me for not being a blond haired blue eyed beauty like my cousins.

    So celebrate those “man hands”.. you will look back and love them!


    • gypsy August 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      ack I hate making type-os.. note “future” my brain intended to say “further”.. alas I will not go over all my errors.. just please bear with..brain went on its own journey & fingers did not follow.


      • Jackie August 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

        haha no worries – tis the least of my concerns. I’m just happy to have you contribute!


    • Jackie August 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      I love this – thank you so much for sharing 🙂


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