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.
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. ♣