Sharing an email.
Please do publish this on your blog if you see fit – I would like some opinions from your readers.
I’m am a 28 year old woman living in Bangalore. I am built rather small – I’m skinny and flat chested. I have short hair and don’t wear make up or jewellery. At the workplace I wear formal shirts and trousers (minus jewellery) when requires. Otherwise, I’m generally dressed in T shirts and jeans/shorts. At the ocassional wedding that I do attend, I wear ethnic clothes but this rarely happens more than once a year.
I like the way I look – I have no desire to change my appearance. I feel unnatural and uncomfortable in dresses/skirts/salwars/sarees/traditionally female clothes. I identify as female and do not have gender dysphoria. I simply enjoy dressing casual. No personal hygiene issues, my clothes are always clean.
However, I’m perpetually at the receiving end of comments from my female friends /co workers/ acquantainces/ relatives/enemies/ etc regarding my appearance.
Typical examples of comments:
“Why are you like THIS? ” (gesturing at my body)
“When are we going to see you in a dress?”
“Why don’t you try some lipstick at least?”
“You look sleepy” (I do not wear makeup, my eyes look like anyone’s normal, unlined eyes)
” Have you ever had a boyfriend?” (said in patronising tone)
“Maybe guys don’t look at you because of your small breasts” (my own sister, flesh and blood)
“Why don’t you get a push up bra?”
“Do you think anyone will want to marry her?” (obnoxious co worker.When I asked her what she meant she said that I looked too “careless”. When I asked if she meant that I looked like I do not cook or clean, she responded with ” No not that…other things.”)
” Come lets go buy you some good clothes” ( gracious offers by random people who think I need to be “taught” how to dress)
” Grow up sometime, be a woman!”
All these comments are generally thrown at me out of the blue – when I’m talking about something else entirely, when I casually mention that I need a new pair of jeans or sometimes just after I’ve complemented someone on their appearance.
They are not presented as suggestions – if i say something like “I like how I look/ I dont want to wear other clothes” , people act like I’m being unreasonable.
Ironically, I’m always the first person to compliment someone on their new clothes or hair, or reassure them when they are needlessly fretting about their weight. Corny as it sounds, I never think people LOOK ugly.. I only see ugliness in behaviour, actions etc.
I understand having to dress a certain way for the workplace – I think it is an unavoidable evil. However I simply refuse to change the way I look in casual settings.
I am perfectly alright with being “unattractive” to a majority of boys – love is not some job interview where you try tailor yourself to someone’s needs. If this means that I am single forever, then so be it – the thought does not bring me the slightest bit of sadness.
However, what is suffering now are all my female friendships. Talking about clothes and appearances seems to be requisite in these, barring some special, rare few.
I generally respond to such comments with a snarky comeback or tell them to mind their own business, but of late I am getting tired. This has been going on since I was 16. In all these years, I have met a grand total of 2 girls (my best friends) who have never asked me to change my appearance.
I love going out and meeting people, but now I dread talking to anyone because eventually the question of my appearance always comes up. Having to be defensive all the time drains the life out of me. When I’m introduced to a new girl anywhere, I automatically shrink away and stop talking. Being unfriendly seems to be the only way to avoid these comments.
How would you suggest I deal with such situations and the associated emotions?
Also does anyone have similar experiences? Does it get better when you get older?