I am a female. I promise! I have all the necessary biology that any medical professional would have to agree I am a girl. However, on the outside? Not so much.
My earliest memories are when I was just a kid, playing video games with my brother, sister and dad; old school mario, mario kart, sonic, zelda, streets of rage, golden axe, and my favourite of all time: Wani Wani World. Google/YouTube it, it’s amazing! I love my old consoles and loved playing games just as much. I grew up and started playing Dreamcast and Playstation 2, which probably are my favourite consoles of all time. On Dreamcast, I used to play WWF Royal Rumble with my brother, when I discovered WWF on tv around late 1999, and then I discovered rock music. I remember sitting down while my brother eagerly awaited the opening signature, unmistakable with it’s flashing images of superstars. I remember The Undertaker making his entrance and thinking he was the coolest person ever! As time went on, Jeff Hardy grew into one of my biggest crushes, Edge and Christian were so funny, I’ve never seen someone quite like SCSA and The Rock sent electrical shivers down my spine. Kurt Angle, Eddie, Beniot, Jericho, HHH — all of my childhood heroes engage in a pro-sport I’ve never quite seen before. I was mesmerised and hooked. I stayed up from 1-4am watching PPVs and inevitably fell asleep by about 2.30am, while my brother had to carry me back up to my own bed to sleep. I’d have taped it too, so would rewind the tape to see who won the main event (I couldn’t wait!) before I went to school, and then watch the rest after I had run home from school. My brother, cousin and I would play-wrestle in my living room, and I would play-wrestle in the playground with the boys (of course, I was the only Diva there!). Sorry WWE, we ignored your “don’t try this anywhere” warning. I never got seriously hurt, even when my uncle tombstoned me, but I can’t say the same for others. If Jake is reading this, I’m sorry for kneeing you… *There*…. I really am!
I think my mum would have preferred if I wasn’t so into all these “boys” stuff, and I think with my recent obsession with comic books hasn’t settled her any less. I have never been a “girly” girl, and I don’t see a near future where I would start. I have always been a tomboy, and spending 2 hours on my hair does not sound appealing or necessary to me. I spend most of my life in my Timberlands and baggy, loose jeans. I credit this to Lita. She was my favourite diva growing up and I have modelled my style after hers; trainers, baggy trousers, tiny cropped top showing her midriff, in all dark colours. This was, and still is, very much my style. I appreciate this was almost ten years ago, where she was part of Team Extreme, and her style has evolved since then (circa. Edge), but I suppose it’s because no-one has ever “dressed me”. My mum stopped when I was old enough to realise I did not have to have cartoon characters on my clothes (although I was quite fond of my Tweety Bird jumper when I was 9).
However, I have come to realise that perhaps I lack the femininity that I should be flaunting like the rest of my generation. “Being more feminine” was one of my new year resolutions, along with “smiling more”. This came about more because it cannot find clothes I like anymore, more than the need to stick myself into high heels and a vat of foundation. And so, this past Thursday, I left Brighton to come home for the weekend to London, and went straight to Westfield Stratford on the underground tube. Westfield is a huge ass shopping centre built for the Olympics essentially and is next to the grounds in East London. There is one across London in White City, which is in my opinion a lot better. However, after lengthy travelling on trains, I felt like going somewhere closer to home (Stratford, very close to where I live). So, dressed comfortably, with my long scarf, Abecrombie & Fitch hoody, and my backpack, I descended with the masses upon the shopping centre. I justified this by reasoning I need to find a birthday present for my friend and housemate, Rachael (we call her Caz), which I actually needed, but failed to find anything anyway.
During my time there I realised something. I fucking hate shopping and I fucking hate fashion these days. Let’s start with the shopping. It presents an awkward situation filled with anxiety and disappointment for me. It begins when you first enter a shop, and the judgemental shop assistant is waiting by the door like a bouncer into a club, checking that no-one gets in wearing trainers. On this day, thankfully, I was wearing my Timberlands. Dark blue. While the shop assistant greets you with a gleeful smile and a chirpy “hi!”, she may as well look me up and down, raise one eyebrow and say “really? You’re going to come in here? Dressed like that? You have no style. It’s disgraceful. Just leave now, or come in and wonder around aimlessly while I stare at you with evil eyes while you finger all the clothes you hate because you JUST don’t understand them, until I make you too uncomfortable and you leave feeling like crap.” I should just take her subliminal advice and avoid shops at all costs, but through my own stupidity, I waltz in pretending I belong in the shiny shop with techno music in the background and try to look as if I have purpose. Which, of course, I don’t. I don’t know what the fuck I am doing here, since it’s true- I hate all of these clothes and probably the people that would wear them. Which brings me onto my second annoyance: fashion itself.
I don’t understand leggings, and yet we are in a time where they are worn all the time, everywhere by everyone. My sister is such a fan, and even my mum has gotten into the trend. Leggings to me, are glorified tights, and are NOT trousers, and so should not be treated as such. If you cannot wear leggings in the right way, then you will get cholera for being a terrible person. Society hates you. While leggings themselves do not warrant such rage, its the way they’re used which does. Hey, girl there, if you do not wear you leggings with a skirt, or some shorts, or a dress or some sort of long top, then you are exposing the intimate shape of your vagina and arse to the world, and frankly, the world doesn’t want to see it. So cover the hell up. You are not a cow, so coverup your udders. This is polite society, after all. I would have more respect for you if you wandered around in your underwear, instead of wiggling your shame in front of me in the morning. A step up from leggings are the sudden fascination with skinny jeans. A fascination I, for one, will not undertake. Let’s start with skinny jeans on guys. It’s gross. Yes, I appreciate that you are comfortable with your sexuality, and that your giant man bag and oversized cardigan are statements of your individuality (even though you bought then from a high street shop that, oh, everyone else shops in too), and while the feat of you squeezing your lower body into these tight trousers is impressive, it makes me quite depressed to realise that you, (Multiple) Boy in My Lecture, has skinner legs than I do. I concede that if I wanted to, I could also stuff my body into multicoloured denim, as if I am trying to stuff sausage meat into it’s thin casing, but since I enjoy ample and comfortable blood flow and the luxuries of movement, I will stick with slouchy jeans that don’t really fit me properly. Although they are magic. They make my behind disappear in an instant!
Other fashion things that annoy me? Uggs. They make your feet look about 5x bigger than they are, and even though being Asian and tiny means I have tiny feet, it doesn’t freak me out any less. It’s probably why I don’t like skinny jeans. Seeing your whole foot and shoe as you look down unnerves me. Perhaps it’s just me.
As I failed in finding my present, I decided to try and look for presents for me, by the way of clothes to make me more girly and maybe finally shed the tomboy look I’ve held on to for so long, and move along with the times like my peers. Besides, there are many clothes that aren’t leggings or skinny jeans, right? Yes, there are. But that doesn’t mean they’re nice.
Looking around near most every shop I used to frequent, and I felt like a lost child, walking around without delving head first into all the rails as I could tell I would not find anything I’d like. While clothes on mannequins loons inviting, on me they would look disgusting.
Pick up a top. It’s huge, but designed that way. Put it back.
Pick up a top. It’s essentially a bra that society deems it ok to wear out in the street. Put it back.
Pick up a top. It has shapes cut out of it, with big jewels glued onto it. Put it back.
The world has gone mad.
Even shops I have always been to such as Republic, where tomboyish, skater/surfer types could go and find stuff that is still stylish, I have witnessed changed with the times and have become that which I hoped I wouldn’t. A shop just like the rest. Suffice to say, I hardly shop there anymore. “Alternative” shops are just mainstream garbage but made even more ridiculous that you feel like an edgy individual, but you don’t. You just stand out. For all the wrong reasons. Maybe that’s my problem- I don’t want to stand out. I just want to buy some fucking clothes.
Store after store, I leave empty handed, deflated and perplexed as to why this is such a chore instead of the enjoyable experience it is supposed to be. The enjoyable bit is having new things to play with, but traipsing around for hours looking for it sucks. I come across Hollister and go in, thinking that because I am wearing my A&F hoody (which I always wear anyway) that maybe I will be accepted. Wrong. As I am being greeted again superficially by a tall blonde girl wearing tight denim shorts, flip-flops and a red checked shirt, tied taut across her body at the front, revealing a lean and smooth stomach underneath, I wanted to run out again crying, but that is impossible as Hollister is so dark it requires small acts of God for you to find your way out again. So, at the entrance of the cave, I’ve no choice but to venture further. Hollister is built inside and out to resemble some sort of Californian beach hut/shack, that smells like privilege and seems to be lit by only three candles in each establishment. There are many variations of only one design of garments, stacked and folded so neatly you daren’t unfold them for fear of Miss Beach at the front frowning those perfectly plucked eyebrows at you, along with her mini clones that mill around in sorority-esque groups. Hollister is also laid out in a way that there are many off-route shelves to peruse behind mannequins and racks, as if to say “well done you, you have found the secret corner of this part of Hollister that no-one else is smart enough to find, you enjoy what treasures we have stashed away that none of THESE other people would ever think of finding. Our little secret shhhh”. But of course, you are not Alice who has found the White Rabbit and all you have stumbled upon are generic t-shirts of different colours. One thing that annoys me the most, is that clothes, even in Hollister that should cater for size -0 (it is American, after all), don’t fit me. XS usually is still too big to fit me normally, let alone as tight as I would prefer, to show the world that yes I am a girl, and yes I have a girly figure! I am grateful my mum is a seamstress and she can alter clothes for me. If not, I would have to shop in kids sections, which, I tend to do from time to time.
Reaching the bright lights of daylight outside through a small miracle and using the torch on my iPhone, I made it out of Hollister unscathed and empty-handed. I do, however, remember the last time I bought something from there. It was a plain White tank top that was just small enough, and I remember the cheery but not-interested-in-you shopgirl behind the till telling me to “like” them on Facebook if I hadn’t done so already. I resented this as no-one just gets to tell me what to like, but more for the fact that she didn’t make eye contact with me for the whole transaction. Making small talk with a cashier is something I don’t mind, as long as they are genuine to you and the conversation, instead of a broody youngster trying to relate to me on a Internet level instead of a personal level. “I won’t shake your hand, but I’ll poke you on Facebook”, it seems to be. Fuck them, I reckon, for I will not wish them any parting sentiment because I hope the rest of their day sucks.
Walking around the shopping centre, I decided to play a game: Count How Many People Are Wearing Loose Trousers. I played for about an hour and counted 3: one wearing smart work trousers but with impossibly high heels (which I wouldn’t ever be able to walk in), one wearing grey tracksuits bottoms (a fashion well I will never dip my pen into), and one wearing jeans with a slight bootcut, but these belonged to a middle aged woman who I discounted because I she was not in my age group. Everyone else were in leggings, tights, skinny jeans or just plain legs stuffed into a skirt or shorts, despite the bitter cold that awaited them outside. As they all walked around, arm in arm, in their high heels, Ugg boots, ballerina pumps, trendy sneakers or high tops, and stylish boots, I realised that I never went shopping as a social activity. I’ve always done something more fun, such as going to the cinema, eating more food than humanly possible but valiantly trying to finish it, even going bowling. As I watch twosomes and groups of girls hold up clothes against one another, flit in and out of changing rooms and twirling in mirrors, I realise this is all a foreign concept to me. When my sister drags me shopping with her, it is usually me following her around not looking at anything for myself, and holding all of her choices and options, as well as her large and heavy handbag, and equally large and heavy coat, so she has two hands free to flick through the rails. Then providing my student ID at the till to get her the discount. It’s all quite tedious, and tiresome.
As I superficially valued each girl and woman I passed on their dress sense, I realised that none of them dressed like me. Am I the minority in all this? Am I the one who is wrong, and they are the ones who judge me and wonder why I am dressed so peculiarly? Are girls who used to think like me suddenly trading their comfy shoes for peeptoe wedge heels? Swapping t-shirts for short boob-tube dresses that shields no dignity whatsoever? Natural features being elongated with plastic substitutes for your hair, eyebrows and nails? I heard from someone once that a person they knew wanted to ruin their eyesight so they can wear glasses, because it’s trendy. Really? Glasses have been a hinderance for me, and it hasn’t made me trendy in the slightest for the 13 years I’ve had to wear them. This goes beyond wanting new clothes to wear for a tired wardrobe. Girly clothes will not make me feel or be more girly. I will still be that geek who plays mario and reads comics, but just more uncomfortable in biding clothes in garish colours. Clothes aren’t my identity and if I am judged on them, then all the pity for it. I have moaned about all of the fashion I detest and yet my nearest and dearest all wear them. My sister has 6 pairs of Ugg boots alone. I care for the people wearing them. I imagine someone can get a better sense of my personality and character by watching the facial expressions I can’t help but pull on the train while I’m reading a book (comic or otherwise), rather than watching me put on layer upon layer of foundation and mascara in a tiny mirror, that I then put into my haute couture Gucci handbag. I appreciate nice things, expensive or otherwise, but that world doesn’t rule mine.
After walking around all 3 floors, I eventually left with nothing except a pack of silicone cupcake cases (pastel coloured), with my Batman Hush tucked under my arm to read on the tube back. I am a female. I promise! I’m just rough around the edges, I guess, and a female were it counts.