Self-Expression After Coming Out

A few months ago BuzzFeed released a video on how people’s style changed after coming out, and they had a group of people dress like their closeted selves for a day. Honestly I didn’t think other people had thought this through as much as I had.

Before I came out, and before I accepted my sexuality I was overtly feminine. I worse lots of skirts, dresses, jewelry, heavy makeup (ugh someone should had told me I looked terrible), and I had long hair. I never had a girly style before but I felt more pressure as I got older to trade in the messy bun and basketball shorts, for long curled hair and a mini-skirt. A lot of it was sub-conscious and I didn’t really realize what I was doing until years later.

I would see things I wanted to wear, but thought “no that’s too masculine.” In reality it wasn’t masculine at all, it just wasn’t nauseatingly feminine like I had made myself used to. After coming out something just switched. I wore whatever I wanted, which was usually still leaning towards feminine, but I felt more comfortable. I normally wear jeans, a shirt, and vans or clarks. So does sexuality affect style?

I would say yes and no. In some instances once people are comfortable with themselves and come out, then they feel they can dress how they’ve always wanted to. Like any culture or community there is a specific style that a lot of people follow. Some stereotypes are here for a reason, I mean a lot of lesbians do wear flannel, like a lot. I don’t think it’s bad thing though, unless you feel like you have to change the way you dress in order to be taken seriously or fit in.

My self-expression changed when I became comfortable with myself, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable the second you stop feeling even a tiny percentage of that awkwardness, you never want to go back.

Did your style or general self-expression change after coming out?

What changed?

 

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16 thoughts on “Self-Expression After Coming Out

  1. I love Kasey’s Gender Perspectives series so much. Every blog post linked is always so fascinating/thought-provoking.
    I am a femme, cis woman but I’m also asexual and sex-averse. It took me until age 22 to really start questioning if I might be ace, in part because I didn’t really have the language or the concept, and it took until I was 23 to accept the identity. I didn’t meet other asexuals in person until I was 24, and more understanding of myself and growing to be more comfortable in my own skin has been happening since – I’m 27 now.

    You talk about “When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable” and honestly yeah I spent so many years uncomfortable with the push and pull and being torn between wanting to be pretty and feminine, and non-ugly, yet also wanting to avoid sexualizing myself. I wrote this post as I realized some of these things about myself almost two years ago: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/an-exploration-of-not-wanting-to-be-sexy-and-of-never-feeling-sexy/
    And I also remember how much comments like this have stuck with me all this time since first reading them: https://thenoteswhichdonotfit.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/dont-look-at-me-theres-nothing-to-see-im-playing-femme/#comment-1293 (or really that while blog post and all the comments)…

    I would say I always dressed how I wanted and had a similar style, but now I have context for exactly why I would prefer to avoid showing off my cleavage and I have finally started purchasing new shirts a and dresses with that in mind, and it feels so empowering to be able to feel pretty without those extra feelings of discomfort added on, to feel fully how I want to feel. I take more effort to look good, to make sure i shower right before leaving the house, to even maybe put temporary hair chalk color in my hair as a thing I’ve always wanted to try, baby steps of self expression and confidence, now that I’m more comfortable and confident in all my friendships because I understand who I am better and I know where and how I’m different from certain friends.

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    1. I’m glad you were able to figure all of those things out for yourself. I hadn’t thought about a self-expression change in the form of clothing from the perspective of an asexual, so thank you for giving me something to think about! I will definitely check out those posts!

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  2. This is interesting! So like when I was younger, I had a period (up to maybe third grade?) where I wanted to grow my hair long (so I could pull it back and braid it and play around with it like my friends!), wished I could experiment with makeup, and liked pink. Then I kind of just switched to liking turquoise and blue more and kind of stopped caring until seventh grade, after my back brace came off during the day (so I could feel how clothes fit on me) and we had to wear polo shirts at school. Then, I noticed how my clothes were baggy and I wanted to fit in with the more form-fitting stuff. At the same time, I wanted to appear “authentic” (especially with my hair, which is naturally curly to an extent) and only wore makeup for my red cheeks. This continued throughout high school…most of the uncomfortableness I felt was from my hair not being “good” enough to wear down sometimes, but that’s more to do with my anxiety/OCD issues. (I just got it cut shorter because of the compulsions taking up so much time and I love it now.)

    So I think I’ve always been drawn to femininity…but only to an extent. I’ve always been very anti- what’s popular or expected of me, and ESPECIALLY when I was little, so as a result I haven’t seen a lot of Disney movies and hated Barbie. (Some things were gendered, some not.) Now that I’ve been able to explore more styles, and especially now I don’t have to fixate as much on my hair, I’ve been thinking about it more. I really like leggings with long shirts or dresses, and I do like dresses, and I’m experimenting more with makeup. But I also branched out into flannel (it’s so convenient with my go-to t-shirts!), and sometimes I find it more comfortable to not worry about dresses and just wear nice pants. I also had to wear pants, a dress shirt (I bought both women’s fit though), and a tie for choir my senior year of high school and I really liked that, too. I like the professional women’s cut pants and collared shirts, basically–and I can kind of imagine alternating between that and more feminine dresses or skirts (and maybe fun bookish shirts?) when I’m a teacher.

    Lol this is long but I kept thinking about it. Like, I’m not trying to say all bisexuals might alternate between styles, but that kind of suits me? (I have a friend who’s bi and kind of does this, too.)

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    1. That’s fascinating! I’ve definitely always been drawn to counter culture, so maybe that’s where some of it stems from. There are still times when I get really dressed up for something and look really girly, but it feels like a facade. I prefer to stay moderately feminine most of the time, but on occasion a dress here or there can be nice. I think it’s interesting that you alternate between styles and have a bi friend who does the same thing. Does your style change depending on who you’re around (straight people vs. queer people) or is it more based on how you’re feeling?

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      1. I think it could depend on who I’m around, or how I’m expected to act in a setting, depending if it’s just casual or professional. I haven’t had too much practice alternating between spaces so I’m not sure yet. It’ll be interesting!

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    1. That’s funny! I definitely started to wear a chambray shirt with the sleeves rolled up once and asked my sister if I looked “too butch” before coming out. She laughed pretty hard, and honestly if I could go back I would laugh at me too.

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  3. I wouldn’t say my style changed, but I think I feel more inclined to wear things more stereotypical for queer women on occasion, like flannel like you said, or rainbow jewelry, mostly with the hope that other lesbian/bi/pan women will know I’m queer, too! I also love lgbt culture and fashion, which is something I never knew much about before I started coming out. I think more changed for me on the inside, like being more confident and doing what makes me happiest 🙂

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    1. Aw that’s awesome! Gaining confidence is one of the best things about coming out. I also wear things in hopes other people think I’m queer, since it typically isn’t obvious to other people. I have noticed that since doing that, that other queer people can tell. I haven’t made it so obvious that straight people catch on, but they can be pretty clueless haha.

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      1. Straight people are usually oblivious lmao. Like most people I know didn’t get that Demi Lovato’s “Cool For The Summer” was about a girl. But yeah, glad you feel more like you can be yourself and dress how u want 🙂

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  4. My style didn’t necessarily change once I came out, but it’s definitely been slowly changing since I started dating my girlfriend. Now that I actually have queer friends nearby to hang out with, I find myself even more drawn to some of the lesbian stereotypes – namely flannel and beanies. My girlfriend helps me take chances on the things I don’t think I can “pull off”, and I’m slowly going from “default feminine” to “grungy lesbian”. 🙂

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    1. “Default feminine to grungy lesbian” haha I like that. It definitely describes my style change as well. I remember buying my first flannel and thinking, “I can’t pull this off, I’m going to look sloppy and stupid.” It kinda helps now that straight hipster girls have infiltrated lesbian style, but a whole new set of problems come along with that, haha.

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      1. Right?? My girlfriend had to buy me a flannel shirt in order to get me to even try it. I don’t even have a personal style, really. It’s more like “Can I wear this to work? No? Then what use is it to me?” which is kinda really lame. XD

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