Gentileschi, St CeciliaWomen often comment on my slim, feminine, beautiful, pianist’s hands- these adjectives come up again and again. U showed me her wide hands and wide nails: she would never wear nail varnish, it would bring attention to the nails, which were, shock, horror, wider than they were long. The first time she did this I acknowledged it, but said nothing in particular, and then seeing her after each time found myself assuring her how pretty her hands were. It only took me two years to forget this lesson: J shows me her broad thumbnail- “Look how broad it is!”- and I acknowledge, but do not reassure. I should, really.

She wanted to talk something through, she wanted to do something you might think was mean. Not jumping to that conclusion, I hear her reasons and assent- she has a perfect right to do that. And she asked me whether I had had the Operation. Not as bluntly as that, of course, I cannot remember how she sidled towards the question. I said because she was so good a friend I had no objection to telling her “I am anatomically correct”. This is not quite true, but close enough.

We went out for the day, which was lovely, and ate in a tea-room- we agreed, so much nicer than Costa! I found myself noticing more as I spent time there, the flying ducks on the walls, the old cameras on shelves, the framed “classic” advertisements for Ovaltine and the 1950s lampshades. We then went to the supermarket where she picked up some bits, and bumped into friends: she introduced me, and they told their news.

Then she felt moved to advise me. Each of these she repeats for emphasis: she would no more go out without earrings than without shoes; I must wear make-up, it would soften my features; I walk with long strides which some might think mannish, I should take shorter steps. Though when I told her Carol had said my walk was Neanderthal (in 1999) she thought that was going too far.

I wonder when one might speak so personally to someone, and can think of two circumstances: when I am shocked by their behaviour, it really is beyond the pale, or when I am embarrassed to be with them and simply must say something. It could be transphobia- “She looks like a tranny! People will see I am out with a tranny!” That she is my friend shows it is not just that simple, and difficulty with confrontation might affect her manner.

I have not grown up with fashion, or such conversations, and appear unfeminine, and get uncomfortable;

and I don’t want to think of that as making a mistake, because that implies I am putting on an act. I am myself.

and I want the help with it that I want.

Oh! The conflicting feelings! I just don’t know!

8 thoughts on “Reassurance

  1. I would find it annoying if someone wittered on like that at me. I don’t wear make-up, I do wear earrings, but invariably the same ones and it’s so the holes don’t close up. As for gait, people walk differently. I might complain if someone is dawdling or conversely if they are rushing. I probably (normally) have a long stride. So what? I’m tall with long legs and wear flat shoes. It’s self-evident my stride will be longer than someone 5ft wearing 3–6 inch heels. But, I don’t know how you feel apart from what I read. You wish to appear and be super feminine. I no longer do, but I can see why you want given a relatively recent transitioning rather than a lifetime of being a woman.

    Anyway, this theme works better and looks nice and clean. The menu goes across the top of the featured pic which looks a bit odd though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is not quite that. It is not that I wish to appear ultra-feminine, but that I feel I am ultra-feminine- and that has always seemed too vulnerable for my comfort. So I shut out the world and will not appear in that way, in public. It seems the way into freedom to allow myself to be this vulnerable and it still feels threatening.

      You may have had to prove something, as a journalist in a “man’s world”. I was chatting today to an engineer who certainly did: the only female engineer on the site, she always wore full make-up and a skirt, and had to be more competent than the men. Off site she would wear trousers and flats. Once a man was rude to her and she said “Speak to me like that again and I will deck you”.

      I feel I have to prove something. No, I am not just a man in a dress, some ridiculous fetishist. And yet appearing as feminine as I feel I really am feels vulnerable. I will be happier like that, but sometimes I just can’t.

      I am glad the theme works. It seems to slice off the top of featured images, while the other sliced off the bottom. I will play with cropping them appropriately. I like a side-bar, but no-one clicks them, it seems, so why bother? They do click the top menu.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They think the side bar is all adverts so they blow it off. Comes from years of indoctrination on the internet.
    Anyway, my dad always told me that when in doubt, do “the next best thing.” And the next best thing is inevitably, nothing. I think to address the conflicting feelings that you are having, that nothing is a good answer for now.


    • If you think your sidebar is ignored, try a Footer!

      I wrote this after being insulted, really, by advice on feminine deportment, wondering whether I would go today to visit my friend, who thought it would be wonderful for me to meet her friend who would advise me on- feminine deportment. Or actually the best colours and shapes for my skin tone and figure. Actually, it was lovely.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It can be lovely to receive advice from people on complementary colours, on ideas…..but generally I steer well clear of people who ‘just want to check’ and ask questions like, ‘so….(simper, smile) what’s wrong with you, then?’ which, though I understand, is so far behind where I want to be, that I now reply, ‘I’m feeling fine, actually’ just to annoy them deliberately.

    Invariably people who are rude and insensitive and just plain nosy, and who dress all that up with a smile, will then go on to make the next mistake, which is to give unsoughtfor advice. If I am at a riding lesson, and the instructor tells me what to do, I am happy to agree. Partly because she has made the effort and gives her time freely, and I have chosen to be there too. But more importantly, because from my knowledge of her expertise, I trust her. I know, from the way it makes me feel, that she is right, and that she is helping me, and that she has my best interests totally at the front of her mind.

    So, does a friend who asks rude questions have your interests at heart, or is she simply expecting you to soothe her embarassment?

    I have never understood why people do this – why can we not just enjoy company as we find it, and be happy together. Perhaps I come from another planet or something.

    Fran xxxx 😀


  4. Oy, unsolicited advice. It occurs to me that one factor, beyond the obvious transphobia (even if she wasn’t concerned about being out with you, the scrutiny of your body is transphobic, IMO), is that it’s simply normal for people to tell women how they ought to look, act, etc. Remarking on a man’s body or fashion to his face is rare. But it’s quite common for people to do that to women, from “Won’t you smile?” to “You’re going out in a skirt that short?” to “Are you really gonna eat that?” So this experience may also indicate how very thoroughly a woman you are, for better or worse!

    Liked by 1 person

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