Growing up, I was always ashamed of being a girl. I was ashamed to shave my legs and pluck my eyebrows and talk about cute boys. I never wanted to wear sparkly clothes or say like or giggle. There was no Limited Too in my life.
I was ashamed of being a girl because, in the same way that singing in the shower was uncool and mayonnaise was uncool, being a girl was uncool. My two older brothers and the kids on the bus and my friends at camp sneered at the color pink and boy bands.
In order to please the world, I was strictly unfeminine. I asked for the boys toy in my happy meal and never did my hair. My favorite color was green and I claimed allegiance with Sporty Spice and Avril Lavigne. I lived my life as a tomboy.
A lot of this has carried over into my adult life. I don’t wear heels and I’ve never worn a low-cut blouse. I still haven’t experienced a peel-off face mask. The color pink continues to make me uneasy and I have never owned foundation until today.
Today I walked up to the makeup counter at Boots to buy some nail polish. When the makeup counter assistant, Nena, asked me if I needed some help, I decided to say yes. I told her that I wanted to buy foundation.
One of my favorite things about being a consumer is that it allows me to become a pupil. I love asking shop owners and store clerks to teach me how to use plant food and how I should use vegan cheese and where these trousers should sit on my hips. I love to pretend that I have no idea what something is so that they explain everything to me from the beginning, carefully and with pride.
Nena explained to me that foundation was supposed to even out my complexion. She told me that not all foundations were sticky and that it is hygienic to apply foundation with a brush. She told me that she would take a picture of my skin and that we would find the perfect shade for me.
The next twenty-five minutes were meditative. Each shade that Nena tried was close, but not close enough. She went through tint after tint and finish after finish of light and perfectly cool foundations, which she would brush onto my face with a foundation brush. I was a canvas. I knew that Nena would eventually find the foundation for me, but in the meantime I relaxed as she gently caressed my face with different shades of tan.
These days, it’s normal to be an unfeminine female. Wearing sneakers instead of heels is expected and combing your hair is optional. Because of this, it seems like I’m not feminine because I choose not to be — it seems like I’ve always been a tomboy because it’s who I am. But this is not true. I’ve always been a tomboy because I am afraid of being feminine. I’ve always been a tomboy because I am afraid of being judged.
Being feminine takes guts. It takes standing up for feeling good about yourself and experimenting with your physical appearance. It takes making time for yourself. But above all, it takes being confident with your choices when half of the world ridicules your interests.
I’ve never had the guts to be feminine — to enjoy the relaxing discoveries that happen at the seat of a makeup counter. To enjoy the way a beautiful blouse accentuates my body. To enjoy the clicking sound that heels make when you walk across a smooth, tiled floor.
I’ve never had the guts to be feminine, but I’m ready now.