CW// gender dysphoria mentioned, dieting very briefly mentioned
I started writing this post last November and for some reason writing about my gender issues is always a challenge because 1) I don’t actually have a gender and 2) most of my issues are external things that I have no control over.
I’ve never been super into fashion or fashion trends and as I’ve become more and more aware of how environmentally harmful the fashion industry is, I’ve been convinced to learn how to make my own clothes from scratch. I by no means expect to learn this skill overnight and I literally have 0.0001 percent of time to work on it weekly because of my work schedule and basic human needs like doing laundry and making food for the week. I understand that it’ll probably be several years before I become confident in my (nonexistent) skills to make even a mock-up at this point and patterning is making my head spin, but basically I want to be a well adjusted adult by the time I’m 60 who gives no fucks and just does what I want. I consider myself to be pretty boring and unskilled at the moment, but if I start now I can hopefully be one of those *cool old people* that my hypothetical future nieces and nephews can look up to like an extra grandparent-like person. As I said, I started writing this post back in November and my skill has in no way improved because sewing is very time consuming when you are starting from literal scratch and can’t sew your way out of a paper bag.
I’ve also hit a bit of a snag (pun intended). The first thing I did was hit the books about making clothes and watch a bunch of vintage enthusiasts YouTube channels (because they usually hand sew all their stuff, make it built to last, and do it on a budget). I was quick to discover there’s basically two types of clothes making instruction manuals; men’s and women’s…fuck.
I already have a hard time finding clothes because I’m plus-size so finding clothes that fit is an Odyssey in itself. Finding clothes that don’t trigger my gender dysphoria and fit is pretty much impossible, so I usually settle for clothes that don’t fit and don’t trigger my gender dysphoria. Gender neutral fashion and nonbinary fashion lines are very niche, usually very expensive, and as I mentioned above I’m trying not to buy into fast fashion. Also, again, plus size. I’m not ashamed of my weight because my family is super Irish on my mom’s side and we are “famine ready” as we like to put it. I have some strong opinions about the keito diet fad and I hear horror stories constantly on social media of nutrition “experts” who are literally starving their patients to get them to a “healthy” weight. My ancestors did not survive one free-market driven mass starvation for their decedents to willfully subject themselves to another. But I digress.
You know what I miss about tumblr? The “genderfuck” hashtag. For anyone living under a bigger rock than I am, tumblr was a wildwest hellscape, but it’s lack of oversight allowed for fandoms and queer spaces to just blossom in a way that wish could be replicated on other social media, but it was eventually bought by a larger corporation and in order to get that juicy advertising money it banned all “adult content” which effectively forced out the LGBTQIA+, kink groups, and fandoms. Like, wtf, kind of logic is that? You know who has money? Adults with jobs who are starving for ways to freely express themselves. What’s a 13 y/o going to do with a car insurance commercial? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were clear boundaries that marked adult internet spaces with effective policy guidelines and policy enforcement strategies so that LGBTQIA folks could freely express themselves and vent/discuss issues? Clearly I’m feeling super ranty today and keep in mind this post was cooking long before my shallow dive into Twitter discourse.
But anywho, to get back on topic the tumblr “genderfuck” hashtag let me see actual real humans in regular bodies with cellphone cameras without help from a whole makeup team, pushing the boundaries of gender expression. That hastag really helped me get over some of my personal hiccups and for some reason the Instagram experience just isn’t the same.
I’m on the fem side of the sliding scale of gender expression and I was always (and I mean always like all the way back to first grade when even though pink was technically my favorite color I couldn’t actually tell people that because it was “too girly” and I didn’t want to be seen that way nor could I say “blue” because blue was for boys and I didn’t want to be seen as a tomboy either so my first grade self split the difference and said “purple”), I’ve always felt self conscious about appearing too “girly”, but my rare bouts of gender euphoria involve “girly” things that I mentally assign as “queer” rather than “woman”, like *glitter*. I LOVE glitter, not because I think it’s “girly” but because I associate it with Pride and the LGBTQIA+. Seeing folks in under the genderfuck hashtag was euphoric to me because it showed me people could be pretty, people could be plus-sized, people could be fem without being a “woman”. That’s the kind of nonbinary fashion I want and I can’t find it anymore because advertisers dropped a “think of the children” bomb on tumblr.
So, back to my less than brilliant solution of making my own clothes. The pros are, omg things that FIT and fit my gender expression the cons are, OMG this is hard! Right now I probably could’t sew a straight running stitch if my life depended on it and watching people YouTube explain pattering gives me anime-style swirly eyes. It’s kind of like when I decided to go back to school for math and then failed calc 1 twice and then the college got rid of my degree plan so I had to reassess ALL of my life choices again. The biggest issue is time. It takes time and hours and hours of practice to learn a new skill. Is it worth the 30 hours over six months it takes to finish a project or would I rather just save a week’s paycheck to commission an etsy artist? It depends. If it’s not something I can get second hand and something specific that I want need to last me, I’d probably go ahead and commission someone.
The best way to be ecofriendly about fashion is to take care of the clothes you already have and make them last and being super picky about clothes you buy new. A $5 shirt that dissolves after two washes isn’t a good buy. A $5 shirt that lasts a good while, then becomes a pajama top, then becomes paint clothes, and then becomes dust rags is a really good buy. I’m definitely not trying to guilt trip anyone because clothes are one of those life’s essentials that most people can’t afford to be picky about and a few splurges here or there isn’t actually going to make the overall problem worse because like most things we like to blame the consumer for problems created and maintained by corporations.
Learning to make my own clothes wouldn’t be such a daunting task if I had someone to teach me or local classes I could take. Amazon has a series “It’s Sew Easy” and oh, no it is not. I didn’t even know a serger was a thing and there is no room in my living situation to put one along with a sewing machine. Also, I have some nosy, judgmental roommates so all sewing projects are on hold for the moment until I can come up with a new game plan.
There’s no way to gracefully end this post because I really just wanted to get it out of my drafts so I can move on to the next topic- “That awkward moment when your roommate walks in on you lacing up a corset”