As I was about to have these photos taken,
the makeup artist told me not to look at myself.
She warned me,
that were I at all uncomfortable with my self image, I'd find it distressing to see myself in such a masculine state.
And I do.
And, as someone who's always doubted her own femininity, I find it unsettling to know that, at the flip of a proverbial switch (swish of a literal brush), I'm millimeters away from an identity with which I've so ambivalently identified.
My eyebrows, a lifelong point of contention between my mother and myself, have always been the key source of my self doubt. That, along with my muscular upper arms, my Italian nose, my ruddy knees, my veiny hobbit hands and my horse-like grin, have not exactly helped me to identify with my more feminine side.
The most difficult part of this all is that, inside, I've always felt extremely "girly".
I develop a new crush every 5 minutes, I'm incredibly moody, I love gowns made of lace, I could live off of frosting for days, I listen to Taylor Swift and think internal thoughts like 'she just gets me', and I know every standing-in-the-pouring-rain-monologue's word of Joe Wright's Mr. Darcy (also of Gollum's, but we won't go there for now).
This disconnect, I assumed, has stemmed from societal "ideals" stipulating which qualities of mine I must identify with as "feminine" and which as "masculine". It's a phenomenon that has led me to many a miniature identity crisis and one to which I attribute my persistent sense of unease. How can I at once be made up of qualities so incredibly different?
But in truth, I likely wouldn't describe these identifying traits as "different" were it not for standardized societal "genders" that led me to do so. In fact, they're all equal parts of me- whether or not they're quintessentially "masculine" or "feminine"-
and it's only through writing this blog that I've realized that.
Here, my inner identity (words) & my outer identity (images) always go hand-in-hand.
Whether my brows look particularly bushy that day, or my arms particularly untoned, I always have my same inner voice- my same point of view, and witnessing this day in and day out has ingrained in me the confidence that I am one person - rather than a mismatched amalgamation of random clashing social stereotypes.
These pictures still make me very uncomfortable.
And yes, I wish I didn't make such a good man boy.
But as I sit here reflecting on their strangeness via overly-wordy text, I realize that I'm the same person writing to you, despite the size of my side burns or the tenacity of my peach fuzz - and the more I come to terms with the fact that "me" will never be one stereotypical character from a cute romantic comedy - it's going to take a whole lot more than some charcoal-colored makeup to change that.
Photography by Sarah Rose Smiley, Hair & Makeup by Katrina King