I have never been a girly girl.
Even as a child, I was the bratty one that climbed trees, hung out with boys and wouldn’t think twice about sticking my nose where it didn’t belong. My mum gave up braiding my hair in kindie and just cut it boy-short, since I always came back with my ponytail undone anyway.
Although she’d put me in cutesy little dresses, I’d often (accidentally!) tear holes in them, or else sit with my legs so wide open (yeah, I didn’t know what modesty was .___. ) that she’d be embarrassed to bring me anywhere.
My toys were mostly those that cater to both genders – Lego, Play doh, Monopoly, Scrabble. The one and only time they got me a Barbie, I sheared half of her hair off and drew over her face and legs with blue ball-point so she would seem like an ‘Amazon warrior’ (I saw that on TV somewhere and thought it was really cool, so). Mi shouted at me for half an hour, then told me I’d never get another doll in my life again.
When I finally went to high school and hit puberty, I started noticing guys more. Friends told me that boys didn’t like girls like me – with my super short hair, rolled up sleeves and my habit of pulling up my baju kurung’s kain as I walked because it was so bloody long I would stumble otherwise. Back in the early 2000s, we didn’t have the term ‘friendzone’ yet, but I guess that would have been my fate – unless I did some drastic action.
So I let my hair grow really long, started to take an ‘interest’ in makeup, and such.
But despite how I changed my appearance and attempted to like girly stuff… I was still, well, unladylike. I swore like a sailor and would avoid wearing skirts because it was just so much trouble to mind the way I walked, or sat, or did things.
I ended up graduating high school with my hair super short again.
Then came college. I had my first long-term relationship with a guy.. who, despite my tomboyishness, saw something in me that he liked.
Although he never said it, 17-year-old me assumed that he’d be ashamed to take me out to meet his friends, who all had these demure, sweet, presentable other-halfs. And then there was me with my beanies and sneakers and baggy shirts/jeans.
So, I grew my hair long again. I tried wearing heels and wearing make-up. Most days I forgot, but I tried really hard. I felt happy when people praised me on how ‘different’ I looked and how much I’ve ‘grown up’.
Five years later, we parted ways. It was a meaningful relationship, and even though it didn’t work out, I was glad for it because it taught me a lot about myself. He taught me that I didn’t have to change to please others, and that those people who really loved me, would love me for being.. well, me. Short hair, makeup-less face, uncouth ways and all.
These days, I occasionally put on makeup and wear heels to work, because the job requires me to. But most times, I forget I have eyeliner on and end up smearing it and looking like a hot mess, or trip and knock something over while I’m wearing my heels, etc. That will probably be how I always am.
And I find I don’t mind as much.
PS: This was a very lengthy post on why I like wearing boots instead of heels. Now stop asking why I never wear heels, people!