Gender Socialisation

It’s really hard to shop for stuff when you’re me.

I go into a shop, and 90% of the clothes I would say wouldn’t fit me at all even though I can actually fit into them perfectly fine.

As I’m working on an essay now about gender socialisation, I wonder if what I think of as me is really me, or what i perceive of other people’s expectations and opinions of me.

I wouldn’t dare wear a dress to church because I feel weird doing so. But why do I feel weird? Is it really because I don’t like the dress or is it because I know people are going to comment on it?

“Oh my gosh Rachel are you wearing a dress?!”

“Whoa why suddenly wear so nice today?”

“Wah Rachel you actually look like a girl now!!”

I don’t like attention. This kind of attention at least. It’s not like they are bad comments, it’s just that these comments further emphasize how out of place me wearing something girly is.

Here’s something I would definitely not wear.

Lacey, frilly stuff with sparkly jewelry and high heels. Short skirts. Makeup. Those petite handbags that dangle delicately off people’s wrists. (Okay honestly I really hate those bags, just a personal preference I’m not saying they’re bad)

Just thinking of it makes me feel weird. Brrrrr.

I’m mainly like this because of the environment I was brought up in as a kid. Hehehe, let me put in some chim sociological terms here to sound cool. Agents of socialisation, I mean.

Like how my parents never really imposed informal negative sanctions on whether I should dress a certain way. I could pick a blue shirt because I like it and they never said anything like, “Aiyoh, choose pink lah!” Or say anything bad when I browse the boys section in kiddy palace for clothes. In fact, almost all of my clothes were boy clothes when I was young. I even looked like a boy. My hair was still wispy and fine when other girls could already tie theirs into pig tails and plaits. I looked pretty weird.

And my grandfather would always get me toys like remote control helicopters, dinosaurs, a book about dinosaurs, buses and cars. Science kits like a mini microscope to let me see cool closeups of insects and cells. Telescopes, spy kits. Stuff like that.

I didn’t really find barbie dolls particularly interesting to play with. I only liked playing with the little miniature stuff so the barbie dolls given to me on christmas by relatives who know nothing about me usually ended up abandoned in this box deep in my cupboard (I’m sorry but I really didn’t know what to do with them). The only thing about barbies I really liked were the movies. They were quite good.

Of course I did do the usual stuff when I was really really young like dress up as a princess and things like that. But that was before the age of when I could decide for myself and form my own self-identity.

I was at the peak of my boy-ish-ness in my late childhood. That was when people had already formed their expectations of me to stick to being boyish. The boy’s section was the first place I’d run to in a clothes store. Really, sometimes I never even bothered to look at the girl stuff because at that age, they were all pink and frilly. And I didn’t like short sleeves. (Which explains my horrible arm tan line since my shoulders never got to see the sunlight at all)

Looking back at all my photos, I realise how horrible I looked. I never bothered to do anything with my hair, was skinny and scrawny like a little boy, super tan from all that running outside. Scruffy clothes. HAHAHA I just realised these things could still somewhat apply to me at the present moment.

The last thing people would know me for would be pretty cute and girly. I’m the epitome of all things NOT pretty cute and girly.

I remember a long time ago, I was talking to Gin Fang, and she told me she asked Sean whether he liked me (This was when we were primary 5) . And she told me Sean said, “No lah! She so tomboy, who would like her.”


It never really bothered me much though at that point of time, because a) I didn’t like boys at that point of time and b) I liked being a Tomboy, I thought it was cool and unique.

(I am so going to put this experience in my essay)

But I guess it did influence the way I thought other people perceived Tomboys to be. No guy likes tomboys (Okay I’m making a sweeping statement here, obviously there are exceptions). Which I think is quite true. I mean, if I were a guy I’d like a cute, sweet, girly girl too.

Anyway, let’s talk about the present. I think I’m sort of in the middle now. I can hold a decent conversation on fashion and makeup and girly things (Not for long though I’d get really bored), I have a healthy appreciation for girly clothes even though I don’t wear them. I do care much more then before about taking care of my appearance. But I’m not quite there yet, as in being girlish.

It’s not that I don’t like girlish things now unlike when I was young! I actually do like some girlish things! Like I watch makeup videos on Youtube (I don’t even know why I do this) and I do like wearing certain girly things too. It’s just that…it’s a little hard to break free from that perception of me that other people have and feel totally comfortable changing certain things.

My primary school friends always encourage me to try out new things when I go out with them (Every outing usually ends up in shopping anyways). And when I do try out some other clothes and they see me and say I should get them and I look nice and girly, but I never do because I’m just not used to that image. I’d rather wear something I’m comfortable in then look nice in something I’m not.

See, if I wear a dress, I can’t sit like a man or run about or jump from high places and do weird things like climb hills or explore drains. (Wow do I sound like a monkey on drugs here)  I’d walk differently. My gestures will be a little gentler and delicate.

Okay so dresses aren’t exactly the only girly things out there. But most other girly things nowadays are all clothes that are sort of revealing. Backless shirts, really short shorts, clothes with holes everywhere. Low-cut stuff. Tight fitting stuff. Most people say these clothes embrace a women’s sexuality. Okay okay, but errr…. nah.

See this is why the only things I wear are T-shirts and jackets. And collared button-downs and sweaters. I know there are girly clothes out there that aren’t, how you say, EMBRACING FEMININE SEXUALITY, but they’re really hard to find. At least, I find them hard to find but I’ll probably try finding some. At least the ones I feel comfortable in.

I’m afraid of the day when almost all the clothes in a store are something like that. Now it’s at about half.

This is a whole other topic worthy of another blog post so I shall not continue.

Am I happy at where I am now? Well, I do wish I could try out new things without feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious. Maybe one day.

And honestly I think I look enough like a girl to pull off wearing guy clothes every once in a while. As long as I don’t butcher off my hair (Which I feel like doing).

I’m not a lesbian.

I think if I told people I like wearing guy clothes people would instantly think that.

I like guys. Very Much. Okay. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Not all guys.

Funny how when I was in primary school, all my friends thought it was absurd that I would like a guy. Ever. If I ever told them, they’d say, “OH MY GOSH RACHEL YOU ACTUALLY LIKE A GUY?!” -.- Even Jairia would be completely shocked. I’d be the last person she’d think would ever want any romantic relations.

I wonder what my sociology lecturer will think after he reads my sociological autobiography on gender.







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