6 posts tagged Jamie
Q: How has your relationship to clothes developed?
A: Before I started to dress in masculine clothes, I had forgotten that it was even possible to be comfortable in clothes. From my adolescence onwards, I really believed that the condition of wearing anything was to feel like your skin was repelling itself. Being in my own body did not feel like home. Nothing I wore changed that. So the disgust I felt at embodiment and my clothes just merged into one. To be honest, the not feeling at home in myself hasn’t changed so much - and it will, hopefully- but clothes and I have come a long way.
I say I had “forgotten” this because there were definitely rare items of clothing during my childhood that made me feel okay. I guess it’s common for trans people to hold on to textural memories as emblematic of that which was otherwise invisible or unspeakable. I had an entirely unremarkable blue and red striped Puma t-shirt that I wore from childhood into adolescence. To me it signified everything I wanted to save of myself and my androgynous child body. So I tried to carry that version of myself around with me for as long as possible, until it became faded and thin from being overworn and eventually ended up in the bin.
When I was younger still, I was occasionally encouraged to wear feminine clothes. I remember distinctly being bought a matching peach denim jacket and jeans, with a white t-shirt that had a peach rose printed on it. It was kind of like a reimagining of workware Americana for an eight year old girl. Unfortunately, I bashed my nose on something and managed to cover the whole outfit in blood. That’s an overwhelming memory of childhood clothes: fucking them them up because I was too clumsy and gangly and absent minded to do any better. The urge to do better or be better or look better was definitely a motivation later to stop wearing boy’s sports clothes.
Basically, I came from a working class family but I wanted to look…middle class. Perhaps because from my bookish teenage viewpoint , dressing well would demonstrate to the world that I had good taste, intelligence and a certain sensitivity to higher matters. On the way to dressing as a I do now, I staged a minor rebellion against my own aspirational bullshit at university (ironically), when I refused to wash my jeans for a whole term and worse the same t-shirt for six days in a row until it was too much to bear. And then I remembered that clothes can work for you as well as against you. In assuming that surrogate skin, I saw myself being to emerge.