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A Girl By Any Other Name

The clothes don't make the woman—and vice versa

by Angie Vicars

When we swept into The Carousel, every eye was not on me. Despite my tempting T-shirt, pant-for-me plaid shorts and succulent sneakers. The eyes, instead, were on the cascades of curls, the form-fitting, fawn-colored dress and the rhinestone-studded pumps of the woman beside me. My friend Maria. And I want you all to know something. I was just fine with that.

It's time for me to come out of the closet. Many women toss on dresses and heels with the greatest of ease. But I'm not that kind of girl. My slips are hanging. Sorry, Mom. I know you tried to transform me. But let's give dad his due. I entered this world as an XXY—a tomboy.

Early in my life, the truth was apparent. But it was the early '70s. Even men were dressing up like girls. I could see only one way to fit in. Cognito. Disguise. I did church in dresses and tights. Baked cakes. Learned to sew. Had my room painted pink. Put up Leif Garrett pictures facing my bed.

But it didn't take long for my personalities to split. A picture of the Bionic Woman in the mail set off the schism. She didn't have her hair in a Wonder Woman bouffant. Or spin around till her red, white and blue corset appeared. No, Jaime Sommers, with her locks floating freely over her shoulders, was saving the world in jeans and a white shirt. I took Leif down. And put Jaime up. It just felt right.

That was when I started wearing the pants in my family. I even added an occasional ballcap. Soon I had my own football. My own bat. My own glove. My rod and my reel, they comforted me. On the days when my cakes fell, they comforted me.

And then, along came the decade when girls started dressing like boys, wholesale. The '80s. Overnight, my quirks turned into chic. But living at home put a cramp in my style. My mother still expected me to turn into the girl of her dreams. So, I led her on the best way I knew how. I became a cross dresser. I'd leave for school as a girl. Initialed sweater. Jeans. Deck shoes. An add-a-bead necklace for that added touch.

But the moment I got to school...Shazam! I transformed into the true me. My dad's dress shirt draped below my knees. My thrift store tie whipped from side to side. My borrowed blazer billowed. My jazz shoes shuffled to a synthesized beat. A single pearl earring finished off the effect.

The girl I left behind. Wadded into the bottom of my book bag. Till five minutes before mom picked me up.

Which worked just fine for four years. Until something else happened. Something as inevitable as the resurgence of bell-bottoms and disco. I grew up. (Some who know me would argue this point but my bones have fused and I'm legal for everything.)

My advice is, don't try this at home. Being a grown-up boy is like wearing a shoe that doesn't fit. Look at Peter Pan, for instance. He flies around in a skirt, tights and slippers and lives in a place called Never Never Land. He also bears a strong resemblance to Sandy Duncan. Does this sound balanced to you? Just say no.

Here's my solution for you. Dare to be different. To truly stand out. In no time, you'll be in. Leave those formals on their hangers, ladies. Those pumps on the racks. That hairspray in a can.

And be a real boy. If he's the real you. Wear ballcaps on good hair days. As well as bad ones. Wear out the knees of your jeans. Refuse to have them patched. Track-in dirt. Without noticing. Climb every tree—the higher, the better. Never admit to getting stuck. Stomp in every puddle. It's your sacred right to splash farther than anyone has ever splashed before. Make car noises. Even when you're not driving. Play with tools. Hammer in the morning. Hammer in the evening. Hammer all day long. You go, girl. Let's see some hustle out there.

August 17, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 33
© 2000 Metro Pulse