How I Got Hot

 

 

I would like to start off with a story about a tiny nerd in high school that dropped probably about five binders a day because it was difficult to hold them in your short arms AND open a classroom door. I was absolutely obsessed with a little web series called Carmilla, a small youtube show about a lesbian vampire and a young, enthusiastic journalist. I loved the main character, Laura Hollis, who was played by Elise Bauman

 

I had another friend that watched the show with me; we would whisper back and forth in our architecture class about the new three-to-five minute episode that had come out that Tuesday or Thursday. Being newly out as queer but still desperate to let out my excitement, I talked about Elise Bauman a lot. I thought she was so pretty and funny and relatable. In 2014, she was a guest on Kaitlyn Alexander’s youtube channel, and a video came out where she told this story:

 

(Source

 

Here is the full length video, for your viewing pleasure. 

 

 

After seeing this (I probably watched it around 2015), I would talk to my friend and we would sit there and wonder when we would “get hot.” I think I was mostly joking; being attractive was never the most important value of mine. Yet, there was probably some real part of me that wondered if it would happen and how. 

 

Since coming out, I’ve been on a long journey in finding my style and being comfortable with my gender expression. I was generally accepted by my family--well, for my sexuality. Me having crushes on girls didn’t impact them much; it was dressing in a less conventionally feminine way that was the problem. 

 

I was seen as a rebellious teenager, wanting to cut my hair and wear bowties and oh no! Kayla doesn’t care about her (I’m purposely misgendering myself for the emphasis of how I was viewed then, it doesn’t mean you can) appearance, what will we do? Our image of a “normal family” is falling apart!

 

It turns out, the issue wasn’t that I didn’t care about my appearance. It was that I didn’t have access to the tools I would need to let myself feel comfortable and confident in myself and with my gender expression. Since it was expected that I shop in only the “women’s” section because the “men’s” section felt off-limits, I had to take one small step at a time to explore even a single new aspects of my gender expression. 

 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with exploring one thing at a time. I just think I would’ve been excited about expanding my view of what I could look like in a short period of time if I wasn’t made to feel like this was somehow wrong. Over the years, I started experimenting with hats, ties, shirts and most recently, pants! 

 

In finding another item of clothing that made me feel comfortable and like I was truly me, I would gain a small amount of confidence. When I came to college and starting wearing bowties every once in a while around campus, I would always get compliments. I might make small tweaks to my outfit or general appearance--getting my hair styled slightly differently or rolling up my sleeves on a button-up shirt. Each of these were done to try and make myself happy with my appearance. 

 

Then...at the end of my sophomore year, I suddenly had a girlfriend. Finally, this is what I’ve been waiting for since watching Laura and Carmilla fall in love in season one. But, she finds me...attractive? I’m not sure why this seemed absurd to me at first. Clearly I had done all this growth for myself and my comfortability in the outside world! Not that I didn’t want girls to like me…

 

I was not used to people openly commenting on my appearance in such an enthusiastic and overt way. I don’t want to diminish the work I did for myself over the years...but the compliments certainly didn’t hurt. Now, I’m even more likely to go out of my way and dress how I’d like. I’ll even plan outfits in advance; so yes, mom, I do put effort into how I look. 

 

My point here is not to advise readers to get into a relationship only with the expectation that they’ll become your official confidence-booster and nothing more. Or that gaining confidence can magically happen and suddenly you’ll be seen as attractive. I do have one piece of advice though: start shifting what you view as beautiful, for your own sake and for everyone else that struggles to keep up with society’s expectations.

 

Because I didn’t really fit into the conventional beauty standards of what either a woman or a man “should” look like, I didn’t think I was attractive. Over time, I realized I could present as masculine in my own way and still be somewhat of a woman in my own way. So then, I got hot. 

 

_______________________

 

I was debating whether or not to put in actual pictures of me, but I figure why not. I’d like to show the growth I’ve had in the past four years or so.

 

 

This is me at probably age 15. Of course I was wearing my Carmilla shirt. 

 

This is me at 20.