identity in a vulnerable fashion writer Marina Hansen As I mature, I am slowly discovering my identity, parts of which include gender, sexuality, and academic interests. Strangely, the part of my developing self that takes up the most of my mental space is my personal clothing style. Gender identity and sexuality, woman, queer, are non-entities in comparison. Before college at my New England boarding school, I moved through a world with very defined gender norms where straying from the preppy girly style conventions was social heresy. I still sometimes return to this world when visiting friends, family, and places from my past. It is during these visits where the collision of my personal style, my past, and society’s conventions comes to a crux. Despite my strong identification with womanhood, presenting as feminine makes me feel deeply uncomfortable for reasons I cannot explain. I like wearing makeup and looking good, but I feel the most like myself when I am wearing men’s clothing. I rarely stray from my uniform of track pants, sneakers, a long shirt, an oversized bomber jacket, and a baseball cap. I settled into this style early this past summer and have never felt more at ease with my appearance. But from the other people in my life, even those who come from extremely liberal worlds, I have received a constant barrage of comments and critiques. “Are you really wearing sweatpants to the club?” “Can you please just wear heels?” “Do you want to borrow a shirt?” “Can you shave your armpits?” “Why are you wearing boxers?” It is almost like we have two options: identify as a man and present like a man, or identity as a woman and present like a woman with no wiggle room in between. As soon as we identify as women, it suddenly becomes inappropriate to decide against wearing heels to formal events despite the fact that men are allowed and expected to wear flat shoes. Why am I considered “dressed down” when I wear pants, which are the standard uniform for men at occasions of all levels of formality? As a result of these social norms, “fancy” events mean I either have to feel alienated from my body by wearing a dress and heels, or shirk the norms and shock the public with my outfit choices. When did clothing choices become so intrinsically connected with judgments of respectability and morality? Another phenomenon I have discovered along the way is the tendency for men’s clothing to be cheaper and, in my opinion, way cooler. Hypebeast is my Bible and I wear so much adidas that I have been asked on multiple occasions if they sponsor me. Women’s clothing is always trying too hard to be sexy, with its see-through fabrics and tapered waists - these days, it is even difficult to find women’s sneakers that don’t have unnecessary “feminine” touches. I like feeling sexy and I like showing skin, but I feel the most sexy in oversized clothing that looks cool. This seems to be a difficult concept for people to grasp. Thankfully, the rise of athleisure in the fashion world provides a space where elements of my style could be considered “nice” clothes. I am looking forward to seeing where these trends take us.