"I should have the right to step out of how society sees me as a woman and be myself."



Gender Diaries: Alexina

As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, Milk will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and, often, where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature musician Alexina, whose new single “Cool Together” is out now. 

When I was 17, I finished my school exams and went to Paris on a business trip with my Dad. It was my first time to the French capital and my first thought was that it was filled with the most beautiful, bourgeois people I’d ever seen. The avenues were filled with couples straight out of a magazine, women smoked long cigarettes and the city hummed with a sort of elegance and sophistication I had never felt before. At the time I was a grungy indie kid – Noel Fielding was my metaphorical boyfriend and my get-up consisted of ripped tights, army boots and short dresses. I had bleached hair, self-pierced ears and no real interest in makeup – all of which felt so out of place in this city. I remember we sat outside at a cafe having dinner one night and, although confident I would never look good in a Chanel skirt suit, I made a vow, to the delight of my Dad, that I would never wear ripped tights again.

Growing up, I was never a ‘girly-girl’. I lived in and out of fields and the river with my brother and my dog in Scotland, in my boy cousins hand-me-down clothes (many favourite pairs of patched up dungarees), a short ‘boy hair cut’ and a deep voice. I was feisty and sporty and strong – I was faster than most of the boys at Primary school and I had absolutely no desire to sit around with the other girls and ‘talk about Barbies’; I was more likely to be found trying to figure out how to saw off a branch of a tree in the school playground. I was a complete ‘tomboy’. I went on to spend much of my adolescence surrounded by beautiful girl friends who hit puberty much younger than I did – as opposed to celebrating when I got my period like them, I cried for days. I didn’t feel like a woman yet but my body told me I was. To the constant despair of my parents, I was continuously changing the colour of my hair or getting new piercings – “I wish you would be more ‘girly’ was the ever-ringing line in my house. “Fuck off” was usually the ever-ringing reply, “I am a girl! I am me! I feel great!”

I was lucky, at school I had friends who thought the same and dressed pretty much the same as me. Every Saturday was a competition to see what weird clothes we could find in the local second-hand shops. Yet all around me there seemed to exist an alien world of models with heavily made-up faces, anorexic mannequins wearing colourful dresses and magazines filled with exotic clothes I would never wear. Sure, I was (and still am) inspired continuously by different places, cities (like New York), rock stars (Keith Richards in particular) and certain designers like McQueen who often put strong, bold, typically punk looks on women, that all resonated with me – but for me, the social context and ideal of femininity felt useless and uninspiring. The older I got, the more I read, the more I lived, the more I understood that I didn’t have to wear £50 foundation and two layers of lashes to feel like a woman (not that I was partial to doing so) – I could hold an intelligent conversation in my Doc Martens and feel like the sexiest girl in the world. I began to discover that femininity and the beauty of being a woman comes from within, it’s the discovery of yourself – who I am as an artist and a human.

I guess my style could be described in some sense as anti-feminine. My ‘uniform’ now is strong, dark, bold, “man-ish” – I love a strong power suit. The fact that I don’t have to conform to what the the outside world thinks a woman should be and how she dresses feels powerful to me. We have come so far from the archaic rules that have restricted women for so long – we are in control, we should be able to make any decision when it comes to dressing and looking after our bodies – that extends to further issues like abortion rights (which in certain parts of the US and NI especially are so non existent it breaks my heart), rights to live free from abuse, to earn an equal and fair pay, to love who we like. I should also have the right to step out of how society sees me as a woman and be myself.

Sexually, I think that that is the most attractive thing to a man or a woman – to be truly yourself. I’ve never had better sex or a better relationship than with someone who truly appreciates and understands that – I think back with an unhappy shudder of when I used to dress for other people. You won’t catch in me in a see-through dress or a pussy pelmet but by all means, you should be allowed to freaking wear them if you like – we should all be able to love whoever and wear whatever we like. I know that for me, I will always celebrate myself in my own style, with ever-growing confidence in who I am.

Featured image courtesy of Alexina

Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.  

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