War paint

Despite breezing through the remainder of Revolutionary Girl Utena with considerable speed, I have yet to be able to say anything coherent about it (aside from: it’s great). So let’s talk about fashion and stuff instead.

I suppose I’ve always had my sartorial eccentricities. Once haircuts were no longer under the control of my parents, I let my hair grow long and gnarled, and, when I did first grow a beard, I let it get similarly unkempt (so, at least in the strictly literal sense, I was a neckbeard for some time). It was laziness which had solidified into a statement of sorts, indicating how I was too busy living The Life of The Mind to fuss over proper grooming habits.

As a young adult I really, really wanted to bury that awkward teenager, and part of that came in developing a more positive appreciation for things like barbers, dress shirts and ties, and having my version of that cinematic, “character takes the scissors to their own hair and let it all drop away to show how they’ve Changed” moment (the beard also went away, and I’ve for the most part remained clean-shaven since; my babyface countenance makes the presence of facial hair only feel like a disguise for the underage purchasing of booze at the LCBO. It’s the one thing that will paradoxically make me feel more like a boy than a man). I had to let myself accept that it was ok to want to look good. And also inasmuch as this was the only period in my life when I was dating, it behooved me to make that investment.

Discovering my inner fashionista also led to making some experimental inroads into incorporating certain more feminine aspects into my affects. Not enough to tip over into actual crossdressing, but enough to carry a slight whiff of sexual ambiguity.

This was also around the time when I developed my interest in fencing, having been an otherwise unathletic guy up to that point. It’s the only sport that I genuinely love, because swords are cool, and because it’s like a game of chess except you’re trying to stab your opponent in the face (though the face-stabbing may be a tad illegal if you’re playing with foils).

I remember spending a couple of nights practicing with the University of Toronto’s varsity team, more or less getting my ass kicked and learning that whatever my skill with the blade may have been, it wasn’t at that level. One of the girls on the team noticed the nail polish on my ungloved hand and asked me if I was in a rock band, and I said “no.”

As a result of the concurrence I’ve since always carried that vague association of swordplay with cross-gender fashion choices in my mind. You’re not the only person who can play that game, Utena Tenjou.

Unfortunately, the fencing tapered off in the midst of a busy academic schedule, and it’s become one of those things I keep telling myself I’m going to get back into. A couple years ago I did spend a little bit of time with the medieval combat enthusiasts of the Society for Creative Anachronism. It didn’t work out. While it was cool that they let me try on their medieval Japanese armor (and crafting your own armor and weaponry is just intrinsically cool), I quickly learned that my wiry physique is just not suited for the weight of that kind of equipment and the crushing blows you’re expected to deal out and receive; I’m much more suited for the light blades. Also, they were a bit weirded out when I mentioned that I was getting my masters in theology, and I wanted to be like, dude, that’s the most medieval intellectual discipline possible. I did, however, pass what they called the “sounding test” which is where they put a helmet on you and then smack you on the head with a sword to see if you spazz out or not.

But anyway, the girly stuff has indeed made a slight comeback after a few years of dormancy. It turns out there’s still a part of me interested in finding just the right palette of eyeshadow, and the challenge of not looking like a bootleg Final Fantasy villain (though I suppose I’m set if I ever decide to embrace nihilism and destroy the world). I can’t say gender dysphoria is my jam, having always felt comfortable and secure in my inherent dudeness, nor have I ever felt any pull in the direction of all those non-binary identities.  It’s just that my personal aesthetic sometimes leans in the direction of “washed up glam-rocker,” I suppose.

I mean, during my undergrad days I also had my flirtations with outright drag and female impersonation. But while I can appreciate the appeal of disappearing entirely into a mask of glitter and sequins (is it really so different from disappearing into a fursuit?), my retiring personality just wasn’t the sort that could make it in the world of drag performance, despite my hope that it would be the sequel to my teenage infatuation with drama class. And also there’s just a lot of shaving. And also I was too busy with my philosophical crisis and eventual religious conversion to become too theatrical.

You can’t blackmail me about this stuff if I beat you to it. Man, what am I going to do when I run out of outre stuff from my life to share with you guys? Make another top ten list?

Speaking of weird girly stuff, long-time readers may have noticed a dearth of Pony-related content these recent years. Truth be told, I burned out on the whole thing back when season 5 was airing. But now that the expiry date on the whole Friendship is Magic generation is finally approaching, it seemed timely to jump back in.

It turns out that there’s still a brony side to me. I may never have really made the sort of headway into the brony world that I have in weeb and furry circles, but I still like the show. Lots of fuzzy, nostalgic feelings abound, alongside the knowledge of years’ worth of New Stuff to catch up on. And it’s just nice to have some pop culture content which is just committed to being simple, unpretentious and wholesome fun.

Which makes me realize something: I never designed a pony-sona. The show already has a purple dragon, so importing my fursona is Right Out. But, like, would I be an earth pony, a pegasus, a unicorn? I dunno.



About Josh W

Scribbler and doodler
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1 Response to War paint

  1. Pingback: In which I say words like ‘otakusona’ | Res Studiorum et Ludorum

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