If you’d like to take some time to go and listen to the Madonna song, go ahead, I’ll still be here when you’re done. This post is less about female empowerment though – even though I am all for it – and more about expressing yourself no matter what. There’s always a lot of “you can’t do that, you can’t do this” in the world, and it becomes tiresome. Everyone is expected to fall between these two boundaries of what is normal, and we are beyond that now.
I can sit and preach that I don’t feel like I should conform to a norm, but that would be lying, because no matter what, because of either my body, my mannerisms, attitude or even dress-sense, I feel like sometimes I stick out like a sore thumb. Whilst I can come across as someone who is confident, on the inside, I’m eternally screaming with anxiety. I can’t escape it, but sometimes I just roll with it, and I happy do as I please.
I am not the type of guy, however, to start pushing my own boundaries just to express myself; I know my limits, and I stay within those, but this post is not all about me. In the age of social media, you can come across people who will say, or do, or show, the things you are scared of saying, or doing, or showing, and that’s where we are going today. But first, let me just clear a few things up.
For the vast majority of the last year and a half, I have had grey, or lavender grey hair. This was a rebellion against just being the normal Ted, but I have recently dyed it back to my more natural brown colour. Part of the reason was because the upkeep of the grey was becoming not only expensive, but also damaging to my hair whilst had become very brittle from constant bleaching – however, I will add, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that I’ll be changing hair colour again, we’ll see. This was however, a way to express myself. I had gone through something and I wanted to mark the change in me visually.
Also, for the last two years, I have steadily, and perhaps rapidly, put on weight after spending years trying to lose it. It was not a conscious thing, it was just more of a “I don’t care” sort of mentality, because as long as I was keeping my head straight, everything else could take a back seat. With that, I started to cover up with clothing, but then came a point when I said “no” and began tampering with my clothing choices. From bright yellow jumpers, to lavender short dungarees, and customised denim jackets, I started to express myself fashionably, even if it wasn’t everyone’s taste.
These two acts of my own self expression changed my perception on the topic, and also altered my confidence levels. Whilst traditionally, my body and sexuality aren’t the norm, or aren’t considered beautiful, I had turned a corner, and realised that it didn’t matter, it’s what came from within, regardless of the anxiety behind the eyes when I left the comfort of my own home. And there’s something about being bigger and queer that helped move passed all the bullshit in my head and there’s three main people, whom I follow on social media, that helped me realise all of this.
In 2016, I missed out on a chance to meet Scottee when they came to Hull because I was working, but I have followed them for a long time, and admire the things they speak out about. Whether it’s queerness, class, feminism or body image, it all speaks to me and helped me realise that when I feel like I don’t fit somewhere, I actually do fit into my own microcosm of the world. My life hasn’t been like Scottee’s but the fact that there is someone who will talk about these things, helps me be me.
Troy came to my attention when they liked one of my own instagram posts, and again, I felt a connection and followed them. We have had perhaps, two very brief, fleeting conversations, but they are all about body positivity. I think there is a fine line between being truly body positive (which includes people of smaller frames…basically any body shape) and just claiming it for bigger people, but Troy makes me feel proud to be bigger…if that makes sense. I know that there is someone out there that’s killing it fashion wise and opening my eyes to the fact I don’t need to be dumpy, drab and covering myself up.
I am the fake Ted in this situation, or so theteddylamb would say. We may have similar monikers online, but my real name is often shortened in other ways. I have known this Teddy for quite a few years now, and recently had conversations around gender neutral terms in a bid to educate myself more than anything. However, Teddy’s expression of themselves helped release me once again from the grasps of toxic masculinity. I wouldn’t wear pinks, or floral tops, or just mess around my style because I didn’t want to be “that kinda gay” – thanks internalised homophobia. But at some point I stopped seeing that and I was just ready for my own brand of “fuck you” when it’s appropriate. My fashion sense is still fairly conservative a lot of the time because I am in work a lot of the time, but Teddy helped me realise a lot about myself, my identity and that really, clothes are just clothes.
If you have stayed with this post this long, then congratulations, and if you’ve clicked through to these three instagrams, then I hope you feel some sense of freedom that I have thanks to these three. I am a product of a world that is full of toxicity, and that I should be this way, or that way, to fit in, but sometimes, it’s about standing out. I don’t always agree with people’s choices of fashion. Scarves all year round, lace gloves when it’s not with a matching outfit, and other choices I question because it’s not my style, but I’ve come to use the phrase a lot “you do you” and it’s true.
There’s activism in daily activities, and if that’s standing out from the crowd and showing your existence, then do it. Style is activism, words are activism, viability is activism, and it’s all self-expression; so express yourself, don’t repress yourself, and I hope any fans of Madonna now have songs stuck in their heads.